Delivering Smarter Buildings
Image from the New York Times Archives
Delivering smarter buildings is not new. It has been a topic of discussion for years. Delivering smart buildings, or at least the vision of one, originated in the early 1980s as seen from these excerpts from the New York Times:
"Cityplace a 38-floor building will open in Hartford. With 1.3 million square feet of floor space, it will be the largest commercial structure in Connecticut. It will also be ''the world's first intelligent building”. Later next year, Building Systems, a subsidiary of the United Technologies Corporation, says, it will complete work on the first ''intelligent'' buildings in New York City - Tower 49 - and in the Southwest - LTV Center in Dallas. And it is also installing sophisticated office complexes outside Washington, D.C., at Crystal City in Arlington, Va., and Skyline City in Alexandria, Va.'' https://www.nytimes.com/1983/12/01/business/the-intelligent-buildings.html
The year 1983
And from May 13, 1984:
Commercial developers are drawing on the talents of the communications industry to create a new generation of office buildings that seem almost to think for themselves. These new structures, only a handful of which now exist, are called intelligent buildings. An intelligent building has a computer for a brain and a fiber-optic-cable nerve system that tenants use for their telephone and data processing communications. The computer operates sensors that signal when spaces are too hot or cold, when lights have been left on at night and when intruders have gained entry to the building. it also operates the elevators and warns of fire and breakdowns in water and electrical systems.” https://www.nytimes.com/1984/05/13/realestate/wiring-buildings-for-intelligence.html
Back then, several major enabling technology trends were under way. One was the telecommunications industry which was undergoing deregulation and new companies, products, services, and innovations entered the marketplace. The second, which at the time seemed somewhat separate and unrelated, was the emergence of the personal computer industry. This era spawned the first real connection between commercial real estate developers, building owners and technology that could help operate and manage their buildings better (smarter).
Fast forward to today. What’s pushing buildings to be smarter? While there are several drivers (I am sure you have yours), I believe there are three that construct a foundation for many and influence smarter buildings.
Today, connectivity is enabling us to expand our reach to the edge with a range of devices that gather and analyze data and react to it in a variety of applications that we have never seen before. It is allowing us to redistribute and process data independently at the device level. It is enabling the flattening of the network architecture and giving us the ability to access and control remotely and direct connect to the Cloud. Connectivity is also empowering us to create collaborative environments.
Accessing and making use of data from existing operational systems is critical to making any building smarter. Data has changed the way companies in every industry do business and assess and manage performance; we are in an era where data technologies and analytics enable us to capture data from different sources; make it consistent and meaningful and use it across multiple applications. Today’s increased access to data is empowering us to take advantage of it----- from everywhere and any device. By effectively utilizing data, we create better operational and occupant experiences.
Over the years, we have seen continuing confusion around smart building outcomes. Smarter buildings are not just about installing and operating technology and technology advancements. Technology and the systems in buildings are simply enablers, a means to an outcome. Smarter building outcomes are now about delivering solutions that solve owner/operator challenges (problems) and achieve their business, strategic, financial and marketability outcomes.
The quest for smarter buildings continues in its most transformative and compelling period we have seen over the last 25 years. It is more than the products and technology soltuions. It is an understanding of delivering insights and outcomes that make buildings smarter. Today, the need is more demanding than ever before.