By Inderpall Sall, Technical Operations Director at NG Bailey IT Services
Smart buildings are often at the centre of discussion these days. Dare to search the term ‘smart building’ and you’ll be confronted by 305 million results, most of which will daze and confuse all but the most technical and IT-minded amongst us. Combine this ‘bleeding edge’ terminology with the aging buildings across most estates, and the resulting gap appears both expensive and complex to navigate.
In fact, the gap deepens when different terminology is used, with everyday consumers now more used to always connected devices and believing a smart building is just one which features the ability for you to control it from your smart phone. We need to reset our view on smart and intelligent buildings. Is a building smart just because it is chock-full of technology? Well, sadly not. A building is smart if it contains appropriate levels of monitoring, control, and visibility of systems to maximise performance, optimise user comfort and support a journey – which in the current climate is most commonly a net zero one. It becomes intelligent when this data then allows it to have some autonomous control.
Behind both smart and intelligent buildings is not just technology the consistent creation of millions of points of real time data. This data is what sits at the heart this smart and intelligent revolution and gives a building owner, landlord or facilities manager a new weapon in their arsenal. However, collecting the data is not enough alone, users must think about what they do with it, after all it’s no good just sitting in the cloud, on a database or even a spreadsheet, it needs to be understood and utilised in decision making.
NG Bailey IT Services has been working with clients on such systems but also to develop ways for them to understand the millions of data points and automated activity easily and in one place. This has meant creating solutions which allow a user whether that be a MD, FD or facilities manager to look at a dashboard and understand the trends, interrogate the statistics and use the information to make real time dynamic decisions that can have a real impact.
This approach to visualising data and sharing it across function is not new, however, the company firmly believes that it plays a pivotal role in the UK not only having better buildings but better businesses too.
The opportunities offered by smart and intelligent buildings, however, aren’t restricted to those built in the years since the digital revolution. As a country with a heritage that spans centuries and a plethora of buildings which can span similar time periods it’s critical that smart and intelligent systems can be integrated no matter the age. We regularly hear it said, “The building’s old, it’s design means there are black spots of connectivity, it can’t be smart” – this isn’t the barrier many perceive it to be. Through NG Bailey IT Services’ work with network partners and clients, the company has been developing solutions that transform connectivity, unlocking the potential of the existing built environment. Using the latest technologies from 5G to private wireless networks and other systems, the company has been able to retrofit older buildings to improve their connectivity further.
The ability to continually upgrade connectivity is going to remain at the forefront of the industry moving in to 2023, as the whole of the UK prepares for the great Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDN) switch off in 2025. This change will bring to an end the traditional landline telephone system, which despite decades of updates is essentially the same setup and design as the original phone lines of the 1800s. Replacing it with a system designed to meet the needs and uses of modern digital technology. The challenge of adapting traditional systems such as lifts and door controls to a new infrastructure will also present an opportunity for them to embrace smarter and more intelligent solutions.
NG Bailey IT Services says that it is clear from the work it’s seeing with clients that embracing automation and intelligent buildings and systems will continue to be at the heart of this decade’s advancements as businesses continue to embrace Industry 4.0 and capitalise on the resilience and efficiencies this brings.