Smart cities are layered and complex systems consisting of an ecosystem of various networks designed to make the urban environment more intelligent and at their core is the smart building. While the goal of connecting smart buildings into a larger smart city may seem futuristic, today a plethora of technology and devices exist to make it a reality.
With nearly 90% of our time spent indoors creating an environment which provides optimal conditions for occupant comfort, workplace productivity, and wellness is becoming increasingly important to both commercial real estate tenants and landlords. Here are the top five things that landlords must do prepare their buildings for technology-enabled devices.
1. Robust wireless infrastructure
At the foundation of every smart building is a network of wireless systems responsible for connecting users and devices with applications that can enable them to work and improve efficiencies.
The abundance and availability of optical fiber and CAT6 cabling are the two most important requirements to build a smart building infrastructure. Without ample fiber, it’s virtually impossible to meet demands for connectivity from occupants or the majority of smart building applications in the marketplace today.
Robust in-building systems that use both DAS and small cells add significant value to both rentals rates and appraisal valuations of commercial real estate buildings. Doubling up on fiber and assessing your cellular infrastructure is the first step towards preparing your building for smart building technology upgrades.
2. Choose future-proof device and technology investments
Right now many of the smart technologies in the market place still very nascent. While many vendors quickly adapting to new technology due to a lack of maturity in products and standards it’s important to do your research and identify products to ensure that they and both current and long-term goals.
For example, if a platform is using a connectivity solution that offers no path towards migration to 5G it may not be the best choice for your building.
3. Assess smart building device for retrofit
While most smart buildings today are relatively new, there are plenty of devices in the marketplace that can easily be retrofitted into older buildings. Researching which devices are most suitable for your building based on specifics such as building type, age and leasing arrangements is an important step.
Assessing Interoperability or the ability of different systems to communicate using a standard communication protocol is also important.
For building automation systems, interoperability is achieved by BACnet, Modbus, which are requirements or protocols that manufacturers should meet when designing or manufacturing industry products to enable equipment and devices to communicate and share data.
4. Start small and build your way up
For building owners who are just starting out with smart building technology, it’s best to start small. Equip just one large conference room or auditorium sensors for activation of lights or a parking garage with sensors that enable occupants to identify and reserve space.
After a few applications are deployed to the workflow you will gain experience and insight, which can help you to add other suitable platforms and devices.It’s best to choose a proof-of-concept project directed at a clear and quantifiable problem or that you are trying to solve. Applications that drive energy efficiencies from lighting or HVAC systems are best because you can again a direct ROI from those deployments.
5. Update your team’s IT skills
Once operational subsystems are on IP network, the logistics and permutations between various systems become more complex and its important to make sure that building managers and IT teams work together to understand how to best use the new technology.
Most building managers have not been trained to manage software stacks and maintain algorithms that run operations. For this reason, it’s important that your building management staff has the necessary skills to deploy smart building systems.