Are We There Yet? The Journey to an Autonomous Building

Friday, September 16, 2016 10:00 am EDT

By:

Dave Hopping, President of the Building Technologies Division – Americas

Over the past few years, I’ve heard a variety of terms used in the Building Technology industry to describe the latest technological and analytical advances: Intelligent Infrastructure, Internet of Things, and Digitalization. No matter which term you use, what we’re all talking about for buildings is the next generation of automation. In short, it boils down to how best to connect building systems, using applications, to drive more value for the customer.

Last week, several of my team members and I presented at the Siemens Industry Analyst Conference in Boston, where we discussed Siemens’ digital strategy for building technologies and what connected buildings will look like in the future. The end goal for the Building Technology industry is to create an ecosystem of connected devices, systems and buildings designed to maximize the potential of the built environment. This will allow customers to be even more effective at what they do – be it conducting business, teaching young minds, or safeguarding lives.

Customers’ expectations are at the heart of this digital transformation of buildings. They want instant, round-the-clock access to application-based, easy-to-use and understand information via a user-defined experience (such as role-based reporting). 

Connectivity will become even more important in the years ahead, with an estimated 25 billion connected devices in use by 2020 – a number that will far surpass the number of people alive!1 The cost of creating and using these devices has decreased significantly over the last two decades. In the coming years, business IP traffic is predicted to grow at a significant rate, with mobile computing expected to more than double.2 The trend towards having information constantly available at our fingertips is only expected to continue into the future.

Industry experts are tracking how integrating building systems with advanced analytics software is helping customers progress through their journey of building performance analytics. Whereas years ago, customers tended towards taking more of a reactive and preventative approach to building management, they are now moving towards a proactive and predictive approach. The ultimate goal is for customers to eventually reach a systems balanced approach that will result in autonomous buildings. With autonomous buildings, customers will be able to not only reduce energy consumption, downtime, and staff levels, but also provide service on demand and rules-based performance management. 

We have made a lot of progress over the last few years, but autonomous buildings are still a few years away. We’ll get there, though, by pairing technology and analytics with building experts and service, and by continuing to meet customers’ expectations. 
 

1McKinsey report - June, 2015

2Goldman Sachs report “The next industrial revolution” - July, 2014

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