FOCUS SMART BUILDINGS
THE INFORMATION AGE
If you want to make the most of your smart building, you need to make the
data it provides work for you, says Karl Broom,
FSI Territory Sales Manager
No longer a futuristic concept, smart
buildings are gradually becoming
interwoven through the fabric of the
modern workplace. While building
automation is still some way from being
a necessity, it will play a significant role
in the future – in terms of improving both
workplace wellbeing and the long-term
e iciency of a building’s lifecycle.
The internet of things (IoT) is a way of
giving a building a ‘voice’. It’s the network
that connects your building’s devices, helps
your assets communicate with one another
and shapes how users interact with their
Smart buildings and the data they
produce can be highly beneficial for both
single and multi-occupier workplaces and
their building lifecycles. Of course, while
data acts as the fuel for IoT, this fuel is
only valuable if you can make it work for
you, your people, your places and your
processes. You need an e ective strategy
that outlines how data is analysed and an
intelligent way to turn this information into
What needs to be thought about prior to
and during implementation? What systems
do you need in place to e ectively interpret
the data and inform your decision-making?
And what tangible benefits will both FMs
and end users see?
First, you need to think about what
type of solution your organisation needs.
This is usually determined by whether
you’re looking for a mainstream ‘strategic’
solution or trying to address a specific set
of problems, what might be referred to as a
Let’s start with the latter. Imagine you
are looking into claims that some areas of
your building have temperatures which
are unsatisfactory for users. A tactical
IoT solution would help you learn about
the problem, recording key factors such
as temperatures at di erent times of day
and using sensors to determine whether
windows or doors were being opened or
how the space was being occupied.
A strategic solution has a deeper
objective. It helps FMs understand exactly
what’s happening with every building asset
30 NOVEMBER 2019
and component, including how e ectively
they’re operating, and provides valuable
information to make intelligent decisions.
Here are some examples of what your
strategic goals could look like:
Become a more environmentallyconscious
workplace. Introduce energy
and sustainability monitoring to reduce
carbon footprint and wasted electricity
and water consumption.
Become a more connected workplace.
Drive productivity of employees by
optimising wellbeing factors such as
temperature, space management and
Implement automated workflows.
Use IoT technology to integrate with a
CAFM/IWMS supplier to create e ective
schedules for both planned and reactive
Increase across-the-board e iciencies.
Automate particular workflows to reduce
costs and free up resources for other areas
Manage assets more e ectively through
data-led insights. Increase operational
e iciency across your facilities and help
teams better manage asset lifecycles.
MANAGING YOUR DATA
The amount of data being produced will
grow exponentially as time moves on. If
there is no e ective management strategy
in place, you risk opening the floodgates,
leaving your team confused and drowning
in data. Data management starts with
understanding how you plan to store it, the
vastness of the information being produced
and your storage requirements, which
subsequently feeds into how that data is
viewed and interpreted.
Systems such as FSI’s IoT hub enable
live data to be pushed and displayed in an
easy-to-digest interface. You can access
everything via your dashboard and use
your snapshot to monitor, maintain and
make informed decisions on your assets.
FM teams can see what they’re trending
against, whether that be historical data
compared against the present day, or
and putting a plan in
place to automate actions in
Ultimately, smart buildings
help you work smarter.
A smart building will tell you if and how
e ectively spaces are being utilised. You will
quickly understand what areas cost are relative to
their level of use, allowing you to make decisions
on how it’s best allocated. What’s more, you
will be able to see real-time energy usage and
regulate this accordingly. For larger buildings
with hectic cleaning and maintenance schedules,
spaces will produce data that lets you know
which busy areas require a prioritised visit, as
well as those that have been untouched since the
Smart building systems help monitor and
control the indoor environment, optimising
spaces to keep users happy, more productive and
looked-a er. This could involve anything from
temperature and humidity to lighting and air
quality. Not only is this beneficial in the retention
of employees, but it helps contribute to a positive
and comfortable experience for visitors to the
Through IoT and the use of beacons and
smart tags, you can ensure that anyone working
on a task is properly qualified to do so. They
can also notify you when an asset needs to be
serviced and, if you have an appropriate CAFM/
IWMS system in place, automate the renewal.
The sensors can also work to identify if there
are people in the building in the event of an
emergency, assisting authorities where needed to
share their location.
This only scratches the surface of what can be
done with smart building data. Understandably,
many FMs are still sceptical as to how much their
working lives can truly be improved through IoT
technology. But it’s important to address the new
challenges facing the working environment with
a new way of thinking.
Above all, the technology needs to work for you,
not the other way around. Smart buildings and
IoT technology make workplaces more e icient,
more productive, and much better places to be.