Top 10 Things to Know about the Internet of Buildings

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By JEFF CARPENTER

Jeff Carpenter

You’ve no doubt heard about this phenomenon known as The Internet of Things, or, perhaps, the Internet of Buildings, but you’re not sure how they relate to building design and construction. No problem. In the spirit of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” here are the Top 10 Things to Know.

#10. The Internet of Things (IoT) begat the Internet of Buildings (IoB), which represents a design philosophy more than it does a specific collectionofproducts. Just buying certain products alone does not guarantee the benefits of the IoB.

#9. The phrase “the Internet of” is best understood by thinking of it as a verb that means “giving connectivity to things(devices or systems) in your building.” The revolutionary impact of this concept is best appreciated by understanding that many of these thingshave never had connectivity before.

#8. Focus on the desired outcome. While it is important for things in a building to gain connectivity, your goals should be identified first. Ask yourself what you want to achieve now or in the future, then identify the things whose connectivity will allow you to achieve those desired outcomes.

#7. Difficulty identifying important future needs and outcomes rightnow does not mean you should not concern yourself with the Internet of Buildings. Such a decision does not take into account the undeniable future impact of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in buildings, the benefits of which could provide your competitors with a distinct advantage should they decide to prepare for the IoB now and you do not.

#6. Analytics and AI are the computing power that allow you to achieve outcomes in your building that would not be possible with unconnected systems and conventional human decision making. The algorithms that power AI need massive amounts of data for machine-based learning and decision making.

#5. The reason that you connect thingsin your building is so that they can communicate data, which is then fed to the algorithms of AI to achieve your desired outcomes.

#4. This does not have to be expensive. A key element of the IoB is unifying building system selection, installation, and integration around a common set of industry-standard IT-based principles. This allows for tremendous economies of scale in a building’s infrastructure, resulting in capital being available for the fun stuff!

#3. If you want unified building systems, you need to unify your design partners and unify your construction partners — and have a single point of responsibility for design and a single point of responsibility for construction of the entire building systems ecosystem. If you find yourself hiring a consultant for AV, a different firm for telecom and security, and a separate group for MEP, then you’re moving further away from your goal. If you’re dividing technical specifications and distributing them to three or four different tier 2 subcontractors, then you’re moving further away from your goal.

#2. Take an active role in achieving your outcomes from the start. Tell your architect you want to be involved in the selection of the design team. Ask the candidates to discuss specifics about their strategy and process as it relates to the Internet of Buildings. This is the best way to ensure everyone on the design team understands your goals and becomes a trusted partner.

#1. Spend your first dollar on hiring a trusted design partner who can provide thought leadership. The second dollar should be spent on a unified infrastructure that allows you the flexibility to do tomorrow what capital constraints won’t allow you to do today. Then, and only then, should you chase the shiny objects that you were tempted to spend your first dollar on. Resist the temptation! The Internet of Buildings will bring so much over the next decade that we can’t see today. Getting the design approach and infrastructure right today is critically important. You only get one chance to build a building right.

Jeff Carpenter, PE, RCDD, is a principal at IMEG Corp., where he leads the firm’s technology team and is vice president of India Operations. He has spent his entire career with IMEG, where he has led some of the firm’s largest, most complex projects. He can be reached at Jeffery.A.Carpenter@IMEGcorp.com.

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