As technology advances, buildings are no longer perceived merely as depreciating assets. Smart buildings are improving the use, management and monitoring of assets, while also reducing energy costs and carbon footprints.
Modern buildings are fitted with millions of real-time data points that can capture temperature and humidity levels, collect occupancy statistics as well as other measurements. The smart building concept is based on using advanced sensing, connectivity and Big Data analytics to dynamically shape the environment.
In theory, smart buildings can deliver services that make occupants more productive at the lowest cost and environmental impact over the building lifecycle (e.g. illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, sanitation and many more). As a result, energy and operations can potentially be managed more efficiently.
Enter Big Data and IoT
Turning this vision into a reality requires adding intelligence from the beginning of design phase through to the end of the building’s useful life.
Developing a fully-functional smart building is thus based on combining the Internet of Things (IoT) with Big Data technology.
Internet of Things technologies enable sensors to communicate with one another, allowing for the quick completion of tasks. High speed analytics that support smart buildings aggregate information from Internet-connected devices. These sensors create, process and deliver information to a central command hub that provides rapid databases with the raw data needed to make decisions.
After the data is combined it needs to be modelled in order to adjust for seasonality, measurement scales and other factors that may skew the findings. Once combined and modelled, the opportunities for Big Data can emerge. Analytics and algorithms can be run on the data to identify operational and energy savings. Fault detection and building optimization are the two primary methods to drive savings and provide quick payback on the cost of installing the solution.
Finally, the Big Data analysis must be presented to stakeholders. The facilities team needs a dashboard to show where the faults are, or will be. In contrast, the chief financial officer requires a dashboard to reveal where the savings are being made. What makes a smart building “smart” is the combination of Big Data analytics and IoT technology.
Biggest Challenge to Building Smart Buildings
On a practical level, the challenge for facilities and finance teams has long been to leverage building data. While increasingly affordable building technologies in everything from indoor air quality sensors to circuit-level sub-metering have been developed, it has taken a few more years to design and implement the logistical tools that can produce a cohesive total picture of how a building is performing. Retrofitting projects today are more likely to take place since there is better access to the data required to make informed capital investment decisions.
As such, it’s safe to say that the smart building era is upon us. Memoori Smart Building Research estimates that the market for Big Data and Cloud Based Software and Services in Smart Buildings will grow at a rate of 33.2% CAGR to nearly $30 Billion by 2020.
Smart buildings go far beyond saving energy and contributing to sustainability goals. They impact the security and safety of all resources, human and capital. Smart buildings are a key component of a future where information technology and human ingenuity combine to produce the robust, low-carbon economy.
One company that’s successfully harmonizing the dynamic interaction between people (e.g. facilities and finance teams), the IoT infrastructure (e.g. sensors) and the enormous data being created is SQream Technologies. SQream’s unique GPU-based (Graphic Processing Unit) Big Data analytics database enables the ingestion, storing and analysis of massive-sized data sets in real-time, with small-sized hardware (on-premise) or through a cloud analytics DWH platform.