Building intelligence into buildings

Anil Bhasin, Vice President, Enterprise, Cisco India & SAARC

It has been widely acknowledged that India is in need of world-class infrastructure to provide the foundation for faster and sustained economic growth. The urgency to focus on infrastructure, stems not only from the need to better service the existing industries, but also from the rapidly growing needs of the 'sunrise sectors' and the need to attract foreign investments to sustain the growth. Riding high on a strong economy and relaxed investment norms, the Indian infrastructure and real estate sector is witnessing an unprecedented boom largely fuelled by the growth of the IT-ITES industry. According to a recent market study, real estate in India is expected to rise from $14 billion to $102 billion in the next 10 years. To make most of the available opportunity and cater to changing needs, developers have to gear up to provide more efficient and high-class developments.

Technology has touched every aspect of our daily lives. Then why not include the buildings where we work or live or entertain ourselves? After all, infrastructure is one of the cornerstones of a booming economy. There is a strong need for new-age intelligent infrastructure which in effect are physical spaces of the future, built through technology innovation and delivering value-added, revenue generating services while streamlining the processes that create buildings and developments. Imagine next generation buildings that can meet the changing lifestyle needs of occupants, provide environmental benefits, impact sustainability for owners and operators and also help real estate professionals achieve their business goals.

Global trends driving technology innovation in real estate

In the 21st century, digital technology accelerates our ability to increase real estate values. Technology is changing how we design and construct buildings and the building fabrics themselves -both how we operate and maintain them as well as how their occupants experience and use them.

In addition, there are some other global trends that Indian real estate experts need to examine and engage with. Government, companies, and consumers today are more aware of and taking action on areas like:

  • Energy and climate change
  • Air and water pollution
  • Resource depletion
  • Human health and safety issues
  • Waste disposal
  • Biodiversity

In fact according to some sources (BOMA 2006, EIA 2006, AIA 2006), buildings consume 50 percent of the world's energy and the energy consumption of IT equipment in buildings is increasing significantly. Of the concerns mentioned, environmental sustainability has proven to be a major global trend for the 21st century. Corporations across the world are adopting standards and implementing initiatives to improve the environmental performance of their operations.
In fact, major corporations are aligning global business strategies to address these trends through:

  • Green building standards
  • Environmental management systems
  • Citizenship, corporate responsibility and reporting
  • Environmental initiatives

Harnessing technology
The real estate, design, and construction industry have been exploring the concept of an intelligent building since the 1970s, when computer driven technologies influenced office and building automation and were incorporated into the physical fabric of buildings. An intelligent building is one in which the building fabric, space, services, and information systems can respond in an efficient manner to the initial and changing demands of the owner, the occupier, and the environment. Vendors today are focusing on delivering intelligence driven infrastructure to businesses using the "Network as the Platform". This is aimed at facilitating the transformation of the real estate industry.

Connected Real Estate is a solution framework that creates value and opportunities for building owners, occupiers and developers. The framework transforms how we build, operate, and use all types of real estate, be it a corporate campus, manufacturing facility, retail complex, university or hospital building. Here you will see how one can transform their business by laying down IP as the platform and deliver intelligent converged environments over this network. These intelligent converged environments are achieved by converging information, communication and building technologies. Firstly, there is optimum space utilization, thus, improving the use of physical assets. Second, it offers enhanced experiences to attract new users and outstanding workers with new, efficient building environments. Third, it presents new revenue opportunities through new services that drive new, profitable business models and opportunities for growth.

Unlocking the power of the Network

  • Once you have empowered your building with a secure, scalable, and flexible utility, or the building information network -you also have "web-enabled" your facility. It is not for nothing that worldwide a "web address" is deemed as important as "physical address."
  • Over the Internet and IP network, you now can manage and monitor all the devices and applications that you will converge over this one network. Having the ability to remote access the communication, security, and building automation in your building, enables you to manage your property from a remote location.
  • Connecting multiple buildings over the same framework, you can achieve great savings by centralizing the building management and operations of your portfolio-or use the same concept to outsource your building management to a third party who specializes in hosted managed services.
  • Reduction of OPEX is apparent in the opportune headcount optimization but also when resources (such as energy management or customer or tenant services) are shared among a larger portfolio of assets.

By converging disparate systems over a single building information network, the Connected Real Estate solution offers stakeholders proven benefits that will help transform their organization, improve business processes, provide environmental benefits, impact sustainability for owners/operators, reduce costs, complexity, and enhance real estate value. The benefits of a networked building approach starts during the design and construction process and this helps in reducing the complexities and cost of installing multiple cabling systems. Be it a commercial building or residential development, it can uniquely realize the benefits of convergence over the Connected Real Estate framework, which provides the tools and a roadmap for future success.


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