The role of IoT in smart buildings: the future has arrived

Jan 25 2024 | Case Studies, General

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is already transforming how we operate small devices around the home – and the smart building industry is no different. Recent reports suggest the number of buildings using smart IoT solutions will scale from 45 million in 2022 to 115 million in 2026, and with rapid growth comes compelling opportunity.

Inauro and SafetyCulture have been exploring IoT building management, weaving purpose-built connectivity solutions into the fabric of SafetyCulture’s Surry Hills office location. This setup benefits the company’s decision-making process and works as a demo landscape for SafetyCulture customers of what an IoT-enabled building can do. 

But, as with any IoT solution, there are benefits and challenges. 

 

What is IoT in building management?

IoT technology connects devices and sensors to the internet, allowing users to analyse and act on data in real-time – even via remote connection.

IoT can monitor and control various aspects of the building’s operations in smart buildings via a data fusion platform.

 

Looking to the sky, highrise buildings feature with graphics of smart connected devices overlaid

With 5G networks advancing and more complex and sophisticated IoT applications evolving, we can expect to see a surge in smart buildings.

Delivering smart IoT solutions

In SafetyCulture’s case, specific solutions have been deployed to solve essential business requirements. These included:

  • zone detection sensors to provide heatmaps to identify which areas of the building are in use and at which times
  • people counters to help the catering team prepare the correct amount of food and reduce waste
  • temperature alerts for the refrigerated assets of the buildings to monitor food storage
  • door sensors to change the restroom servicing from time-based to on-demand
  • noise sensors on the rooftop to remain compliant with Council regulations and minimise impact on neighbouring residents
  • soil moisture sensors to trigger irrigation cycles, optimising cleaning rosters, and green asset maintenance.

Inauro’s Chief Technology Officer, Mitch Hirsch, worked closely on the project and noted, “These solutions have one thing in common; they take the guesswork and human-induced delays out of the equation, and ultimately, the building runs itself.”

 

The benefits of IoT building management

As with any IoT solution, smart buildings can be customised. These benefits can include:

 

Improved building energy efficiency and sustainability

  • Smart thermostats can learn the preferences and habits of users to set optimal temperatures for each room. 
  • Smart lighting systems turn off the lights when no one is present.
  • Smart meters can provide real-time feedback on energy usage and costs.

Reduced maintenance costs with predictive maintenance

  • Smart sensors can measure the vibration, temperature and pressure of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and alert any sign of damage or malfunction. 
  • Smart sensors can also monitor the structural health of the building, including cracks, corrosion or moisture, preventing potential hazards. 

According to a report by Deloitte, predictive maintenance can increase productivity by 25%, reduce breakdowns by 70% and lower maintenance costs by 25%

Optimised use of space

  • Smart cameras and motion sensors can display the availability of meeting rooms, desks or parking spaces on a dashboard or mobile app. 

Enhanced tenant security, comfort and safety

  • Smart locks and biometric scanners can provide secure and convenient access to the building and prevent unauthorised entry. 
  • Smart cameras and alarms can monitor the building’s perimeter and interior and detect any suspicious activity or emergency. 
  • Smart speakers and voice assistants can provide information and entertainment, enabling hands-free control of the building’s devices and systems. 
  • Smart smoke detectors and sprinklers can detect and respond to fire incidents, alerting the fire brigade and building occupants.

As with most digital solutions, smart buildings will also have challenges. One of the most crucial is ensuring a reliable data flow. 

Mitch explains, “In buildings, there always are connectivity black spots, and ground knowledge is key. In the first few days of deploying people counting solutions for SafetyCulture, we noticed our counters weren’t returning to zero at the end of each day. Was the count inaccurate? Were people staying overnight? There weren’t many, but enough to raise the question. After investigating, we discovered some employees commonly accessed an emergency exit door that shouldn’t have been used.”

A modern workplace with a computer on a desk

Prioritising dynamic and engaging workplaces help bring employees back to the workplace.

 

The future of IoT enabled buildings

 

With 5G networks advancing, and more complex and sophisticated IoT applications evolving, we can expect to see a surge in smart buildings IoT. A report by Markets and Markets predicts the global smart building market will reach over USD 121.6 billion by 2026. These figures come in addition to IDC reports that the total of Asia Pacific IoT investments will likely reach USD 435 billion in 2027, moving at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% from 2023 to 2027.

As the IoT market matures, there will be an increased need for regulation to ensure the quality, compatibility and security of devices and solutions.

Mitch advises, “With companies looking to bring employees back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to prioritise dynamic and engaging workplaces. Regulation will shortly follow, and we can already see certifications like WELL taking the forefront in building validations.” 

 

How to implement smart building IoT solutions

 

It’s important to liaise with experts to identify your opportunities. Make a list of the challenges you currently have or data you’d like to see, and the Inauro team can help guide you through the options. 

Reach out today to streamline your business operations.

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