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Intelligent buildings: How IoT benefits builders, owners and tenants

Rogers for Business VP of Advanced Services Tess Van Thielen explains how a new breed of smart buildings goes far beyond basic building automation

Two men flying a drone

The greatest benefits come from a building with a full ecosystem of solutions that support building construction as well as building management and tenant engagement. 

Tess Van Thielen, Rogers for Business

A new breed of smart buildings powered by innovative IoT technologies is beginning to pop up in modern cities around the world, providing exciting opportunities for all involved. Every stakeholder, including owners, property managers and tenants, as well as the companies constructing these buildings of the future, stands to benefit from new efficiencies and reduced costs.

This was the topic of discussion at Intelligent Buildings, a webinar that brought together thought leaders from across Canada. Representatives from companies in construction, software and hardware development, communications, and investment management, gathered to talk about the pioneering ways in which IoT technologies are being applied in some of Canada's most interesting smart building construction projects.

Tess Van Thielen, Rogers for Business Vice President of Advanced Services, was on hand to provide insights and examples of how Rogers is helping advance the development of smarter buildings and explain the fundamental role played by robust and reliable connectivity in leveraging IoT solutions. She began by pointing out that there are important differences between what we know as basic building automation and truly intelligent buildings.

"An automated building has sensors that allow you to gather data and information in an automated way," she said. "For example, in an office building IoT devices can perform tasks on a set schedule so the thermostat manages heating and cooling based on date or time, and timers or motion sensors can be used for lighting."

Most people are familiar with this sort of automation, which can be easily installed in just about any building. An intelligent building, on the other hand, collects and analyzes a much richer data set, enabling quicker and more informed decision making that creates new benefits.

For example, water sensors in an intelligent building don't just set off an alarm when they sense water, but can also potentially turn off the water automatically.

Tess Van Thielen

"An intelligent building has a number of different automated elements, and the information gathered is aggregated and shared so that decisions can be made – manually or in an automated way," Van Thielen explained. "For example, water sensors in an intelligent building don't just set off an alarm when they sense water, but can also potentially turn off the water automatically. And that information is shared with other sensors so that you can manage the building in a cohesive and singular way."

The benefits of intelligent buildings are felt by all stakeholders, starting with the people who construct these buildings. PCL Construction, represented at the webinar by Manager, Digital Construction John Boktor, explained that intelligent buildings are being designed and built from the ground up with IoT sensors, leading to improvements in how they are constructed. As a field engineer a decade ago, part of his job was to walk the project site and make his way to specific floors to inspect reported problems such as temperature and humidity control.

"That's the traditional way of doing it," he said. "It takes time and effort. Today, using IoT sensors, I know where the problems are and I can begin focusing on the problem more quickly rather than waste my time in finding the problem."

This results in cost savings and more accurate worksite scheduling for construction companies like PCL, leads to a better built building – and an increased chance of it being completed on time and within budget – for the owner.

But it's the folks at the tail end of the chain, the tenants and people who regularly inhabit these buildings, who end up experiencing some of the most exciting benefits that truly smart buildings have to offer – with an ecosystem of solutions to help monitor and manage temperature, moisture and humidity, parking access for tenants and guests, security access/management, communication between management and tenants, package/parcel delivery and management and more.

"The goal of the smart building or the intelligent building is not just to improve the efficiency of building performance, but also to enhance the wellbeing and productivity of the occupants," said Van Thielen. But to reap the full benefit, end-user buy-in is important. Fortunately, she noted, “there are also IoT solutions to support the engagement of tenants.”

We look to perform the role of ‘Master Technology Integrator,’… (stitching) together the different solutions to deliver maximum benefit and automation.

Tess Van Thielen

She used advances in security technology to illustrate her point. Cameras and scanners capable of positively identifying permitted personnel can speed up security checkpoints and automatically open doors for known workers, eliminating the need for card keys. Technologies like this are not only immediately evident to building users, but also fascinating when first encountered. She believes they set smart buildings apart, and that they can be wielded as a tool when marketing to potential tenants.

"At Rogers we strongly believe that the greatest benefits come from a building with a full ecosystem of solutions that support building construction as well as building management and tenant engagement," said Van Thielen. "We look to perform the role of ‘Master Technology Integrator,’ …(stitching) together the different solutions to deliver maximum benefit and automation."

Indeed, the dependable connectivity supplied by Rogers has become the backbone of many intelligent buildings. Rogers operates a nation-spanning 5G network designed to promote the sort of Massive IoT technology being deployed in intelligent buildings and works with a variety of IoT technology solution providers, as well as building its own solutions. Rogers provides clients with innovative and proven products and solutions that help buildings reach their full automation potential.

You can learn more about the role Rogers for Business plays in the development of modern intelligent buildings and how Canada's largest communications company can help improve your building by getting in touch with a Rogers Business Specialist.