Smart building sector to boom with AI and deep learning

posted on Friday, 6th December 2019 by Steve May

Smart Building  Smart Cities  Home automation 


Machine learning and artificial intelligence are poised to revolutionise the smart building sector, on the back of 5G and advanced communications technologies, suggests a new market report by Futuresource.

Using sophisticated analysis and pattern matching, to predict and pre-empt situations smarter buildings will in turn pave the way for smarter cities.

“The primary focus for smart cities is on energy and the environment, with secondary targets to enhance security and the wellbeing of citizens,” explains Simon Forrest, Principal Technology Analyst at Futuresource Consulting, citing the reduction of congestion across the road network as an example of a smart city in action.

“By aggregating live data from a range of sources, including vehicles themselves, local authorities will be able to divert traffic into and around cities more intelligently, with AI that formulates dynamic strategies to ease traffic flow. Imagine traffic lights that, instead of displaying the familiar green signal, show a dynamic arrow indicating which way drivers must turn in order to balance the traffic load across the road network.”


However for this vision of a larger sustainable smart city, the majority of building stock must be fitted with smart technology as well. Futuresource suggests this is relatively straightforward for commercial and retail new builds, but smart building retrofits will be a challenge, not only when it comes to technologically but also educating companies about the wider benefits.

A reduction in energy expenditure has tangible and immediate benefits for building owners, yet the advantages of smart building technologies, including heat pumps and eco-centric innovations, extend much further. “If energy suppliers were able to reduce electricity consumption across populations of smart buildings by a small amount, perhaps through temporary changes in HVAC cycles or by dimming communal area lighting slightly, then they may avoid the costs and environmental impacts of bringing another power station online during periods of high demand,” suggests Forrest.

“Businesses are becoming switched on to the advantages of smart buildings, but there is still some way to go. We expect to see new government initiatives emerge, designed to encourage upgrades to existing building stock. It is only through the proliferation of smart buildings that the broader smart city initiatives can be fully realised.”

Automated buildings are nothing new, says Forrest. “The first computer dedicated to monitoring building systems was installed in the mid-1970s. A lot has changed since then, but there’s still plenty of ground to cover. The development of smart buildings and smart home technology must progress beyond the simple control of utilities and services. Once you achieve a building that has the majority of its products and services interconnected, that’s when the underlying technology can be fully utilised, and automation gives way to systems with more intelligence.”

With smartness, buildings move from being ‘passive’ to ‘active’ with predictive analytics, ultimately leading to the creation of ambient intelligent spaces.

“Building automation systems can manage and arrange services for the benefit of the owner and the wider environment. What’s more, control interfaces can be designed to become less intrusive, with technology blending into the background.”

"Rise of smart buildings could reduce carbon emissions by 1.98 gigatons of equivalent carbon dioxide, with energy savings of around US$236 billion annually..."

The seeds of smart building control began to germinate from the mid-1990s, with laptops moving mainstream, the rise of the mobile phone and proliferation of the world wide web laying the foundations. From 2006, the introduction of smartphones and connected devices enabled the development of apps, services and cloud computing, while enhancements in broadband communications gave companies the opportunity to have employees work remotely. Since 2016, smart spaces have become a trend, with companies increasingly understanding the concept and investing in automated systems to improve utilisation, reduce operating costs and create healthier, more productive environments for employees.

The rise of smart buildings could reduce carbon emissions by 1.98 gigatons of equivalent carbon dioxide, with energy savings of around US$236 billion annually, says the analyst.

Industry consensus suggests that currently between 30 percent and 50 percent of energy currently supplied to commercial buildings is wasted. “This is the obvious problem currently being solved with smart building automation systems, because the return on investment is immediately tangible.” says Forrest. “However, when you factor in the physiological benefits of smart buildings, that’s when the landscape really gets interesting.”

A move from a wired infrastructure to wireless alternatives are enabling more effective retrofits.

“Once scale is achieved, advanced services can be introduced,” says Forrest. “For example, an electricity supplier could dim lights by a small amount on a case-by-case basis. This would be imperceptible to users, but would offer a saving on energy bills, while simultaneously reducing electricity consumption across a region, perhaps negating the need for an additional power station to be brought online. Without smart buildings, smart cities and the resultant sustainable environmental initiatives cannot exist.”

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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