Capital Tower, in Singapore, is one of the buildings vying for the honor of the "oldest smart building in the world". While building management systems had long been helping us run our buildings, when the Captial Tower was built in 2000, the 52-story structure was celebrated for its energy efficiency, real-time car park status, and news bulletins in the elevator, features that wouldn’t make the news today.
The property industry continues to raise the bar on what justifies the title “Smart Building” — yesterday it was just being energy-efficient, tomorrow it’s all about being occupant-centric.
“While the first major wave of smart building technology investment was driven by sustainability and energy efficiency goals, the second wave of smarter buildings is being fueled by a greater involvement of stakeholders who were previously not part of the decision-making and the need to provide a better experience to the building occupants,” states our new report: Occupancy Analytics & In-Building Location Based Services.
One of the most significant trends the report identified was an increasing focus on occupant centric workplaces, as businesses look for new ways to attract and motivate workers. Memoori’s research and analysis shows a market that grew by 30% in two years, 2017-19, and continues to present the kind of growth trajectory that underlines the occupant-centric trend reshaping the sector.
“The Occupancy Analytics market in commercial office space was worth $2.17 Billion in system sales in 2019, projected to rise to $5.73 Billion by 2024” states the report. “We expect this new space for Occupancy Analytics and Indoor Location Services to become a critical element of IoT driven solutions in Smart Buildings that will drive efficiency and transformation in the workplace.”
Occupancy analytics and LBS, within the context of commercial office space, is electronic hardware and software used in workplace management and indoor location-based services to enable spatial efficiency, people finding, asset tracking, and a number of other location-based applications. As office densification rates increase in cities around the world, space utilization has struggled to keep up and productivity has suffered as a result.
Occupancy analytics is about providing better insight to take control of our modern, increasingly crowded and dynamic, offices.
“Although challenging to quantify, the impact of employee surroundings on business performance is receiving increased attention. Studies have begun to demonstrate a tangible and measurable link between employee satisfaction and comfort in their working environment and their overall productivity,” explains the report, which provides details of the research and deployments in recent years. “The heightened focus on user-centric buildings has meant we are reaching a tipping point in the evolution of the workplace.”
Proving the benefits of the new approach has been a challenge for the sector but the tools required to enable occupant-centric buildings also had a lot to learn in the process. While striving for credibility, tools required to effectively manage and optimize office space utilization, for example, have shown densities of up to 80-90%, as well up to 30% less wasted space, as discussed in detailed case studies within the new report.
“Navigating through the wealth of use cases in the smart building landscape is not easy. Although technology is evolving rapidly and offers a vast number of smart building solutions, there is no one path on how to transform an office into a more human-focused building. There is no predefined sequence of measures to be taken,” the report warns. “The only right way is an individually customized approach, following a process of evaluation and prioritizing one's own use cases,” the report, which explores 39 use cases, continues.
The building industry has come a long way since the construction of Capital Tower in Singapore, two decades ago. We are learning to not just fill buildings with technology; but actually fish for intelligence in the data lakes we are creating. Today, a more mature building industry is able to look inside and focus on what really matters — the occupants.