Intelligent Buildings: a Blueprint for Adoption | IFSEC Global


An entirely new class of service is changing workplace environments, the use of space within buildings, and the development of working environments to incorporate technology, leading to Intelligent Buildings.

Current technologies are also modernizing building operations, design and build processes, and the environmental performance of buildings.

Taken together, these Intelligent Building transformations will enhance user experiences, reduce the cost of the building lifecycle, and foster environmental sustainability.

Intelligent Buildings are designed, commissioned and operated as buildings whose structures and fabric include connectivity technologies that are embedded in, and service and support the infrastructure of the building.

Fourth utility

These technologies include wireless, energy management and BMS systems, physical security systems, agile working platforms (voice, telecoms and connectivity) etc. The value of the Intelligent Building and connectivity to the client and building owner continues into post occupancy by exploiting the communications data network as a fourth utility to add real-time management of the entire building lifecycle.

Wachter has a number of intelligent building projects across both commercial/ enterprise and public sector markets. This is a sector showing considerable growth and adoption of advanced technologies.

Projects include developing IP Physical Security networks, which is a transition from the clients legacy and disparate CCTV and Access Control systems, and integrating these services onto the existing data network infrastructure, and the performance, service and commercial benefits that this provides.

In addition clients are looking for advanced technologies that overlay existing systems, e.g. video analytics, which customers are using to provide real time business information (retail clients use people counting, dwell times and hot spotting) and immediate and distributed access to security information.

Building info networkFigure 1.0 The Building Information Network (Source: Cisco 2014)

‘Internet of things’

The Internet of Things is a new market that has been defined as ‘technology based on a data network infrastructure connected to sensors which are attached to any system or device’, and which collect and manage data from these devices. The ‘IoT’ (as it is known) aims to connect all relevant and available devices to form a global network of information and business intelligence.

The IoT encompasses any device, including street lights, fridges, cars, home energy systems, health systems, etc – any device that can be addressed with an IT Internet Protocol (IP) address can be integrated. This will cover a wide array of devices and the IoT is widely regarded as the next logical stage in the development of computing and the Internet.

A high value has been assigned to the benefit that the IoT will provide to the global economy. Wachter is seeing considerable interest from a number of customers and markets, particularly Industrial Automation (IA), construction (Intelligent Buildings) and retail, where sensors and device wide connectivity are seen as key enabling technologies.

It is clear that these sensors and devices will be widely implemented within new buildings, and will drive the development of Intelligent Buildings. They will be connected to any devices typically within the building fabric, including HVAC, security systems, energy management systems, lighting, etc.

Figure 1.2 below shows the anticipated uptake of sensor based devices and the rapid growth associated with the IoT.

Smart buildings 2Figure 1.2 The Internet of Everything (Source: Cisco 2013)

How smart buildings will flourish

An organisation would benefit greatly if the heating, air conditioning and power consumption were regulated according to the number of people in the building… Building owners could generate significant value if they had a more accurate picture of the way their services were being consumed and could charge tenants accordingly.

And how much more comfortable would it be to work in a building where smart infrastructure recognised each individual as he or she walked into a room, tailored building services to personal preferences and provided instant access to required IT and communications systems?

The operational benefits to the building owner of developing and integrating technology using this approach will be significant.

1. First, they reduce energy costs because heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and other services can be provided on an occupancy basis in which sensors establish who is in the building at any one time.

2. Second, they provide a wealth of real-time building-management information for better decision making.

3. Third, they give owners and building managers access to data about personal energy consumption and use of devices, which makes it easier to charge for services on a demand basis and also to understand infrastructure usage for future planning purposes.

That represents a major transformation. Today’s buildings are managed from a functional perspective; tomorrow’s home, office and commercial and public sector buildings will be managed from a services philosophy that creates significant energy savings, operational efficiencies and a far more attractive environment for building occupants.