Nitty-Gritty Details Can Provide a Clearer View of Smart Buildings

It’s often said that the devil is in the details. I’d like to propose a revision: The answer is in the details. The question, in this case, concerns the proliferation of smart technology for facilities.

These days, smart technology isn’t just coming from building automation companies that have been talking about smart buildings for years, even though BAS vendors have improved their own usability and analytics capabilities. And it’s not just coming from high-tech startups that are disrupting an arena long dominated by the BAS companies.

Pumps, windows, rooftop units, lighting fixtures, sensors, cooling towers, fire alarms, and more — everywhere you look, smart options are now available for traditional building products made by traditional building product manufacturers.

Add to that the improvements to BAS in areas like usability and analytics, plus the Building Internet of Things platforms for gathering and analyzing data, and the idea of moving into the brave new world of smarter buildings can seem overwhelming.

But standing on the sidelines is at best a short-term strategy. It will become increasingly difficult to ignore the benefits of smart technologies. So the question really isn’t if, it’s when and how (piecemeal, with pilot projects? as part of a master plan?) to move forward.

To do that, facility managers might look for ways to solve today’s problems while keeping an eye on the long term — how various smart technologies will fit together in the future. One way to do that, say experts, is to follow the data. What will it take to get data from a device to a platform or BAS? From one platform or system to another? Where will data be analyzed — on the device, elsewhere onsite, or in the cloud? What will the data tell you once it’s been gathered and analyzed? How will you take action?

Detail work like that is time-consuming. But once it is done, the answers to your questions about smarter technology will be much clearer.