A world of invisible buttons - how smart buildings are transforming the user experience

Invisible buttons
In the wake of Covid-19, Smart Buildings are going to have to get personal

Smart buildings are getting personal. Mike Hook looks at how. 

Smart buildings are fast becoming one of the most talked about aspects of the property industry, with tales of state of the art technology and innovative features ready to transform our places of work. This conversation has been accelerated of course by the current COVID-19 crisis, with questions about whether people will ever go back to work and, if so, what features will be needed to keep them safe and productive.

However, before going into the specifics of technology, we need to talk networks and intregration. If you don’t get the platform right, nothing can be joined up and you won’t be able to realise the building’s full potential. What’s more, you risk creating confusion, inconsistency and ultimately, a loss of efficiency and productivity.

This is where IP-based networks are so valuable. By putting the focus on the network, you can create a much more fluid, adaptable approach which prioritises interoperability and multiple connected systems, rather than considering a particular piece of technology. In turn, this then enables increased data collection and more insights into the services and efficiencies the building can offer.

A world of invisible buttons

Integrated IP-based solutions provide a backbone of connectivity that enables the collection of data from multiple sources and subsequently its aggregation into one stream of insight. Once this information has been collected and analysed, there is a world of personalisation that opens up for businesses and their employees, maximising the user experience for all.

Using individual employee credentials, real-time events in the local environment can automatically happen around them, all tailored to their own prefences and needs. The result is a personalised, digital environment where real-time user data is converted into bespoke experiences, improving the safety, security and wellbeing of each employee.

For example, access control is a core security system feature, allowing and monitoring access in and out of a building, exactly as the name suggests. However, by migrating that system onto an integrated building network, it suddenly becomes something that not just manages who can go where in the building, but in conjunction with mobile and Wi-Fi data, provides a detailed, real-time stream on occupancy and activity, knowing what spaces and services are being used, by whom and when. Again, once this data has been analysed, personalised features can be generated to improve the experience for every occupant.

Win-win situation

Implementing changes like this can have wide-reaching and long-lasting benefits both to building owners and their occupants. Indeed, the whole experience of the building can be made more attractive to its users through the delivery of more personalised services, more flexible workspaces and smart automation.

Wellbeing in particular will be a big priority for employees and businesses alike, so any systems which can improve health and safety will be welcome additions to smart building infrastructure. CCTV cameras fitted with thermal sensors to detect temperatures, as well as access control, room and desk booking systems powered by smart data to determine occupancy levels, will help to create a safer workspace for everybody.

But we must remember to think platform first – you can’t do anything ‘smart’ if you don’t have a platform to provide the data you need to maximise both comfort and security. Having a converged approach enables businesses to intelligently integrate building management and IT systems and push the digitised buildings of the future to reach their full potential. This is when buildings truly become smart – using data generated by the spaces themselves to reduce costs, foster wellbeing and optimise functionality.

Mike Hook is Executive Director of LMG

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