For decades, technological innovation has been revolutionizing businesses, offering them innumerable long-term benefits and growth. Now, these technologies are set to transform structures that form the foundation of cities and their development. Comparing the buildings of the present to what they were even a few years ago will show massive changes. Modern buildings are more than just four walls and a roof. Building walls now even have ears and eyes, all thanks to digital technologies. According to studies, the global smart building market is expected to reach 36 billion US dollars by 2020.
With pervasive wireless connectivity, buildings today generate tons of data that can be used to improve efficiency and sustainability. With substantial advancements in technologies, several new technologies are extending their helping hand to bring buildings to life. One such technology that is bringing in new waves of change is AI. AI and smart buildings are an ideal combination to streamline, optimize and innovate the functioning of buildings. With AI and smart buildings combined, building managers can ensure improved structural reliability and minimized harmful ecological impacts.
Smart Buildings: Welcoming Buildings of the Future
Smart buildings have been a buzzword for quite some time now. However, what’s it all about? Well, there isn’t any universally accepted definition that we can refer to. In simple terms, smart buildings can be referred to as automated structural models capable of responding to real-time events. The idea behind this concept is to provide a hassle-free experience to occupants while efficiently utilizing energy resources. Earlier, buildings deployed CCTV surveillance cameras, smoke detection sensors and other light sensors for safety and efficiency. Today, several other smart sensors like temperature, humidity, CO2 and others are embedded in a building. Cameras and actuators are installed everywhere in a building. Data generated by these sources connect different building components and allow them to interact with each other. With such comprehensive data and intelligence, building managers have complete transparency and control of the buildings’ different systems. Keeping the comfort, safety and security of occupants in mind, managers can fine-tune the operations for enhancing the tenants’ living experience.
Smart buildings not only take complete care of residents’ comfort and safety but also promote energy and financial savings. Now, combined with IoT, AI also contributes to making smart buildings even smarter and more intelligent than ever.
AI and Smart buildings: Achieving Smart and Sustainable Buildings Goals
With the help of not-so-expensive, highly accessible, incredibly advanced IoT devices, large chunks of meaningful data are collected from every corner of a building. Data collected, if analyzed and processed effectively, has the potential to help managers with valuable, operational insights for making informed decisions. And to turn the raw data into actionable intelligence, AI plays a significant role. Without this incredible technology, the data gathered is futile or pointless. With AI, building managers can ensure operational efficiency to a larger extent, utilize assets reliably and improve the comfort level of occupants. Let’s understand how AI is helping buildings become smarter.
We spend 90 percent of the time indoors. Imagine the amount of water that we consume daily for different purposes. There is a rough estimation that an average American family uses 300 gallons of water each day at home. Imagine the amount of water consumed on a global scale. Water resources are becoming scarce. Hence, it is important to consider our water consumption levels and respond appropriately to reduce it. Building managers should, therefore, closely monitor the water usage levels of each family or office. However, manually keeping track of water usage is nearly impossible. Here’s where AI can be of great use.
Sensors embedded in water supply channels to toilets, bathrooms and water tanks will give information on the standard water consumption of a single-family or an office. The data from these sensors can be fed to an AI tool to check if any family or office is consuming more water than the expected levels. If yes, the tool will notify the manager and proper action can take place.
Everybody wants their building spaces to be clean, well-maintained and safe. By working with specialized cleaning companies, building managers can ensure that the structures are reliably clean and safe. Sensors and cameras can capture the details of every corner of a building. This data, when fed to an AI tool, can notify building managers about areas to carry out on-the-spot cleaning processes, providing improved service to occupants.
Buildings must be constantly monitored for anomalies and faults to ensure safety. To do so, building managers need a dedicated team of professionals to handle building maintenance. However, this might become an ordeal depending on the complexity of buildings.
AI can constantly process the data that comes from various sources. The AI tool will analyze inputs, study patterns and reveal hidden insights on any technical glitch or fault. For example, sensors and cameras installed in the lift will capture information about the performance of the lift. The data will then be processed by an AI tool to detect whether the lift is functioning well or about to breakdown. Proactive remedial actions can then be taken before the lift stops functioning properly.
Parking is a major concern for people in today's fast-paced world. While visiting any new place, a significant amount of time can be wasted identifying a vacant parking space. People prefer not to have any interaction with humans unless necessary. AI can play a significant role in these cases.
The pressure sensors in the ground and cameras all around can gather information on parking lots. An AI parking tool, when fed with this data, will analyze the parking space utilization and give complete information on empty parking spaces. Just by simple taps on their smartphones, a visitor will get comprehensive information on available parking spaces. The app will help navigate visitors to the right location for parking. Assistance like this will not only improve visitors' experience but also contribute to energy savings. That’s the power of AI and smart buildings.
Buildings, which have traditionally been mere brick and mortar enclosures, are now capable of responding to real-time needs. The fusion of sensors, cameras, actuators and other IoT devices have made buildings smart. But, AI is what makes smart buildings ‘smart’ in the truest sense of the word. In addition to reduced operational costs, enhanced tenant experience and improved asset utilization, smart buildings promote energy conservation as well. Now that’s exactly what sustainable development is all about, isn’t it?
Naveen Joshi is Founder and CEO of Allerin, which develops engineering and technology solutions focused on optimal customer experiences. Naveen works in AI, Big Data, IoT and Blockchain. An influencer with a half a million followers, he is a highly seasoned professional with more than 20 years of comprehensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment.