High-tech and human-centered: The rise of smart buildings

As connected solutions are introduced into buildings, real time monitoring will drive change in terms of how buildings are used. Meanwhile, a corresponding evolution in smart technology is focused on better facilities management – namely optimizing energy use and, increasingly, adapting the workplace experience to suit individual employees. 

Real Views sat down with Akshay Thakur, Regional Director of the Smart Buildings Programme EMEA at JLL to discuss the development of smart buildings – and what they mean for the way we work and the built environment.

What are the key technologies currently used in smart buildings? 

Right now, new technology is connecting different areas of a building either using wires, such as Power over Ethernet, where a single cable provides both data connection and electric power to various devices, or an array of wireless networks; Wifi, Bluetooth or short range radio are the most popular mediums at the moment. Increasingly, building sub-systems are being connected to a common network to allow for easier monitoring, better facilities management, and new user experiences. All of this is made possible by accessing data which was traditionally locked in each sub-systems management platform.

We’re already seeing companies adopt technology that enables workplaces to be more efficient; sensors can detect which areas of an office are in use and feed into an app that allows someone to find the nearest empty meeting room. Other apps might adjust temperature in line with the preferences of different workgroups.

Down the line, buildings could interact with both people and their personal devices to help further understand how they’re using a workspace – and optimize the environment and benefit they get from it. The key difference between where we are now and where we’ll be in the future is the interface we use to interact with buildings. Over time we should find that buildings are increasingly adapting to our requirements, almost predicting our demands and facilitating the environment to ensure the user experience is hassle-free or very intuitive.