IoT: Smart buildings for smart businesses

Talk to anyone about the future of business and you’ll probably hear opinions on digital transformation, high-speed internet, 5G data connectivity and the integration of AI, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). But how much does everyone understand about these, what they can do and deliver is another story.

Recently, a colleague and I gave a presentation to HNC students at Gloucestershire College and touched on the topic of smart buildings, smart cities and the growing network of connected devices. Discussing this with students makes sense as it is these young people who will be delivering the smart buildings of the future. Universities and colleges have to be at the cutting edge of technology to help drive this.

But it’s hard to stay at that edge… at the forefront of new technology, because it’s evolving so quickly. The speed of the technological evolution continues to get quicker and the ICT industry needs to work together with businesses to bridge the gap between smart buildings and cities and strategic planning on a local or regional authority level. Collaboration is key.

Big data offers incredible insights into how buildings, infrastructure, roads and cities are used, but so much of that data is held within businesses or authorities, isolated in silos. We need to help to break down the walls of these silos, share the knowledge and join it all up. Only when data is shared collaboratively will our cities be truly connected.

You may think this all sounds a long way off, but not only is it getting closer; in many ways, it’s already here. Smart meters are widespread now. At first, in their basic forms, this just meant that the meter reader didn’t have to knock on your door. Now, the smart meters we have in our home use the data from the meter and the cost data from your supplier to tell you, in real time, how much money you’ve spent. That is an insight that everyone understands – an everyday use for connected buildings and collaborative sharing of data.

The construction industry is in need of support too. I’ve heard companies saying they are stifled by ICT infrastructure, unable to connect quickly enough to transfer large packets of data. Sharing files for ever-more complicated building designs has become standard, with multi-dimensional Building Information Models (BIM) for every element of a construction project. Even augmented and virtual reality for project planning is becoming more common so the need for fast connections really is a high priority requirement.

In my first few months at Bamboo, I’ve realised how important getting the infrastructure right for connectivity is. The desire to connect, to collaborate, to share is there. Companies are recognising the need and the benefits, but without the right infrastructure, it’s hard to achieve. Companies like Bamboo are helping businesses connect their operations across sites, secure their connections and realise the potential of the IoT and full-fibre internet.

This is what is needed to connect and it’s available in Gloucestershire now. If our county and our businesses want to be part of the digital transformation revolution, we need to act now.

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