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IoT Time Preview: Smart Buildings Chapter

By Ken Briodagh March 16, 2017

IoT Evolution, the leading media brand for the Internet of Things (IoT), has published a book outlining more than 150 of the leading trends in the IoT industry, entitled “IoT Time: Evolving Trends in the Internet of Things.” The book, written by IoT Evolution Editorial Director, Ken Briodagh, seeks to explore the factors that have shaped the recent past of the developing industry and use those to predict the trends that will drive the next period of growth. Each of the trends is explicated and illustrated with a case study or product review that supports each position.

In this weekly series, we’ll be previewing chapters for you to read in the hopes that you’ll like enough to read the whole thing. To do just that, for free, click here. Alternatively, there’s a paperback version available on Amazon for $14.99.

Chapter 10: Smart Buildings
Trend: Local control
Honeywell Gives Building Controls to Occupants
Building occupants long have grappled with whom to call when a work area is too cold or how to gain access to a facility when they forget their access card at home. Honeywell has a mobile software application that addresses these common frustrations. The new Honeywell Vector Occupant App combines users’ mobile devices with connected building features to give occupants more control over their comfort levels and ability to securely move about the workplace.

“Smart phones and apps continue to enhance our everyday lives, from allowing us to hail a cab to giving us direct insight into where we stand on a restaurant waiting list. We're now applying these same concepts of insight and control to how one interacts with a building,” said John Rajchert, president, Honeywell Building Solutions. “Buildings are alive and teeming with opportunities for users to interact with them—if you can make the right connections. The Honeywell Vector Occupant App facilitates these interactions so users can create their best experiences.”

The app provides digital identification and integrates with core building functions, including access and comfort control, to enhance building occupants’ experience. The app’s access control capability eliminates the need for physical cards or fobs and gives users secure access via their smart phones. In addition, occupants can communicate temperature discomfort to prompt real-time adjustments instead of the more time-consuming process of seeking out a facility manager. Facility managers benefit from immediate insight into where and how comfortable occupants are so they can make adjustments more quickly and easily.

“Occupant engagement is an increasingly important aspect of intelligent building solutions,” said Casey Talon, principal research analyst, Navigant Research, contributing to its Building Innovations program. “The smart phone app is an innovative new platform for gathering insight that can refine environmental conditions to optimize workspaces.”

Trend: Smart hotels
Improving Hotel Laundry with the Internet of Things

IoT is having significant impact in buildings, not just in the industrial space, but also consumer-facing businesses like the hospitality industry and commercial laundry operations. IoT provides an opportunity for hoteliers to improve the bottom line and create sustainable green properties.

The cost of laundry is a significant expense for hotels, but connecting laundry systems to the Internet so they can be monitored for usage helps uncover costs and allows managers to predict savings from more efficient use. With IoT-based applications, hotel laundries can hone in on costs with a level of accuracy never seen before. Smart meter devices monitor the amount of hot and cold water, energy and chemicals used, and send the data to an application that can calculate costs. Hoteliers are also able to manage the laundry room remotely, which helps lower labor costs. Also, if housekeeping has clean linens available when needed, down times are minimized and labor is optimized. Decreased wait times for linens also positively impacts guest satisfaction.

Hotels can also increase sustainability by measuring exactly much water, energy and chemical savings they are reaping from their conservation efforts. This helps substantiate branding as a green property which when harnessed into hotel’s brand messaging can increase occupancy rates and thus revenue.

Trend: Smarter smaller buildings
Schneider Electric and BuiltSpace Partner on Smart Buildings

While energy performance software is often used in large buildings to reduce operational expenses, smaller buildings have not had access to the same tools. Schneider Electric, a global energy management and automation company, began a partnership with Vancouver-based BuiltSpace Technologies Corp. to build an integrated platform designed to improve visibility and transparency for real-time operational conditions, service interventions and maintenance costs across multi-site building portfolios. This partnership is designed to enable the operators of smaller buildings to achieve the same efficiencies as larger commercial buildings.

“Schneider Electric is a recognized leader in building management systems and the Internet of Things,” said Rick Rolston, CEO, BuiltSpace. “By leveraging new technologies and innovation at every level, they have made their solutions cost-effective for small- and medium-sized buildings. We're looking forward to working with Schneider Electric to deliver real-time visibility into building operations and maintenance.”

The joint BuiltSpace/Schneider Electric platform combines Schneider Electric's remote building monitoring and analytics with BuiltSpace's digital operations and maintenance database and real-time work order management. Partners using the platform will be able to deliver exceptional customer service as well as operational and energy efficiency to their customers, setting themselves apart from other building service providers. Building managers will gain real-time visibility and control over operating costs across their entire building portfolio.

“BuiltSpace has established a reputation as a company that enables building managers to ensure their facilities operate as efficiently as possible,” said Richard Henzie, Marketing Director, Schneider Electric Canada. “The combination of BuiltSpace's information management systems and Schneider Electric Solutions will allow building services providers to better serve their customers by giving those customers more insight into how their building infrastructure is performing and identifying cost saving opportunities. This unique offering fills a gap in the remote facilities management marketplace and gives customers real-time visibility into what's happening in their buildings.”

Trend: Slow market speeds up
Smart Buildings Market Lags, But Uptick is Coming, Says ABI Research

Smart buildings are the building blocks of Smart City infrastructure, but the market for implementation has been lagging. This is due to significant fragmentation of the solutions space and sluggardliness of facilities managers, mostly, according to a recent report from ABI Research. All is far from lost however, as the same report forecasts that smart buildings global facility services revenue will grow from $625 million in 2015 to more than $8 billion in 2021. The bulk of the revenue will be in North America and Western Europe, as large buildings in these regions implement cloud-based smart building platforms or integrate existing building management systems to smart building platforms.

ABI Research said that incumbent service providers have shown little initiative to get in on this space, which will provide opportunities for device OEMs, system integrators, security companies, telecoms, and platform vendors to capitalize by offering managed building services, more specifically, smart lighting and HVAC control systems, which ABI estimated will account for 32 percent and 49 percent of revenue from smart buildings by 2021, respectively.

“IoT platforms, such as GE’s Predix, IBM’s Watson, and SAP’s HANA, in collaboration with facility service providers, like CBRE, ISS World, and ENGIE, are gradually creating inroads by integrating multiple building automation systems to deliver a unified facilities management solution,” said Adarsh Krishnan, Senior Analyst, ABI Research. “But most facility service providers are still in the early stages of evaluating smart building solutions and face the ‘make or buy’ dilemma of whether to develop the solution in-house or collaborate with a third-party technology vendor.”

Even though ABI is predicting that North America and Western Europe will take the lead in coming years, the Asia-Pacific region will not be left behind, accounting for about a quarter of revenues by 2021. This is probably conservative, and even if it turns out to be accurate, Asian markets will probably outstrip the west shortly thereafter.

“Smart building platforms are seen as a valuable tool to address growing sustainability challenges and customer demands for personalized services, reduce costs, and increase workspace flexibility,” added Krishnan. “Facility managers are exploring opportunities beyond enhancing building energy efficiencies and aim to improve the overall occupant experience across multiple facility services.”

Trend: Big partnerships are big building business
PointGrab Joins Cisco Digital Ceiling Initiative for Smarter Buildings

PointGrab joined the Cisco Digital Ceiling framework as a partner for developing building automation solutions over one IP network. The Cisco Digital Ceiling is an IoT-based solution that connects building services in a single, converged IP network through an extensive ecosystem of technologies. PointGrab’s edge analytics smart sensor, CogniPoint, provides occupancy analytics and connectivity with the aim of ensuring that organizations are able to make better, more informed decisions affecting building management. As a member of the Cisco Digital Ceiling framework, PointGrab is collaborating with leading organizations to drive toward smarter, connected, and more secure buildings. PointGrab joins Cisco Digital Ceiling partners such as Philips and Cree for lighting, Johnson Controls for building automation, and Relayr for ISVs, among others.

“The quality and breadth of information available for digital building management is determined by the smart sensor’s data capture and analysis, making sensors a critical technology for smart buildings,” said Itamar Roth, Chief Business Officer, PointGrab. “PointGrab’s inclusion in the Cisco Digital Ceiling partnership is a welcome recognition of the CogniPoint sensor’s unique contribution to next generation building automation.”

By embedding deep learning technology into optical sensing devices, PointGrab’s CogniPoint sensor provides analytics precision in the detection of occupants’ locations, count, and movements, thus enabling effective office space management and enhancing buildings’ operations efficiency. The sensor is a miniature network-connected device, running state-of–the-art deep learning algorithms on a low-cost embedded ARM-based processor.

Trend: Efficient facilities
Flushing to Market: Kimberly-Clark Aims to Make Smart Restrooms

Kimberly-Clark Professional has dipped into IoT technology to deploy a new smart restroom management system called Onvation Technology. The system is designed to provide up-to-the-minute monitoring of restroom conditions from any device or location, 24 hours a day.

“Buildings today are smarter than ever with sensors and software managing everything from lighting and security to HVAC systems and more,” said Terry Sanchez, Marketing and Sales leader, Kimberly-Clark Professional, North America. “However, the restroom, which is one of the top three areas of tenant complaints, has been largely overlooked – until now.”

The Onvation Technology is a patented system to deliver real-time data and alerts to building managers, allowing them to identify and fix restroom problems before they become complaints. The advantages could include: more efficient use of supplies and time, reducing waste, increased sustainability, and enhanced tenant satisfaction. In addition to signaling whether dispensers are empty or full, Onvation Technology delivers and relays information through a web-based dashboard that's accessible 24/7.

Here's how it works. Connected sensors are embedded into proprietary towel, tissue, soap dispensers and door counters. The data is collected and sent to the cloud over a secure network, where it is analyzed for intelligence. Automatic text messages are sent, if required, to alert building managers to product and battery levels, usage, jams and overall traffic. Finally, remote confirmation is delivered when an issue has been resolved.

“Instead of treating all restrooms equally, managers can assign staff to the areas that actually need service,” Sanchez said. “Seventy-three percent of tenants say a bad restroom signals poor management. When you consider that the typical office worker visits the restroom three to four times a day, that's more than 1.1 million annual opportunities to impress or disappoint. With Onvation Technology, building managers can make sure their restrooms measure up to the rest of their properties."

Trend: More than illuminating lighting
Light-Enabled Internet, Thanks to Lucibel LiFi

In the IoT, power is an issue. Especially in terms of getting power to distributed network hubs and sensors. Meanwhile, lighting systems are at the forefront of smart building implementations all over the world. Bringing these two paradigms together, and in partnership with Scottish company PureLiFi, Lucibel has introduced what it says is the world's first industrialized LiFi solution. LiFi, or Light Fidelity, is a communication technology through modulated LED light that enables data exchange between a specific LED lighting fixture and a computer, making Internet access possible. Lucibel introduced a prototype in June of 2015, and now has quadrupled the performance of this bidirectional broadband connection since then. The reception of data transmitted by the lighting fixture is done via a LiFi USB key.

Communication through light has existed for several years, but so far only low speed unidirectional versions have been created, mostly used for the deployment of indoor geolocation applications. This new LiFi technology is a possible alternative to Wifi, especially for Smart Buildings. Lucibel is positioning LiFi as one of the broadband connection technologies that will enable the development of IOT.

“The production of this LiFi solution in France forms part of Lucibel’s new industrial strategy implemented for over 2 years,” said Edouard Lebrun, Chief Innovation Officer, Lucibel. “Indeed, thanks to the relocation of its manufacturing facility in France, Lucibel has been able to co-develop, industrialize and market its LiFi solution in less than 15 months, which makes it the only solution on the market easily integratable into a building.”

Some major companies are on board already, including Microsoft, which is implementing the LiFi solution at its innovation center in Issy-les-Moulineaux, and Nexity, a French real estate company, which is the first end user of the industrialized LiFi luminaire. “The innovation strategy of Nexity is illustrated by a will to meet the needs of occupants for connected living and work spaces, flexible and oriented to their well-being,” said Loïc Daniel, Deputy CEO of Nexity Business Property. “We congratulate ourselves on this approach of co-innovation with a company as Lucibel, who will be a supplier of new solutions for the real estate of tomorrow.”

LiFi works by connecting a RJ45 wire to a lighting fixture and a LiFi key is connected to the computer USB port. The LiFi solution by Lucibel enables the deployment of a complete wireless network through bidirectional transmission at about 42 Mbps.

In this weekly series, we’ll be previewing chapters for you to read in the hopes that you’ll like enough to read the whole thing. To do just that, for free, click here. Alternatively, there’s a paperback version available on Amazon for $14.99.




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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