Organisations and more specifically, their facility and real estate managers are constantly looking to improve our work environment and the buildings that we work in. They want to be cost efficient, increase productivity, and – very important these days – create a healthy and attractive workplace for their employees. The Internet of Things and Smart Buildings are providing interesting opportunities to improve our work environments. Achieving this however, is a big challenge for most organisations. What Smart Building solutions are organisations looking for? What is the real value to organisations? And most importantly, how will organisations realise these benefits?
FAQ - How the Internet of Things is enhancing the workplace
This FAQ answers five questions for corporate real estate and facility managers who want to embrace the
benefits of internet-connected assets.
From a reactive to a proactive approach through ‘machine learning’
The ability of buildings to measure every action or change in behaviour by the building or its occupants is changing rapidly. Nowadays, affordable sensors are available that measure for example space occupancy, air quality, usage of specific spaces or the state of building installations. Data collected from these sensors provides information about these items. We can use this data to make improvements to the work environment, building or user experience. For example, when sensor measurements show that a meeting room that was reserved is actually not in use, it can immediately become available for a new meeting. In addition, when sensor measurements show that a specific toilet area is used less than expected, the cleaning schedule can be adjusted. However, these useful examples are based on an “If This Then That” scenario, meaning that if an event occurs we react to that event. This is a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach, so can we really call this ‘smart’?
As my colleague David Karpook describes in an article “How Buildings Learn”, the intelligence of a building is rapidly evolving to the next level. Buildings ‘sense’ the behaviour of the buildings and their occupants. The Internet of Things provides buildings and equipment with the ability to collect, aggregate and analyse data. Additionally, ‘machine learning’ enables buildings to learn and make predictions and become so-called ‘Learning’ buildings.
Machine learning is a method that allows us to make reliable, repeatable decisions by learning from historical relationships and trends in the data. Buildings that are able to learn and predict are then becoming connected, human-centric and intelligent workspaces with an intuitive awareness, and learning and predictive ability of e.g. occupancy and utilisation. Buildings really become ‘smart’, which enables employees to do their jobs faster, and enables organisations to create an efficient, effective and attractive workplace. This makes ‘life’ easier for facility managers and real estate managers to monitor, manage, learn and make predictions about their buildings and act to achieve improvements. For example, with learning and predictive analysis the facility manager or real estate manager pro-actively adapts the space to meet demand, while enabling longer-term strategic space and real estate decision making.
What is the value of smart and learning buildings?
This is just one example of the potential value of smart and learning buildings. The Internet of Things and Smart Buildings provide us with an enormous potential of use cases. However, what is the real value of measuring all these types of behaviour and collecting data of the building and their occupants? And how and when do we really create smart and learning solutions in and around our buildings? For organisations and their facility managers and real estate managers, it is important and crucial to research what use cases are relevant and valuable to their organisation. What specific smart solutions is the organisation looking for? And are these really smart solutions and do they provide learning and predictive analysis? In addition, organisations have to determine what the specific business case from both a quantitative (costs) and/or qualitative (user experience, building performance) perspective for each relevant use case is. What is the real value of the use case and related smart solution? Establishing your use case and business case for your Smart and Learning Building solution, that is where the smart journey starts to an attractive, healthy, efficient and effective workplace that supports the organisation’s objectives
Geert van Offeren
Strategic Product Marketing