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January 11, 2018

From a Smart Building to a Learning Building; establish your use and business case!

Organizations 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 create a healthy and attractive workplace for their employees (which is very important these days). 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 organizations. What Smart Building solutions are organizations looking for? What is the real value for organizations? And most importantly, how will organizations realize 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.

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From a reactive to a proactive approach through ‘machine learning’

The ability of buildings to measure every action or change in behavior by the building or its occupants is progressing rapidly. For examples, in today’s world, affordable sensors are available that measure 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 not in use, it can immediately become available for a new meeting. In addition, when sensor measurements show that a specific bathroom facility 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” their own behavior and that of their occupants. The Internet of Things provides buildings and equipment with the ability to collect, aggregate and analyze 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 can learn and predict are becoming connected, human-centric and intelligent workspaces with an intuitive awareness, and learning and predictive ability of e.g. occupancy and utilization. Buildings really become “smart”, which enables employees to do their jobs faster, and enables organizations to create an efficient, effective and attractive workplace. This makes “life” easier for facility and real estate managers to monitor, manage, learn and make predictions about their buildings and to allow 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.

Internet of Things

What is the value of smart and learnable buildings?

This is just one example of the potential value of smart and learnable buildings. The Internet of Things and Smart Buildings provide us with an enormous potential of cases. However, what is the real value of measuring all these types of behavior and collecting data from the building and their occupants? Also, how and when do we create smart solutions in and around our buildings? For organizations and their facility managers and real estate managers, it is important and crucial to research what use cases are relevant and valuable to their organization. What smart solutions is the organization looking for? Are these actually smart solutions and do they provide learning and predictive analysis? In addition, organizations must 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 is where the smart journey starts to an attractive, healthy, efficient and effective workplace that supports the organization’s objectives

Geert van Offeren
Strategic Product Marketing