The ongoing pandemic has upended co-working as work from home policies are redefined around the world. Shopping and retail are shifting more to hybrid and online, and the hospitality industry struggles to stay afloat with unprecedented new capacity restrictions.
Meanwhile, the looming climate crisis is creating an urgency for transparency and greater resiliency in real estate. The finance industry is accelerating commitments to greenhouse gas disclosures with efforts including the Partnership for Carbon Financials (CAF). Pressure is mounting on the insurance industry to account for climate risk, articulated in this recent letter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Even regulatory bodies are considering mandates for climate risk disclosure, as underscored by the recent US Commodity Futures Trading Commission report.
From retail to real estate, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies have become mainstream investments in nearly every industry. IoT devices are now low-cost and readily accessible, and sophisticated platforms are disrupting age-old businesses. The result is a very noisy marketplace, with each solution claiming to be the technology pathway for transformation.
In the coronavirus era, IoT has become the framework for a host of innovative point solutions to important and urgent challenges like workplace re-entry. Indoor air quality, occupancy management and access control solutions are all being pitched as the silver bullet to getting people back in buildings. The reality is that occupants need to trust that businesses are using data to inform and manage new safety measures.
Both the proliferation of IoT options and their pace of adoption present a threat to the continued development of a resilient, digital built environment. One-off sensor solutions are great for quick install, zero interruption and immediate new insight, but they are in danger of creating a new generation of siloed systems.
Each type of IoT technology can improve specific systems such as lighting or access control, but the real power of digital technologies lies in creating energy and cost savings and operational efficiencies. Truly smart buildings demand that data is readily available to both IT and OT, helping to inform processes, decision-making, budgeting and investment using open, scalable systems that can optimize any equipment within a building or part of a given portfolio.
The vision for smart buildings of the near future is difficult to actualize because of the complexity of proprietary technologies, the diversity of systems installed in buildings and the hurdles of unifying IT and OT processes. Individual IoT solutions remain in high demand as a quick fix for specific one-dimensional challenges, but building owners and executives will be missing a huge opportunity if they fail to create a longer-term strategy with an emphasis on non-proprietary technologies.
A scalable digital infrastructure will support building owners and managers throughout their inevitable smart building journeys. These are five key steps to futureproofing buildings with investments that deliver value and prepare organizations for further top line growth:
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