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How to Realize the Promise of a Smart Building

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Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash

Leaders need an integrated, organizational-wide adoption and deployment model.

I wouldn’t call the first building I worked in very smart. My desk was in a low walled cube in the middle of the “cube city” surrounded by cinder block walls. The air quality depended on what section you were in, and the temperature varied every 20 feet. There were no crowd-based thermostats to keep everyone happy. Almost every air vent had a custom deflector taped on it to personalize the comfort of the one who applied it. If you were cold, your best option was to put on a sweater. 


Times have changed. Today, buildings are required to deliver secure technology services and engaging, productive, personalized experiences to occupants, all while making sure the facility is efficient, reduces costs, and has a lower environmental impact. Going beyond that baseline, a smart building uses an integrated set of technology, systems, and infrastructure to optimize building performance and occupant experience. The key concept is “integrated,” as it applies to technology, systems, and infrastructure. 


A widespread mistake with smart property technology or “prop-tech” deployments is that they are selected with a single purpose in mind and applied in a silo. The systems are deployed without the consideration of the existing connectivity capability, interoperability, management, or infrastructure impact. The problem is referred to as “linear thinking.” For example, a software solution dependent on WiFi will not be trusted or used optimally if the existing WiFi network is not robust enough to provide the needed speed and capacity. This lack of bandwidth will create mistrust for the software, and can lead to finger pointing for the perceived failure of deployment. 


Facilities leaders need to consider how systems in their building work together as an interconnected ecosystem. Without this “systems thinking" perspective, smart building technology deployments will be resigned back to silos with minimal, if any, value add. 


Read the full article here.