The Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics are rapidly transforming the commercial real estate industry. Advancements in IoT technology are enabling an unprecedented level of device connectivity.
Today, everything from our smartphones, HVAC and lighting systems, appliances, elevators, and access control are linked together using IoT to create truly intelligent buildings. By 2022, more than $82 billion will be spent on IoT-based sensors and devices designed for industrial, retail and office buildings, according to Memoori research firm.
As IoT technology plays an increasingly significant role in the commercial real estate sector, building owners and landlords will need to consider adopting these technologies if they want to remain competitive with peers.
However, with the plethora of options available today, vetting these technologies can be confusing. Here are the top five things that property managers should to do prepare their buildings for IoT technology-enabled smart building devices and sensors.
- Outsource to an expert.
Hire the most experienced, well-recommended contractor, consultant, integrator or IoT vendor to guide you through this process. Find resources on our website at www.connectedremag.com – you’ll be glad you did this.
- Double down on optical fiber infrastructure.
The performance of any device or building system depends on the underlying network of optical fiber. A robust optical fiber backbone enables all the systems installed in the building — including cellular, Wi-Fi and networks of wireless systems, IoT devices and sensors — to communicate and operate efficiently.
Ample optical fiber and CAT6 cabling are the two most important requirements to ensure that your building is truly future proof. In response to the increasing demand for smart building devices and sensors, more developers of smart buildings are doubling the availability of optical fiber.
Developers of Miami’s Panorama Tower, the tallest building on the East Coast south of Manhattan, has tripled their optical fiber cabling and installed separate fiber networks to the tower’s security and building automation systems to manage anticipated demand for smart building devices and sensors in the future.
Without ample fiber, it’s impossible to future proof your property to meet the future demand from occupants and smart building devices for speed, data transmission and capacity.
- Assess your existing building systems.
It’s essential to assess your building’s existing HVAC, lighting, security, fire control, building automation, plumbing, and in-building cellular systems to identify which ones need to be updated first. Determine which areas are most dated and will yield the greatest tenant satisfaction while giving you the highest return on investment. It’s important to consider how IoT technology can add to the experience of your customers, both tenants and occupants.
- Create a comprehensive smart building automation plan.
Building owners who want to adopt smart building technology should make a comprehensive plan which includes both their short-term outcomes and long-term goals, according to Darlene Pope, Global Head of Smart Buildings and Digital Workplace Experience at WeWork. While it may not be feasible to implement the entire project at one time, it is important to lay out all your objectives and goals.
Having a plan to ensure what you are putting in today will work within the long-term, and knowing where you want to be three to five years down the line will help you better vet solutions, Pope says.
It’s also important to make sure that your internal IT team and key stakeholders from human resources, finance, facilities management, leasing/sales, and other departments are a part of the planning process from day one and remain actively involved in the vetting process for solutions. It’s through their feedback that you will be able to better understand the kinds of solutions which will work best for both your tenants and your building.
- Look for IoT platforms that demonstrate real value.
As the number of The Internet of Things (IoT) platforms continues to multiply, it’s important to think about how you are going to get and use the data from these platforms and applications. Make sure that your IoT platforms are fully configurable with a software platform architecture that can simultaneously and asynchronously act on any type of information from any device, storage, or streaming source.
It’s useless to put in an IoT smart building solution if you can’t pull or process the data in real-time. It’s also important to ensure that the platforms can easily integrate with other systems if needed so you can add on other solutions and applications as needed over time. One thing to keep in mind is whether the platform uses a connectivity solution which offers a path towards migration to 5G. If not, it may not be the best choice for your building in the long-run.
- Experiment with one system at a time.
It’s best to start small and install one system at a time. Start with one large conference room or auditorium, install sensors for activation of lights in the parking garage, or update your HVAC systems. Once you have deployed a few small-scale solutions, you will be able to determine the return on investment and you will also have feedback from occupants and tenant regarding the technology. This way, if you need to tweak a solution or add something, you can do so without having to completely rip and replace everything, saving both money and time.