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The Path to Smarter Buildings

by Jason Andersen

The buildings we sit in or public spaces we visit (like airports) today are getting smarter all the time. A simple case in point is the lights that automatically turn on when you enter your office. A more advanced example is when your badge reader is tied to your company’s HR database and provides secure access to a room. A future example is when you can access a room with your badge (or phone) and that room’s lighting and climate is automatically set to meet your preferences. This future is real and a lot of technology is beginning to converge to usher it in. These advancements are all very exciting, but for those directly involved in creating smart buildings, we should not underestimate the complexity involved. Here are some key considerations when charting your course towards a smarter building.

  1. Plan to consolidate your building technology– Right now every different building control (heating, power monitoring, video, access control) is on a separate application which is likely to be deployed on separate servers. This leads to a heavy footprint that is hard to manage and is likely costing you too much money. So, often the first step towards a smarter building is to virtualize your building’s software infrastructure. Stratus and our partners can provide you with the reliable foundation required for this with our recently announced Stratus Always-On Infrastructure for Smart Buildings.
  2. Take a close look at your needs for availability and fault tolerance– Once you have consolidated your solutions, you’ll invariably be forced to decide how and where to virtualize these applications. The easy answer is to just add the VMs into your existing data center. That’s a pretty good idea if your needs for availability and compliance are pretty basic (say in an office campus). But if you have critical areas to serve (such as access controls into a clinical environment or runway lighting controls at an airport) where no amount of downtime is acceptable, you may need a specialized solution deployed on site that ensures that failures of service won’t happen. And remember the more applications or building services you consolidate onto an infrastructure the more likely it needs fault tolerance.

Learn what you can do to eliminate downtime with Application Availability Solutions from Stratus

  1. Understand that the smart building infrastructure is pervasive and expanding– The internet of things is enabling the deployment of cheaper devices to help build smarter buildings. However, all of those devices need some degree of monitoring and visibility. In order to give building managers the insights they need to secure and operate their buildings more effectively.
  2. Get ready for analytics and compliance– A big part of the business case for smart buildings is the fact the new intelligence driven by the data that gets produced by the end point devices (sensors, cameras, badge readers), will help reduce costs and/or make buildings more secure. The application of analytics to these new building services will deliver those efficiencies and improvements provided that the data produced is consistent and available.

The smart buildings of the future are both realistic and beneficial. There are a lot of cost efficiencies to be gained, as well as safer spaces for people to work and visit. However, like many things it needs to start with a reliable technical foundation on which to build upon.

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