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Technology providers are yet to offer a single, tailored system that combines building automation, management, and integration functions. That’s according to William Ruh, Digital CEO of Australia-headquartered, international property and infrastructure group, LendLease. Ruh spoke during the IoT Impact conference in Sydney recently, laying out the company’s vision for a ‘smart building ecosystem’ that would increase the number of live data points in buildings tenfold.

In Barangaroo, Sydney, the company is engaged in a building development that already generates over 1 million live data points from a variety of connected systems that includes lighting, access control, and metering systems, among other things. They are still lacking a single, customized ecosystem that can serve the primary needs of the building. “People come in and say ‘I have one of those’. But it’s a general-purpose thing that doesn’t actually do what we want, and it costs a lot to make changes,” Ruh said.

Relevant buildings related data typically resides in many different places, often including various legacy systems under the control of different business departments. As such, the data can get trapped in silos, making it a challenge to extract and integrate into analytics platforms. This is one of the key problems facing the future development of smart buildings, according to our latest report — Future Proofing Smart Commercial Buildings: Adding Value And Avoiding Obsolescence.

“To maximize the power of data analytics, project leaders need to find ways to break down these data silos and move data more efficiently across systems onto centralized analytics platforms. As the number of different systems gathering ever more data points grows, there is a definitive risk that challenges around data isolated in systems and functional silos will grow,” explains our comprehensive report addressing the complexity of building data and other future proofing issues in this age of rapid technological development.

Lendlease wants to evolve, keen to raise the level of digital infrastructure in its properties through energy, water and waste sensors, smart surveillance and lighting, and parking/charging systems, as well as better in-building mobile coverage. They prioritize the digital experience, through service and information capabilities such as digital wayfinding, tenant community platforms, building apps, public WiFi, and even “immersive digital lobby experiences,” according to Ruh.

Lendlease also wants more cloud-first, mobile-first smart building technologies, but that’s not what they are being offered says Ruh, who concludes that these goals seem “pretty far away”. Lendlease state that they are still deciding whether to continue searching for this kind of ecosystem or build one themselves, with help from partners. The 61-year-old company is not the only organization that feel they are being held back by the lack of progressive business models to help us move beyond this primitive crusade for greater and greater efficiency.

“The fact is, IoT is just built-in almost everything we buy. And so every major system we buy – the water systems, the HVAC systems, the lighting systems – they all come with what one could view as basic IoT capability and basic applications,” said Ruh. “People are using it, they can get enough out of what they’ve got, to do good hygiene. But there’s no business model behind it, other than we run things a lot more efficiently than ever before. We use less people to operate it. We address challenges and problems earlier than we ever have. But this is sort of the hygiene department.”

The lack of effective business models affects the future of the IoT in smart buildings, according to Ruh, but we are starting to see change. “Investment in this area is going up dramatically. And it’s really going up dramatically because I think that we’re starting to see business models appear where people can start to think differently about what a building is… that to me is really the tipping point of whether IoT is going to matter in our industry or not.”

Drawing on over a decade of experience in tracking the various technology and market innovations that have brought us to this point in the lifecycle of smart building technologies, Memoori sees the IoT itself as a key driving force behind the necessary change. In our Future Proofing Smart Commercial Buildings report, we unravel the past and current trends to explore how the buildings market can prepare for what is likely to come. In the IoT, we find a disruptive force that promises to drive better integration, new business models, and an expanding range of applications to improve the building.

“The IoT has had transformative effects on smart building automation and control in recent years, disrupting long-established business models and offering significant new opportunities to improve the efficiency of buildings, raise employee productivity, as well as helping to stimulate the development of innovative new service offerings,” the report states.

“As more and more building systems controlling various elements of a buildings function, (e.g. HVAC, fire, safety, access control and so on), are interconnected by the BIoT, more sophisticated solutions can emerge that combine the data from these previously disparate systems to provide more complex functionality,” it continues, revealing the challenges and opportunities the future holds for our emerging industry.