The buildings of the future may think for themselves — here’s how they work

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Traditionally, conversations about infrastructure have focused on improving roads and bridges. But now infrastructure comes in many forms — physical and virtual. It’s made of more than just concrete and steel; it’s also about power grids, telecommunications, smart factories, and Internet-of-Things-enabled buildings.

What all of this really means is that the next generation of automation is here. From assembly-line robotics to driverless cars, it’s transforming the modern business agenda, lifestyle, and infrastructure of our society. And part of this idea of smart infrastructure is also about connected buildings that leverage big data for predictive capabilities and energy efficiency.

How buildings are getting smarter

Siemens is at the forefront of this digital transformation of buildings for customers in the US. Its automation expertise and technology portfolio connects various building systems to an integrated building management system (IBMS), monitoring and controlling things such as lighting, heating, fire safety, and security.

The IBMS is effectively the “brain” of the building. Using a cloud-based platform, it collects significant amounts of data about the building, and combines it with more data about occupant behavior to increase productivity and efficiency, and also reduce downtime and labor costs.

Siemens has also developed an Intelligent Infrastructure Solutions concept, or “I2S”, which is a customer-centric approach built around three core components: IBMS (“the brain”), Advanced Analytics (with the Navigator platform), and Digital Services.

Advanced Analytics monitors energy consumption, system performance, energy supply, and many other components that go into optimizing building performance.

Digital Services is where highly skilled building experts at Siemens work with customers to determine and apply the right combination of solutions, services and data to meet their needs.

One example of I2S in progress is Sterling Ranch, CO, where Siemens is the technology partner for the 3,400-acre sustainable, mixed-use, master-planned community. There, Siemens is combining a comprehensive command control and communication solution for physical infrastructure, with data-driven intelligence and advanced facility-related analytics, plus regular service of all components.

Sterling Ranch shows how planning infrastructure today for deployment tomorrow not only future-proofs development, but can also anticipate people’s needs and enhance their lifestyle.

Autonomous technology in action

While building technologies have been around for some time, they’re now being used successfully in different ways. Today, they can offer a glimpse look into the future, as they allow us to predict maintenance requirements. Building operators can also be in two places at once, by remotely accessing systems in real time.

San Bernardino County in California found this solution from Siemens to be a huge benefit, since its real-estate portfolio is so widespread it covers more than 20,000 square miles. In the first three years alone, it saved $405,800 in reduced travel and overtime costs, plus operational efficiency.

Not needing to be on-site, in terms of either time or place, is the main idea behind the ultimate tech-trend endgame: autonomous buildings.

The next shift will move building owners and managers away from reactive and preventative behavior and more toward a predictive and proactive mindset. Advanced analytics, for example, will be able to anticipate and set optimal temperature points, based on calendar and weather data. Eventually, the building may know what you need before you want it, helping to save money and fight climate change — all on its own.

The idea of autonomous buildings once seemed so far away. But with each technological advancement, it’s becoming closer to reality.

Click here to learn more about how digitalization is driving the future of buildings and helping Siemens create perfect places for customers.

This post is sponsored by Siemens.

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