The foundation of a smart building

ACN meets with Macro International and Commscope to breakdown the characteristics of a building intelligence

Tags: Building management systems (BMS)CommScope IncorporationMacro ( Arab Emirates
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The foundation of a smart building Experts from Macro International and Commscope discuss the latest developments and challenges surrounding building intelligence and analytics.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  May 11, 2017

Imran Akram, director of fm24, Macro International’s own Helpdesk and CAFM service

ACN:  How would you define the concept ‘building intelligence’?

Imran Akram: This entails the use of technology to create automated communication transactions. Predominantly sensors will be used, and with their associated programming many services can be managed such as lighting (motion detection), air flow control (adjusted for the number of occupants), access management, and smart metering. A specific example is heat sensors in a server room: if the temperature limit is exceeded this would trigger an alert in the building management system. In turn, the temperature would be adjusted.

ACN: To what extent has something akin to building intelligence been adopted in the region?

IA: Within the Middle East there are significant variations per country. More developed countries such as the UAE are taking the lead. This is in part due to environmental building requirements. Abu Dhabi follows its own green building accreditation framework, Estidama, whereas other Emirates are following the US Green Building Council LEED standard.

ACN: How do you envision the capabilities of building intelligence continuing to evolve over the next few years? How much of the ‘human element’ do you believe it will replace?

IA: With not just building intelligence, but with other technology, artificial intelligence will play a larger role in business processes. Many decisions will be made without the need for human input, through algorithms for example. However, service-delivery will still remain a human-led function.

ACN: To what extent has analytics been adopted by FM and asset managers? In what ways is analytics aiding in the management of buildings?

IA: By utilising a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system, facilities management (FM) companies can refer to data which will give them critical information regarding asset resource and the supply chain, as well as environmental and financial performance. This information is communicated through defined management reports and web-enabled real-time dashboards, with access parameters set depending on the user, for example the client or service provider.

ACN: How do you see the use of analytics in FM continuing to change over the next five years, particularly as cities become more invested in smart services?

IA: Analytical data in the coming years will be used more and more for predictive activities. This means the design life span of assets is maintained, as work is carried out well in advance of degradation or breakdown. For example, the use of vibration or temperature sensors to detect early signs of potential failure. With an increase in smart services, FM companies will in turn need to provide smart solutions. Having the right data at the right time will be critical in achieving this.

ACN: What are some of the IT technologies and trends that are currently influencing the FM and asset management market?

IA: The process of Building Information Modelling (BIM) is something that is coming to the fore in the FM industry. This ensures a common data set flows through each key stage of a building’s life cycle, from system to system, through from design to construction, operation and refurbishment or redevelopment. Another trend gaining traction is that of mobility solutions and apps. Historically, only solutions that can be used by the service provider have been available. Now there is a change where end user solutions are available, and in some instances have a social media or chat ‘look and feel’. This ensures all key stakeholders are interacting with a single system.

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