Converging technologies of IoT and building automation are creating smart spaces that make workplaces safer, healthier and happier. Where IoT sensors can be considered as the eyes and ears of a smart building, it has recently been possible to join building data with context. The result is a “hyperaware” smart building – an instrumented structure in which applications are mindful of the contextual status of the environment, occupants, energy requirements, service needs, security and safety.
Future growth of smart buildings will be driven by economic, as well as these human factors. According to McKinsey, human activity monitoring is expected to increase productivity by 5%; human productivity organisational redesign is expected to yield 3-4% productivity, augmented reality is expected to yield 10% productivity gains, whilst energy monitoring should reduce costs by 20%; and IoT should yield a 20-50% reduction in building security costs.
Such growth is all the more significant because these percentages are multiples of large numbers. Commercial real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle observed that, in general real, estate tenants spend roughly $3 per square foot per year for utilities, $30 for rent, and $300 per for payroll. This “3-30-300” rule of thumb makes clear that the greatest financial benefits can be obtained by making people more productive and efficient. Pivoting toward human productivity optimisation also improves space efficiency, which in turn reduces both real estate footprint and energy costs.
Energy efficiency programs initially led the charge to smart spaces because this is one of the specialties of building automation vendors. Moving on to human productivity requires a second pivot towards vendors and applications that can create cognitively aware digital workplaces. IoT can change the way in which machines and humans interact to make people more productive. The necessary frictionless machine-human interchanges must overcome the complexities of computing, security, and communications systems needed to accomplish the task. The industry is nevertheless finding new ways to simplify human interaction with complex machine-based systems.
Why is hyper-awareness important?
Without context, data alone cannot provide the ability to respond to occupants and their environment. The richer the data and context, the more adaptive the building. So, while smart buildings have limited understanding, hyperaware buildings with full instrumentation are future proof.
To make this happen there needs to be a convergence of two worlds that are conventionally apart: data-focussed building automation and control on one hand and IT on the other, where intelligent networks and big data can add the context. The key is to provide an interface between intelligent, structured, secure IT and the untrusted building automation.
For example, in an automated room reservation system, identity, presence, calendar, and location are needed to know who is present, when meetings can start, what should be presented, if social distancing is being met, when a room can be released, the path to the closest exit many other intelligence that will boost productivity or save cost.
In this context, the network access point provides a platform with various interfaces for occupancy, occupancy, distancing, rest-room materials and desk usage sensors as well as actuators, smart lighting systems; personal area network radios for heating, air quality and access control; and other energy-harvesting devices.
These gateways extend the reach of monitoring and digital twin applications into legacy infrastructure, yielding deeper visibility and insights without incurring the cost of ripping-and-replacing installed devices.