There is no doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the commercial real estate sector. It has emphasised the use of space in buildings, tapping into the connections of people and the environment. For real estate investment and management, buildings, people and energy performance form part of the network which can benefit from the IoT movement.
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In Part 1, I eluded to the IoT as the ecosystem of things that are interconnected through sensors and connections. A building is a perfect example of this. When we start to connect the dots between the elements of a building’s design and operation, we can use the data to tell us more about what is going on in that building and how we can manage it in a better way.
What are the opportunities for the IoT in buildings?
Many sensors in the building can ‘sense’ the environment and gather information in real-time. The types of information that can be collected are light, humidity and temperature etc. With the IoT, it is possible to collect, compile and analyse data remotely about that building, which can be conveniently accessed via the cloud. As I mentioned in Part 1, data is the currency in this age.
Here are five ways the IoT can add-value:
1. Energy Efficiency
IoT technology can help increase efficiency through enhanced building performance and better management of the portfolio. One way this can be achieved is through looking at how spaces are being used. Data exchanges can give an insight into the value of processes and interactions between occupants and building operation. The building will become a smarter hub, where data can inform systems which can directly engage with occupants and adjust for their needs and the environment. From this, we can create more targeted energy distribution strategies and tenant engagement programmes.
2. Connectivity to the Cloud
IoT enabling technologies such as sensors can ensure data availability and visualization without being on-site at the building. Data can give an indication of how the building is operating and patterns can be identified in energy consumption or temperature for example. From this, many metrics can be linked together to give the larger picture on building performance.
3. Improved Living and Working Spaces
IoT is the step forward in making the environment more comfortable and reduce wastage; this creates new avenues for revenue generation through tapping into the essence of building use and adjusting where necessary. In the future, we can expect smart building technologies to have self-learning capabilities, like the human brain, to recognise patterns and make real-time adjustments.
4. Sustainability strategies
Building sustainability management strategies can be informed by data, which can lead to more accurate predictive capabilities and better asset management. The building can be optimized and operational costs reduced through IoT-enabled Building Management Systems (BMS). For example, occupant comfort is an opportunity and the use of better zoning controls can help achieve this; keeping occupants happy whilst reducing operational costs.
5. Building Design
Sensors collect data on how spaces are being utilized and this data can feed into the mathematical models for building intentions at the design-phase.
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Overall, the IoT movement has the potential to generate new avenues for revenue generation by tapping into the connections between people and buildings. As the world is becoming an increasingly interconnected place, cities are becoming smarter and the need for data applications accessible through the cloud is necessary.