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Buildings are getting smarter

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Kathy Gibson reports from Huawei Connect in Shanghai – Internet of Things (IoT) is being rolled out in real-world applications – and Honeywell is working with the technology in building control systems.
John Rajchert, president of Honeywell Building Solutions, points out that buildings touch everyone’s life, but can tend to be quite boring. They were also difficult to use, with the building manager being the only point of connection between resident and the building.
“What IoT has done is make buildings much smarter,” he says. “The capability of putting hardware and software into the cloud has made a huge difference. Moving controls into a virtual environment saves a huge amount of money and increase convenience.”
Ubiquitous mobility means tenants are able to control their own environment. And buildings are now as easy to operate as an app on the users phone.
Multiple data sources are enabled by a lot more sensors that allow the building to adapt more quickly and easily to the tenants needs.
The traditional network would consist of a simple sensor connected to the edge device – or these could be the same unit – and these connected to the building gateway. Any intervention would be manual.
IoT has added the cloud on top of this, where analytics can help to gain insights that could impact a number of issues including predictive maintenance; and develop new consumption models on the fly – without the need for human intervention.
The consumerisation of technology has been largely responsible for these massive changes, Rajchert says.
“Consumerisation has transformed our expectations. Why should I go on a training course to operate a building? Why should I have to call someone to fix things for me? Why can’t I just pick up my smart device and do it myself?”
With social media, it’s now possible to use existing platforms to engage employees and occupants. The technology also allows direct dialogue with the building, ending the “thermostat wars” of the past. Workflow technologies make it easy to fix problems.
By having the solutions available on a mobile platform, there is a single app that connects and integrates functions, connect occupants to the building, combining ID, location and security.
Analytics provides visibility and allows the building manger to crunch the data that can provide significant efficiency improvements. It can be used for self-healing and artificial intelligence, while leveraging the knowledge gained from several buildings to enable better decision-making.
“You can’t do this by yourself; you have to have partnerships with people who have a complementary solution,” Rajchert says. “That’s why we are working with Huawei.”