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Smart Buildings: The Implementation Model for Effective Facilities Management

Jared See • 21/11/2018

This is the second in a series of three articles on the subject of “Smart Buildings: A Journey into Artificial Intelligence and Thinking in the Connected & Secure Future”. To make sure you catch the next installment, subscribe to What’s Next today.

Towards Smarter Services & Sustainable Living

The United Nations’ 2017 report stated the world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. The US Energy Information Administration estimated an increase of 56% in energy consumption around the world by 2040. 

In order to meet these requirements many are looking to the power of technology. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasted last year that the digital transformation spending will reach $1.3 trillion in 2018, while Cisco System estimated that the number of Internet-connected things around the world will reach 50 billion by 2020.

Here in Singapore The Business Times recently reported that JTC has rolled out S$15 million in ‘smart’ facilities management solutions across 39 properties. The demand for these smart facilities management (FM) solutions are propelled by growing and ageing portfolios, the need to curb rising operating and energy costs, manpower constraints, and rising expectation of service levels.

The need for effective implementation of smart facilities management solutions are increasingly important in the delivery of an optimized and containerized platform of energy sustainability, operations efficiency, maintenance cost effectiveness, workplace wellness & utilization, workforce productivity, and integrated services. In this article we’ll take a look at how managers can build out a strategic framework for smart FM implementation.

Building Up on A Strategic Framework

For FM to become truly “smart”, managers must focus on the objectives and outcomes that specific solutions are able to meet and accomplish. The process strategically establishes a framework of use cases and operational models that meet desired capabilities. 

The framework defines the operational and technological criteria for assessing smart FM models with regards to beneficial features and best practices. This empowers FM managers to carry out:

  • Readiness evaluation
  • Effective selection of technology solutions
  • Technology adoption through digital transformative approaches
  • implementation methodologies 

Gearing towards the importance of adaptability, the framework needs to encompass scalability and cost-optimization. This means a scalable structure for open protocols, standardized network availabilities, multi-tenancy, as well as the data access platform. Guidelines must also be designed to help building owners and managers manage tech spending while enabling seamlessly digital transformation.

Data sharing is critical in a “smart” environment. An effective framework seeks to find a way to bring all the different standards under one common unified and containerized platform and enables data scaling, security, availability, performance, and persistence. Data intelligence and analytics become the driving force for the value differentiators of facilities management services, delivering actionable, predictive insights and decision-making to key stakeholders.

In view of easily available data and increased connectivity of the digital mesh, the governance of cyber security and data protection must continue to evolve alongside smart FM technology implementation. estimated that in the US alone the reported damage caused by cybercrime amounted to USD$1.4 billion in 2017.

The Blank Piece Factor

While the US is focused on retrofitting existing buildings with new technology, China’s strategy is on constructing new buildings entirely, within which they can incorporate the latest technologies and innovative solutions. A “blank sheet” approach carries huge potential for the assimilation of next-gen digitalization. But, without precedence of strategic assessment and effective guiding principles, the adoption of the latest innovative technology could be seen as sacrificing overall ROI for the sake of flashy digitalization.

The China Daily reported that China has already set a goal of 30% green buildings for new construction in 2020, together with big US firms developing new markets and segments there. This presents a remarkable opportunity for adjacent FM solution providers to consolidate into a common delivery platform. The industries of security, life-saving products, energy efficient solutions, and storage are converging respective services and products into a unified smart FM solution.

As the demands for business diversity and operations’ experience evolve, new cutting-edge innovation (AI-based IoT sensors, Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR & VR), Near-field Communication (NFC), Big Data, Edge Computing & Analytics) are rapidly expanding into the world of FM.

The wave of 5G deployment will likely be coming in 2019 and 2020, heralding a revolutionary network of faster connectivity, wider coverage, and responsiveness. The “millimeter wave” is expected to stabilize and gradually impact innovation patterns across buildings.

In addition to disrupting the conventionally operational model of building, the ever-growing tech tsunami will continue accelerating the pace of digitalization for FM.

Key Outcomes

The quest for operations efficiency, energy optimization, and occupancy wellness is every smart building’s raison d’etre. The execution of a strategic framework can help achieve these objectives as part of the smart FM journey. Furthermore, increasing levels of partnership within the world of FM solutions is further driving up the overall effectiveness of portfolio maintenance and sustainability.

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