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Smart buildings revolution on show

The Smart Buildings Show 2017 – the UK’s first dedicated Smart Buildings event took place at the Barbican on 8-9 November.

It should come as no surprise that our buildings are getting smarter. Technology is getting even more advanced and spaces are becoming more connected than ever before. The Internet of Things (IoT) is fast revolutionising the way we travel, work and live; from answering your front the door via videophone 6,000 miles away, to monitoring desk and meeting room occupancy in corporate spaces, the way that we work has been evolving at a rapid pace the last few years, but this period of change is by no means over.

The latest products, services, brands and names in technology and FM cumulated at the Barbican Centre in London, for the Smart Buildings Show 2017. The event was carried out over two days, and saw some of the most pertinent movers and shakers from within the sectors of IoT, PropTech, FM and more come together to share the latest products, insights and services and to engage in topical discussions and debates.

The idea of having a Tripadvisor-esque platform for workplaces, where you can rate, comment and discuss your workplace/space publicly was brought up during one seminar, asking whether the audience thought this would affect how employers invested in their offices? Sure, word of mouth technically does this for us already – but would it change the way employers managed their facilities?

Mark Tyson, Director of Property & FM at Capita PLC firmly agreed it would, during his presentation on the value of smart buildings.

He stated: “Air quality, water provision, occupant nutrition, light, activity, comfort and mental ability all have a dramatic effect on how people feel in a space, and can help us judge the ‘value’ of a high-performance building.” Citing a recent report by Leesman as an example, he shared startling figures that show almost half of all UK workplaces assessed were found to not actively encourage and aid employee productivity.” He concluded, with encouragement: “We all need to accept FMs for what they really are, which is great problem solvers.”

Darlene Pope, Senior VP of Global Practice at JLL provided a visually engaging presentation on how smart buildings can provide a smart ‘experience’. Drawing on personal encounters during her many trips around the globe, she discussed in great detail just how many benefits one can receive from investing in workplace and property technology. She claimed: “We’re finally at the point where people are realising the full potential of IoT, and so now is a really great time to be involved in and investing in smart buildings.” When questioned about the privacy and security of all things Cloud and IoT, Pope feels that “people are willing to give up their privacy, because of the direct benefits they can see in return.”

Schneider Electrics provided an informative case study overview showing how its utilising the best tech on offer, and working with companies of all sizes to get the best possible results. Using the famed ‘The Edge’ building in Amsterdam as an example of best practice, it was able to demonstrate just how successful efficient buildings can be, if done correctly. With a BREEAM-NL outstanding rating of 98.36 per cent, the building produces 102 per cent of its own energy, and is currently the greenest building in the world. Schneider Electrics put the success down to having over 28,000 sensors for smart occupancy, comfort and energy efficiency installed, and effective human behavioural changes working alongside the smart building.

Taking time out to investigate around the stands and exhibitions at the Smart Buildings Show, there was a great deal on offer. Old and new, corporates and SMEs, products and services, local and global, there was something for everyone this year, and plenty of time to confer with exhibitors and visitors.

Several stands and companies particularly stood out among the sea of FM services, tech providers and products. This included, Bringme, the Belgian-founded digital solution to sending and receiving parcels which enables a ‘how to be in when you’re out’ culture for city workers, students and residents across the country.

Mitie, was promoting its ‘connected workspace’ initiative, which features six main factors; ‘experience, utilisation, resilience, security, sustainability and wellbeing, all of which Mitie believes can make offices around the world work more efficiently. As Alejandro Navarro, Head of Strategy & Development at Mitie confirmed in his presentation “Data + places + people = a connected workplace”.

The technological advances around the world are enabling us to do more than ever before, from our homes and cars, to our offices and work stations and some of the biggest names in the game are investing endless amounts of time, effort and money in creating smart, connected and efficient spaces.

What the show made clear is that there has never been a better time to get involved in IoT, tech, and automation to aide workplace and property professionals.

About Sarah OBeirne

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