The Future of Smart Buildings and Their Place in the ‘New Normal’ 

It is hard to deny that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for increased interest in smart buildings – sales of smart building technologies are predicted to increase in 2020 due to heightened demand.   

Air Quality

This time, in which our commercial spaces have largely been unoccupied, has been instrumental in illustrating their shortcomings. Despite this, it is short-sighted to imagine that the innovations born of, and gaining attention due to the pandemic are only useful while businesses have to work within the restraints brought on by COVID-19. This article plans to explore the current uses and future potential of smart building technology as our society moves towards a ‘new normal.’

Energy

Lockdown highlighted how much energy we waste in our commercial buildings, with buildings still operating at 84% of their usage despite not being in use. Smart buildings can drastically change our energy consumption – for example, here at Pulse we have sensors that can tell you exactly how much energy your building is wasting and allow you to react to that data in real-time. This would allow you to do things like identify forgotten light switches and turn them off, all without having to enter the building.

Air Quality

The onset of a global pandemic has made us, as a society, more interested in health and the quality of the air that we breathe. While our sensors obviously do not have the capability of detecting COVID-19 in the air, they can promote the overall health and well-being of consumers. Bad air quality is a major public health risk, as we outline <here> and our Butterfly sensor can detect everything from cO2 to formaldehyde – promoting overall public health and wellbeing.

Use of space

COVID-19 has also brought attention to use of space. There is a focus on less overcrowding, knowing which areas of commercial spaces are used most often and how they are used. To this end, footfall counters, which we provide here at Pulse are useful. This has obvious benefits for businesses operating under the limitations of social distancing regulations, but could be extended to knowing which areas of retail spaces are frequented at different times – meaning that staff could know exactly when to restock or clean aisles.

Ease of use

All of these new concepts may seem pricey and hard to integrate into current building management systems, but this is not the case – in fact, all of these sensors can be integrated into existing building management systems fairly easily and affordably. In addition, with our bespoke Cloud BMS solutions, they can all be accessed in the same place, remotely – empowering the managers of commercial spaces to make their buildings work for them.

Privacy

With all of this data being collected, it might raise concerns about how easy it is to access. Security is a huge priority for us as a business, and is one of the things that sets us apart. By implementing the Open Connectivity Foundation’s standards, we are secure by design. There is complete, end-to end encryption, and your data is only accessible by those you have authorised to see it. Even our footfall counters, which may initially seem obtrusive, work by sensing a person’s heat signature – not their image, which means they’re anonymous.