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Easy life, complex technology

Buildings of the Future

Easy life: complex technology

Famous author Arthur C Clark once said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In a way ̶  this captures the essence of what technology installed in Buildings of the Future should aim to achieve. The technology should ‘just work’ without the user understanding how.

Technology as ‘invisible'

The ultimate goal for technology is that the facilities management of the Building of the Future will self-manage, learn, anticipate, adapt and enhance: without the users being aware of it.

In future, it will be called upon to fulfil multiple roles, including that of smart device; concierge and scholar. In addition, technology such as robotics and 3D printing will revolutionise both how and what we build with.

“I don’t consider it a success if people are talking about the technology, not how they feel.”


“Ideally, technology in a building is unnoticeable. All the automation is happening without any input or comprehension by the user.”

Buildings – only smarter

Taken a step further, the Building Internet of Things (BIoT), or developing a building as a smart device able to transmit and receive data for the use and management of buildings, is a hot topic.

“If you talk about the attributes of the new age building, I think it is the full integration of systems: that is a really exciting topic.”

In the near future, the BIoT will involve an app with IP-based interface, which connects all sensors and equipment to a main backbone Building Management System that proactively optimises the operation of the building, including:

  • Centralised control and maintenance of HVAC and lighting
  • Personalised comfort conditions and collaboration opportunities
  • Monitored occupancy and usage so that space can be adapted, reconfigured and rezoned depending on need
  • The delivery of energy at the right time to the right place

In future, open software architecture and open protocol language will make our buildings ‘hackable’!

Need advice? Call the (building) concierge

Critically, the data our Buildings of the Future collect have the potential for far more than just facilities management.

In many airports, it’s no longer necessary to stand in a queue to check in and people are expecting the same kind of easy, technology-driven check-ins at hotels. Thanks to technology, a guest’s name can be displayed on the welcome desk at a digital check-in station; their food preferences or past purchases displayed in a digital room-service order system; and TV, movies and music provided on demand. This ‘concierge in your pocket’ concept is fast gaining popularity and also allows operators to include useful information such as surrounding entertainment venues; medical facilities; and similar services.

A building as scholar

Beyond its influence on building management, some believe that the ultimate win would be technology that can self-manage, learn, anticipate, adapt and enhance, or at least tell you when there is a problem.

We might soon see ‘intuitive’ buildings emerge and the integration of artificial intelligence. Within this reality, a building facade ‘intuitively’ reacts when shadows are cast across it and adjusts its shades and solar panels accordingly.

“I want the building to know me; my preferences, my habits, my behaviours and respond to them.”

Taken a step further, data analytics systems are increasingly being utilised to analyse occupation, space utilisation and energy consumption, and these learnings will continue to be applied to a wide range of diverse applications.

Buildings of the Future will increasingly use data analytics to automatically deliver improvements in efficiency.

“IoT and Big Data are inextricably linked. The true value of the IoT is not the connection of devices or machines, but making sense of what is required to make a building intelligent.”

Where are we heading?

Aurecon understands that while the rate of uptake of robotics isn’t certain, one thing is: those working on Buildings of the Future will need to maintain an appetite for new and advanced technology, materials and methodologies if they want to stay relevant.

A centralised industry portal to share and purchase solutions and information within a global community may not be as out of reach as it initially appears. This could include a “Buildings of the Future” app store which complies with industry standard measures and sells bespoke apps or tools to build your own app, supported by your local IP precinct hub with access to IT, economic and data analytics advice. This would allow for entire precincts and cities to share and collaborate rather than operate in isolation.

We will also have to consider the influence of leapfrog technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies which will make self-executing contracts possible. Facilities will, in effect, not only be run smarter, but run themselves. Public ledgers will bring greater transparency to supply chain records and the possibility of intelligent building parts will connect the physical and digital worlds.

Although we cannot predict the future, we’ll need to stay one step ahead of these game changing technologies with a ‘leapfrog’ mindset.

What should we be asking?

  • When the BIoT kicks in, how will we manage and make sense of the sheer volume of data emitted?
  • What is the order of importance of data and what data do we not need to collate/store?
  • How will the sharing of data take place and who owns the data?
  • How do new construction processes and materials become mainstream when the industry is resistant to change?
  • Could Buildings of the Future have less technology?
  • How will leapfrog technology such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies change how buildings are managed?

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