To paraphrase a well-known saying, the journey to a complete smart city begins with a single building. No matter the size of the city, the extent of the technology or the most helpful use cases, a prospective smart city can integrate into — or branch off of — initiatives pushed forward by a smart building or campus. And when there is an increasing demand for these types of solutions, large corporations have the opportunity to improve corporate and social governance practices, as well as stand out in their community by championing more connected technologies.
Smart buildings have been utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect and advance systems, delivering more efficiency and data. These connected systems could include IP video camera systems, access control systems, smart meters, smart parking and/or any networked devices or IoT sensors, to name a few.
By bringing these systems together, administrators can more easily make connections between previously separate bases of data, such as pairing video footage with access management anomalies, using video for people tracking to make sure a building’s HVAC adjusts the temperature properly or observing the busiest times of an on-site parking facility.
The devices that are incorporated into a smart building can provide different value depending on the way in which they are being utilized. For instance, an external IP camera can be correlated to other security data within a single building or campus for the improved safety of its employees or patrons. That same camera in a smart neighborhood setting could allow a local store manager to track a shoplifter. Within a smart city ecosystem, video could be used by a municipality to track and manage a parade that goes through the neighborhood. A municipality can then find enough value in this information that it behooves them to assist with the maintenance cost of the system. As a smart network grows throughout a city environment, the benefits both expand and change.
Interconnected IoT devices have a wide base of potential value for an organization, as that is the point where they can be applied most freely: a single device could be correlated against many other internal systems or bases of information without compromising its secure access. This information can then be used for better safety and security on a corporate campus or better employee tracking between facilities, asset management or other elements of business efficiency. As broad as these benefits are, they directly impact the business implementing the smart building.
For a smart neighborhood, the benefits are more widespread — positively affecting more businesses but having a less direct impact on any one organization. When there is an array of technology that overlooks a street or district, it can provide a lot of specific information about the nature of how and when people move through it. This type of installation can provide more safety and security information on factors that affect the whole area, such as a car accident along the main street.
A smart city benefits both its leadership and its citizens. Using connected devices, cities can figure out how to become smarter, safer and more efficient. Data can lead to innovations in street planning and parking or provide valuable insights during crisis investigations. Furthermore, devices are flexible in addressing different use cases — systems can be optimized and customized depending on the unique needs of a local government.
The Domino Effect
Smart buildings can create a domino effect, leading to more opportunities for integrated advancements. A single building that incorporates smart solutions becomes a smart building. When that building integrates certain specially designated security devices with other nearby facilities, you have a smart block. When more blocks join this effort, expanding the reach of these interconnected solutions and the overall awareness of all parties involved, then you have a smart neighborhood that is working together, jointly utilizing smart assets. From there, one smart neighborhood can expand, or disparate networked buildings can unite. Over time, this area of smart protection and shared information can blanket an entire city.
The trick to any domino effect is that the first piece needs to be pushed into action, and there are many benefits that urban-based corporations stand to gain by leading the charge. Beginning or continuing to champion a better, smarter and safer home city is an excellent way for businesses to connect with their communities — on both a personal and technological level. Many corporations have wide impacts on the cities they reside in, and it benefits everyone to have a positive presence in their neighborhood, one that shows care and concern for the people and businesses in the surrounding areas. Greater technological integration and increasing public-facing devices and sensors also improve a corporation’s security posture.
In today’s era of fast-moving tech, when not keeping up spells the end for less agile businesses, companies should want to be seen as innovators and early adopters of new technologies. Adopting more connected technologies, and using that information for better and faster business processes, is one step that shows commitment to keeping up with the pace of technology. There is another plus to creating a smart building or smart campus: the return on investment. Connected technologies, above and beyond their applications for improved safety and security, also provide valuable business insights that can help a company run more smoothly or better understand its patrons.
The purpose behind connecting different systems is to be able to correlate and aggregate more data and pare that pool of information down to the most relevant points for an individual or business. The above points have covered some of the systems that can be included in a smart building or smart city atmosphere and the benefits of doing so, but that collected data needs to be appropriately handled. Data should be accessible for certain functions and analytics; however, the privacy of certain sets of data also needs to be respected and restricted to certain designated users.
To make sure that data neither degrades nor is accessible to any unauthorized party, the data storage needs to be resilient and secure. In addition, smart buildings and smart cities should always be poised to expand, making scalability another paramount concern for the storage infrastructure.
Smart initiatives — whether for one building, a neighborhood or an entire city — need to carefully consider the devices that are being installed and integrated, both in terms of cybersecurity and interoperability. Cameras and sensors should themselves be cyber secure while also integrating with the key pieces of technology infrastructure that will allow them to provide the most value without compromising the integrity of the network.
It’s clear that the further implementation and utilization of connected technologies is the wave of the future, but who is going to be out ahead of it? For large enterprises, especially those with technological roots, there is more opportunity beyond the tangible advantages. Companies that understand and can implement smart building measures in their home cities have the chance to showcase the best practices for consciously implementing new technologies and working to see these benefits brought to surrounding areas.
There are many ways that a company can stand out, whether by the power of their brand or through the collaborative efforts they embark upon. Working to make cities smart, more advanced and ultimately safer is the type of initiative that will benefit — and be appreciated by — a wide range of local business owners and residents.