IoT-enabled systems are becoming increasingly affordable within the industry.
It’s no secret the “Internet of Things,” or IoT, can greatly improve building automation systems.
As the industry emphasizes the need to understand the building IoT market, the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) has taken a closer look at the major aspects of IoT related to commercial buildings.
Over the course of a year, CABA’s research showed that, while IoT is not a specific device or technology, it’s a conceptual framework driven by embedding connectivity and intelligence in a range of devices. Most industry defines IoT as a system of physical things embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity that can exchange data with other connected devices. An IoT device is one with some embedded connectivity that allows hardware to be linked to the Internet or tethered to an Internet-addressable device. Our market research projects that by 2025’s end, there will be roughly 70 billion IoT-connected devices.
The first stage of IoT evolution saw the birth of manifold connected and intelligent devices, with innovations developed for smartphones finding their way into the nascent IoT market. Now IoT is shifting from pure hardware connectivity toward collecting data from devices, due to continuing advances in sensor and storage technology. Such advances in connectivity and computing power means IoT-enabled systems are more affordable and available within the industry.
As an example, five years ago, property owners or managers of small standalone, 20,000-square-foot office buildings could not afford extensive digital direct control temperature systems with energy management features. Now, owners of smaller buildings can leverage enhanced control systems that are Internet-connected with minimal initial costs.
Our research shows owners of large commercial building portfolios are also incorporating IoT in exciting ways. Building automation systems can now leverage control functions that maximize system performance using mobile Internet data services, along with equipment that allows millions of data points to be stored and reviewed. In addition, powerful appliances, including wireless thermostat technology, can be interconnected, creating affordable options for building owners and managers to link to countless building controls through a specific property or throughout a wider property portfolio.
Having such smart technology in building automation equipment means equipment issues can be diagnosed before service technicians are required to be dispatched. Predictive maintenance through IoT systems will prevent possible equipment failure and associated downtime, thereby saving time and money.Through new IoT technology, property owners and managers can control building operations and respond to tenant requests from apps on their smart devices. One challenge our market research found, however, is regarding standards, open APIs, cybersecurity, and the cloud. These must be resolved to determine how to manage and access huge data sets and yield meaningful insights.
We project real value from IoT will amass in the years ahead, as mountains of data accessed from HVACR devices are examined. Our research affirms the value of IoT is expressed through practical applications like intelligent buildings, where previously isolated systems become functionality integrated, sharing data, and thereby providing wider benefits.
Ron Zimmer is president and CEO of CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Association). He is a certified association executive with more than 30 years of association management experience. He regularly makes presentations on integrated buildings and home/building automation at international industry events.