Enabling smart property solutions
Traditionally, in the field of building services, operative technology (OT) has been kept completely separate from information technology (IT). This means that the automated operative technology has been independently in charge of the devices in the building on the basis of certain set values. The role of IT has been to maintain the basic and maintenance information concerning the building, while also taking care of the money flow of property maintenance in the form of traditional resource planning. Technology has been utilised in the field of building services for a long time, yet operational models remain fairly unaffected by most new innovations. However, it is certain that we are about to witness changes that will allow the entire field to take a leap forward by combining different capabilities and sources of information.
Digitalisation uses modern means to combine operative and information technology. This integration is often referred to by the general term IoT. Thanks to the integration, information created in the building can be stored in information systems, where it can be combined with other information and analysed. The results of the analysis can be compared to hundreds of similar properties, offering property owners indicators for measuring how well their properties are performing.
With increased transparency, property owners can more easily set targets and monitor the success of the maintenance company. The operation of the maintenance company is also made easier by the fact that information acquired from the properties can be used to automatically detect flaws in equipment, allowing the generation of maintenance requests well before actual property users even have the time to notice that something is wrong. This is what digitalisation means in the property business.
Knowledge-based management to support change
Information can also be used in management. At best, information-based management combines knowledge of history and forecasts of the future. This can also be applied in building services: by combining data, it is possible to prepare for sudden changes, such as fluctuations in the building’s energy requirements. On the other hand, it can also be used for the long-term development of property maintenance to have it better correspond to the property’s actual use and the actual maintenance needs of its equipment.
Information systems also allow for the use of partner networks. Companies sharing maintenance locations can share data in the manner agreed with the customer. This means that it is not necessary for each company to bring their own technology into the building to read its values; moreover, networking makes it possible to create completely new business by, for instance, sharing data with the maintenance company or the insurance company. Partner networks of service providers make it possible to produce services more efficiently, and information systems make it possible to produce services that better suit the needs of the users. Information systems also enable communication between the users of the premises and the service providers.
IoT sensors in buildings and devices and real-time systems for monitoring and analytics provide us with information on what is going on in the properties, how the efficiency values of services are developing and how the automation limiting values should be adjusted. The satisfaction of the users of the premises and the adaptable services they want to have will be at the focus when developing services for smart properties.
Emphasis on information security
Information security is an essential aspect of the integration of OT with IT. Automation systems are originally designed as completely closed systems, so if the information in them is to be used in new smart solutions, or new solutions are allowed to control the well-being and optimal conditions of a property, information security must be taken into account. It’s easy to think that your own property probably is not that interesting, but in fact, all devices that can be hijacked online are interesting, as they can be used in cyber attacks to cause damage to a third party. There is also always the chance of troublemaking, as even unskilled attackers find they can easily carry out a denial-of-service attack on an open automated building system, allowing them to perform tricks like melting the ice in an ice stadium for the fun of it.
Are has a long history and extensive experience in finding the optimal solutions for properties. Now we want to take matters to the next level, utilising the possibilities offered by digitalisation to develop new, smart building services. In addition, Are has plenty of experience in implementing new, innovative solutions with information security in mind. Contact us! We want to work with you to find out what this could mean specifically for you!
The author is Chief Information Officer at Are, who has developed his bike riding into a digitalised indoor cycling experience.