New Technology to Take Your Smart Building to the Next Level

We’ve covered the capital savings achievable through building systems convergence, and followed that up with how operations staff can use system connectivity to keep the building humming in like new condition in our three-part Smart Buildings series. Now we get to the fun part. What new services, integrations and – ultimately – user experiences are possible, and cost effective to implement once all systems:

  • are on a single network (converged)
  • provide easy, non-proprietary access to data (through open protocols)
  • provide data in standardized format (normalized data)

The integration we’re talking about  is what usually comes to mind when people think of a “smart building”, which take the form of augmented sequences of operation. To explain simply, this differs from a traditional building in that data from separate systems can be shared to optimize an existing sequence. Take demand control ventilation, for example. Typically, fresh air ventilation rates are controlled to maintain a specific level of CO2 in the occupied space, which is a good proxy for the number of people present. However, measuring CO2 is a lagging indicator of air quality. By the time the concentration of CO2 in a space rises a couple of hundred parts per million (ppm) above outdoor levels and additional fresh air is introduced into the room, it’s already stuffy and occupants may have noticed the change. Why not use occupancy sensors in the room (especially if there are multiple, like through a new digital lighting system) to count how many people are present and add extra ventilation immediately? This same data could come from the Wi-Fi system by counting the number of connected devices in a space, or dedicated sensors at the board room doorway (similar to people counting in a retail application).

You can see how a master systems integrator can drive a better experience merely from better access to system data. The next logical step is to allow users of the space to provide feedback and customization within preset boundaries – to avoid driving up energy consumption. This becomes particularly appealing as occupiers work towards more open concept, free-address space.

Here are some examples of these integrated sequences under development and deployment in the industry:

  1. Allow a user to set their preferences for light level, colour and thermal preferences through an application or web interface. Automatically adjust meeting rooms or audio privacy rooms accordingly when the user enters the room.
  2. Connect a license plate recognition camera in a building’s parking lot to a tenant visitor list. This makes it possible to notify hosts when their guests arrive and direct visitors to available parking spots automatically.
  3. Use wireless triangulation data in common spaces to support leasing team efforts on retail tenant placement.
  4. Create a single “building app” to connect users. Include personal control inputs, tenant messaging, sustainability data, parking availability and even lunch specials in the food court.

The list can go on. The key is that integrators and owners that want to create these new experiences to drive tenant and visitor productivity are now more cost effective to deploy because of system connectivity and the increasing granularity of data – the Building Internet of Things. These applications can then be offered à la carte to a tenant, included in a lease negotiation or used to attract new visitors and users. At its core,  this connectivity of systems, overlaid cybersecurity and IT best practices, lays a digital foundation. What applications each owner and integrator builds on that foundation will differ, but we’re closer than ever to interacting with our buildings like never before.

Check out how this concept is being applied at Cisco Canada’s new headquarters.

Written by: 
Andy Schonberger, Cisco Canada

Interest(s): Date: November 16, 2015