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Digital buildings: The office of the future

Catherine Escott

Catherine Escott

Principal Portfolio and Proposition Manager – Digital Buildings

IoT is transforming the way we live and play – but what about the way we work? Around the world, digital buildings are being embraced by businesses of all sizes, and it’s easy to see why.

Imagine being able to grant employees access to your building – and the rooms and resources relevant to their role – with something as easy and fast as facial recognition. That means no risk of lost access cards and no admin time spent replacing them. The same technology can be used to give your building visitors a smoother experience – it could initiate a wayfinding application and direct them to the right meeting room, then automatically grant access, while securing areas that are for employees only.

From lighting to air-conditioning, printers to coffee machines – everything in the office of the future will be connected and automated. That means more intuitive, seamless experiences as your employees go about their daily roles. And it’s not a distant reality – much of the technology is already being trialled.

Smarter building insights

As your buildings and systems become more connected, you’ll have access to increasingly vast amounts of data. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help you make sense of this and extract powerful insights to improve your facilities management. For example, you’ll be able to manage your energy use better – you can see exactly how it’s being consumed in every room of your building. With this data, you can implement solutions that could significantly reduce your energy bill and improve your buildings’ green credentials.

You can set up rules so that systems like heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting adjust automatically, based on smart insights about how employees use rooms, their temperature preferences and footfall or dwell time. This can create happier, more prosperous work environments. Not only can these smart environments boost the productivity and satisfaction of your existing employees, they could also help you attract and retain the next wave of tech-loving recruits from Gen Z.

Securing buildings with blockchain

The solutions readily available to you are constantly getting more sophisticated. Until recently, blockchain was a technology in its infancy – but it’s now having an impact on smart buildings. Blockchain works like a digital ledger, providing an inalterable and indisputable online record of transactions.

Now, technology companies are developing blockchain solutions to help them digitalise building security. This can provide clear traceability and edit logs, so that if there’s a security incident and you need to prosecute an offender, it’s easier to prove the authenticity of footage in court.

It’s easier than you think 

You can benefit from IoT now, no matter how advanced your current buildings systems are. There are many sophisticated solutions available off-the-shelf. The best of these don’t require a major overhaul of your existing systems. You can plug and play with little disruption to your daily operations – and the benefits can be seen straight away.

For example, you can retrofit your existing HVAC systems with IoT sensors – there’s no need to rip and replace everything. This can help you meet the needs of different office environments and occupants.

There are also quick wins when it comes to building security. You probably already have a CCTV system in place. In the past, when an incident occurred, you may have needed to visit the site and trawl through hours of footage. But now you can retrofit your existing CCTV with IoT sensors. This lets you view footage in real-time from any camera, on practically any device. It can automatically send you alerts based on pre-selected motion detectors, saving you hours of investigation time.

You can even get state-of-the-art buildings management systems out of the box. These can connect everything from your lighting and heating to CCTV and fire alarms, without having to rip and replace. This means you can monitor and report on everything from a single platform, giving you greater insights to improve operational efficiency across your buildings.

With solutions advancing at such a rapid pace, smart digital buildings will soon become the new normal. From employee and visitor satisfaction, to sustainability and security, the benefits of smart buildings are clear. And it’s simple to get started today.

Read our digital buildings web pages and brochure to learn more, or contact us.

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