Making the most of AI in smart buildings

Making the most of AI in smart buildings

by Jamie Cameron, Director of Digital Solutions, Johnson Controls UK&I

AI is one of the most critical pieces of the smart building puzzle. Without it, a building can barely be described as smart – it enables so much of what building owners and managers rely on to create the safest and most comfortable experiences for their occupants every day.  

A building platform should, first and foremost, gather data from the building management system and other smart technologies, to gather data from disparate sources. Then, it should feed this data into a flexible, scalable cloud-based platform that stores it securely and standardises the data. But that still does not make a smart building. 

Using a platform with built-in AI is where the real innovation happens. These technologies enable integration and enhanced intelligence across a building or estate – improving building operation for its occupants, from modelling building and equipment performance to factoring building system data and external input like weather or traffic. In turn, this allows for machine learning to continuously optimise spaces within a building to reduce energy spend and waste.

For example, energy efficiency savings can be made from automatically reducing the use of electricity in low-footfall areas, by monitoring sensors around a building and making real-time decisions based on the insights. This means that occupants are always comfortable, but the building isn’t wasting precious resources, helping its bottom line and the planet.  

Making AI work for you 

When it comes to smart building technologies, the most important aspect is that the technologies work exactly how they need to. This is why AI is such a useful tool – every building manager, operations executive, or health and safety officer can plug into the platform and make decisions based on real-time data. This comes from creating a scalable platform in the cloud, helping monitor and action everything from HVAC to access control to occupant experience to fire detection. 

But it’s not just those responsible for the building’s operations who can get hands on with AI. Many smart buildings now put their technology in the hands of each occupant, be that an office worker, teacher, CEO, or nurse. Smartphone apps, unique to your building or estate, can help guide visitors from A to B, book meeting rooms or operating suites, or inform maintenance when something goes wrong – all from the palm of their hand.

The end goal 

Implementing the right AI technologies in the right ways can transform how building management businesses operate, aligning them more to a tenant organisation’s business, delivering the experiences occupants need and want, and supporting their own business financially and operationally.  

Not only this, making buildings smarter – or smart to begin with – will help overcome some of our toughest challenges, especially the aggressive net-zero and sustainability targets businesses now face. Building platforms that use AI to action data from across a building or estate, will ensure we see real change happen.

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