By Robert Hemmerdinger
Each year, technologies become greater and more advanced, and 2017 will be no different. With the New Year upon us, here are five building management trends that will only continue to advance the school construction industry.
In 2007, Apple amazed us with the iPhone, we could not believe how much was possible with this amazing device in the palm of our hands. But each year, new innovation is added to this ecosystem, both hardware and software, which allows us to be more and more productive. This mobilization trend is happening in the building services space too for both building managers and occupants. Building managers can now not only monitor the status of a building from a mobile platform, but they can also actively command and control the critical infrastructure anywhere, anytime.
Internet of Things
Connectivity used to be expensive. The cost of putting wired IP or wireless IP connectivity into edge devices was too costly for customers and integrators. In the last couple years, we have seen an explosion in the number of devices connected directly to the Internet. You only need to check your home Wi-Fi router to see how many devices are now connected in your own house; the growth has been exponential. This increased level of connectivity enables new use cases for greater building efficiency. Information about the building performance and energy can be delivered to cloud-based technology with ease. Automated Fault Detection & Diagnostics (aFDD) can show users how a building is performing and, more importantly, what the real-time costs are today.
Being safe on the Internet has been a priority for surfers for many years, but as the Internet moves into its next phase of development, we are connecting more and more devices — devices that will communicate with each other, not humans. This creates an increased web of wide connectivity that could leave buildings vulnerable if the correct architecture and operating procedures are not adhered to. As regulation around data protection and network security has grown in the public, finance and health care sectors, it will grow in the connected building space, too. These rules are imperative to ensure building owners and occupants will get the facility they need coupled with a high level of security and safety.
We’ve seen some great examples of Information Technology and Operational Technology (IT/OT) convergence over the last few years. Uber took one of the oldest technologies on the planet (transportation) and merged with modern mobile-based innovation. GPS, mobile payments and an intuitive interface deliver a user experience that is unrivaled and has caused major disruption to that industry. Now, let’s use some of that thinking with building technologies. How could merging the IT/OT world make life easier for a patient in a hospital, a student in university or a guest in a hotel? Some examples of this technology are on the market today, but we are only just getting started.
Every science fiction film contains a robot that performs a task a human would normally perform. This has been the bedrock of sci-fi for decades, pushing writers and directors to think of even more creative ways to show the value of robotics in the home and workplace. One of the most obvious and widely commercialized robotic examples in the home are the vacuum cleaner devices we’ve seen emerge over the past eight years. As expected with this technology, price has decreased and functionality has increased, following the rules of Moore’s Law. Today, we are seeing robots that can mow the lawn, plow snow and even patrol a facility as a security guard. As autonomous cars become a reality over the next couple of years we’ll see lots of devices being introduced in to buildings to perform functions that humans would prefer not to do.
Robert Hemmerdinger is the director of Business Development for Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation.