The Emergence of Smarter Buildings


Much of the equipment provided in today’s modern buildings include built-in intelligent controls. This growth of “smarter things” has naturally led to the thoughts of “smarter buildings,” but is it really as simple as that? What are the keys to truly smarter buildings?


Smart Technology at Our Fingertips

I, like more than half of Americans, carry a smartphone—well, during the work week, I actally carry two: one for work and a second for personal use. With the word “smart” in the description, there has been a push in the area of connecting us to our smart equipment, like being able to control home entertainment systems via a network or internet connection. Want to make sure you catch a particular sporting event? Set your DVR via the internet connection to your home! Or, if you want to activate your home security system, you can do that from the bedside using a smartphone app.


Our Buildings: Are They Really Getting Smarter?

More and more, we have come to expect the same level of interaction within our work environment. It is not uncommon to find most buildings systems today are provided with the ability to interact with our smart devices—including both phones and tablets—to grant access, review stored closed circuit video, adjust lighting schedules or respond to temperature issues within the building. But does having the ability to control these systems through smart devices really make the systems themselves smarter?


Shouldn’t my DVR learn my viewing preferences, suggest items that I want to record, and send an email each morning with the day’s recommendations? How about our buildings – if I am responsible for insuring the availability of back-up power to my organization, shouldn’t my back-up systems send me daily health reports and provide statistical information about the prior day’s consumption? Better yet, shouldn’t my back-up power system be able to compare its health with similar devices on the building network to know how it’s doing by comparison and alert me to a discrepancy?


On the Road to Truly Smart Buildings

Whether it’s the devices in our homes or the building systems at work, what seems to be missing thus far is true embedded, human-like intelligence. We’ll know we’re headed in the right direction once we begin to see device setup screens that include phrases such as “People who monitor my health would want to know how I’m doing x times per day” or “If I begin to cycle from full heat to full cool more than x times in x minutes, let my operator know that I have become unnecessarily volatile.” Only then we will be on the road to truly smart buildings and a more connected world.


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