Designing a Smart Building
As Bosch embarks on the Smart Building journey, here is how we picture the designing of smart buildings, smart cities and even smart nations. We interviewed Michael Goh, Director of Sales in ASEAN and Adrian Tan, Senior Manager of Business Development from Singapore, to find out about the Bosch Building Technologies team's take on Smart Buildings.
"Smart solutions emerge when we piece together these individual systems and are able to cross-pollinate the data that they generate to address a particular use case"
What is our vision for Smart Buildings?
When we set out to develop a smart building, a smart city, or even a smart nation, what we start with are constituent systems, each addressing a different set of challenges. Smart solutions emerge when we piece together these individual systems and are able to cross-pollinate the data they generate to address a particular use case.
As we start thinking along these lines, we also start to look at how we can combine technologies from different domains to address different challenges and we then start to understand how we can go about designing a smart building.
What is your approach to developing smart building solutions?
Different stakeholders usually face different types of individual challenges, which we need to identify first of all in order to develop the right solution for them. One of the main reoccurring challenges we see is inefficiency. Inefficiency can manifest itself in different forms. For example, from the building occupants’ standpoint, the inefficiencies could stem from people being delayed in getting to their workplaces by, for example, having to wait for lifts or having negative user experiences. Operational pain points can be the bottleneck at access control points, when large numbers of people make their way to work in the morning or visitors come in for appointments.
How does Bosch provide solutions to these challenges?
If we apply this Smart Building approach, we will be looking at how we can create new technologies in order to come up with innovative ways to solve existing problems. For example, if we are able to combine access control and visitor management systems with facial recognition systems and CCTVs we may be able to provide a similar, if not better way of securing access and doing so more efficiently.
An ideal scenario, made possible with our facial recognition system, is that visitors and staff will no longer need an access card. They walk in, the camera scans and recognizes their faces, and the turnstile opens for them to walk through.
The technology has evolved to the point where this is now possible. Therefore, we are able to combine these technologies to create operational systems with new capabilities.
How are smart building solutions appealing to/applicable in Asia Pacific?
From a facility manager’s perspective, the smart building concept is especially appealing in labour-tight countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore, because it shows the way to reduce inefficiency through the use of technology. It could lead to a paradigm shift in the way building services are delivered, from scheduled maintenance to more efficient and targeted just-in-time servicing.
For example, instead of checking all light bulbs in a building every three months, we can have services that prompt the facility manager to take action only as and when they need to be changed. This may even lead to new ways of optimizing usage. Instead of always replacing bulbs that are often used, they could be swapped with those that are used less so that the usage is evened up.
Different organizations will have different strategies for dealing with operational challenges. But having access to this data and information enables us to choose the best way to move forward as a region.
Besides creating operational solutions, what are the other possible uses of smart building data that can be directly beneficial to end users?
Other than achieving greater operational efficiencies in facilities management, smart building capabilities also enable us to introduce new types of services to end-users. For example, with smart cameras in the canteen, we are able to detect if it is crowded. It is then possible to offer a service to tenants allowing them to check, in real time, the queues at the canteen, so that they can decide whether to go there for lunch now or wait until later.
We can also have cameras looking at outdoor parking spaces, so that it is possible for us to allow visitors to check before coming to this location, if there is going to be a parking space.
How does that work?
It is possible through providing analytics and allowing the data that is generated into the data collection layer. In the case of the parking space service, the data is collected in the cloud, and thus users are able to obtain this data anywhere. In fact, if we collect enough data overtime, we can have a visualization of historical trends, – for example at what time of the day the car park is crowded and on which day of the week.
Other examples of potential smart building applications through using the data collected include capturing footfall traffic to negotiate rental adjustment with tenants or identifying the best location to set up a new billboard. The Smart Building way of thinking gives us a more informed way to make these decisions.
What do you have to say about the future of smart buildings and how we should approach them?
Primarily, smart building solutions are driven by the need to improve efficiency and reduce cost. But there are also other opportunities out there that are yet to be explored.
As we embark on the Smart Building journey, we are reaching out to innovation teams to conduct trials and proof of concepts. When discussing Smart Buildings, the focus is not on delivering ready-made solutions. Rather, it is about thinking in a certain way in order to design smart buildings, smart cities and even smart nations.
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