Will FM become the future ‘big brother’?

Several years ago in the UK, a few contractors woke up one morning and realised that losing lots of money on every job while being sued by their clients, wasn’t really much fun at all. On the same day, they discovered that there was far more cash to be had replenishing toilet rolls in government hospitals and changing light bulbs for local councils, than there ever would be in the trivial business of building landmark feats of engineering that would last through the centuries.

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By  Sean Cronin Published  April 29, 2006

|~||~||~|Several years ago in the UK, a few contractors woke up one morning and realised that losing lots of money on every job while being sued by their clients, wasn’t really much fun at all. On the same day, they discovered that there was far more cash to be had replenishing toilet rolls in government hospitals and changing light bulbs for local councils, than there ever would be in the trivial business of building landmark feats of engineering that would last through the centuries. So they all started calling themselves ‘support services companies’. Their share prices soared, dividends were dispatched and the stock market loved it. Overnight the harsh din of hammers and drills was replaced by the gentle hum of floor-polishers. And so the industry of Brunel and Telford was transformed. Now worrying signs are emerging that it could happen here too, with noises being made about facilities management (FM) overtaking construction in industry value. I suppose there is just the one listed UAE contractor and not many more scattered throughout the Bourses of the GCC, so maybe our fears are premature. But the increasingly litigious nature of the local industry and the sharp rise in construction costs must have got a lot of contractors wondering if they’re in the right game — especially as developers are now beginning to respond to residents demands for improved levels of FM service. Such demands may well have prompted the ominous-sounding press release dispatched this week from Emaar Towers announcing the creation of a CCC — that’s a Command Control Centre, before you ask. The CCC, we are told, will be responsible for monitoring all Emaar Properties, or ‘EP’s’. Apparently, information will be channelled from each building into a central point, where any alarms or faults will be detected and addressed immediately. The CCC will not only monitor fire and lift alarms, but also water tank levels, air conditioner status, water pressure and the like. The idea is that through the wonders of modern technology, such lifestyle-threatening incidents can be instantly beamed to the Emaar Facilities Management Command Bunker, where presumably a Homer Simpson-like figure is on hand to press the necessary buttons between doughnuts. It all sounds very clever, albeit in a slightly scary sort of way. You can almost picture the Emaar satellites circling over the Meadows and Springs, pinpointing targets to be terminated with extreme prejudice. “Unauthorised wheelie bin spotted in sector bravo, Captain. The eagles are flying, I say again, the eagles are flying.”||**||

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