Smarter Buildings, Smarter Society

Everybody wants a little bit of control; especially when it comes to when and how our hard-earned dollars are spent. It’s no different when it comes to our homes and buildings, and the systems that run within these structures. As automotive, utilities, and other industries benefit from the so-called automation revolution, it seems buildings—and to a lesser degree, homes—have not yet made the progress they could as far as getting connected.

According to some estimates nearly three-quarters of electricity in the U.S. is consumed by buildings. Half of that amount is supposedly “wasted.” If buildings were smarter—meaning, if they were equipped with technology for improved monitoring, access, and control—how much energy (and money) could be spared annually?

On the connected-home front, consumers are making strides in adopting smart meters, security systems, HANs (home area networks), and home-automation systems that provide realtime information and control.

A number of municipal governments in states such as New York, Texas, and California, are providing an extra push toward resident adoption, at least in the realm of energy management.

The potential of smart buildings, however, is enormous—at least according to IBM,, and Tridium,, which this week announced a collaboration to develop and promote emerging solutions and technologies for connected buildings.

In a tough economy, the two companies hope to develop systems that will arm managers and tenants with the information they need to make the best decisions possible about their energy use, for example. Smart buildings outfitted with sensors that can monitor motion, temperature, humidity, occupancy, lighting, gas pumps, ovens, and other equipment, will not only help reduce a structure’s carbon footprint, it can give a realtime look at a building and all the systems inside to ensure maximum performance and profitability.

Consider for instance the benefits of a “smart” frozen-yogurt retail store. If a refrigeration unit were to fail outside business hours, systems like the ones planned by IBM and Tridium could detect the problem and dispatch a repair crew before the inventory is ruined.

“Our (goal is) to create smarter buildings … that allow many of the systems that constitute a building—heat, water, sewage, and electricity—to be controlled and automated,” says David Bartlett, IBM’s vice president of industry solutions. “(By working with Tridium) we’ll be able to give clients greater intelligence and control of their buildings and of the physical world.”

To achieve this, IBM and Tridium say they plan to integrate their respective software solutions to create secure, Internet-enabled networks that will allow for new levels of energy management, integrate disparate systems and devices, and analyze vast streams of realtime data.

With realtime information, asset intelligence, and analysis capabilities, smart homes and buildings could lead to a more efficient society—one that harnesses the power of M2M technology.

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Connected World Issue
June/July 2014
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