Building better experiences as IoT advances

How FMs can harness deepening connectivity to drive organizational value
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
By Dr. Himanshu Khurana

Building managers have a significant opportunity to take advantage of IoT-based connectivity to drive organizational value, from improving operations to enhancing occupant experiences. Simply put, advances in technology are changing how people interact with buildings.

When properly implemented, IoT connectivity can be used by organizations to shape how occupants move about a facility and assign precise monetary values to specific spaces. And when that happens, buildings can become smarter, more interactive and contribute strategically to an organization’s bottom line.

Evolution of experience

Smart buildings are nothing new, but as IoT rapidly expands, so do the opportunities to use technology to improve buildings and the experiences of the occupants within, which will either keep occupants coming back or make them seek a better experience elsewhere. The building blocks for achieving these goals comprise an interconnected framework of components, including everything from connected devices, mobile applications (apps) and cloud-based data management, to real-time services and social networking.

The primary pathway to the occupant is the smartphone. When the right building connectivity is in place, and smartphones can tap into a cloud-based IoT platform, occupants can shape and enhance their experiences, creating a direct line of feedback to an organization that can help improve operations.

Integrating digital identification with core building functions can enable occupants to potentially control things such as their comfort, or how they move about a workplace from both an access and wayfinding standpoint. For example, an employee in a connected office space can enter a freezing cold conference room and immediately alert building personnel of the comfort issue, helping to resolve it sooner and prevent it in the future.

The result isn’t just more comfortable and empowered occupants; facility managers also benefit from improved insight to manage their buildings better. With occupants providing real-time evaluations of temperature, cleanliness, and overall space ratings, location-aware apps enable facility managers to aggregate requests quicker and ultimately create a closed loop communication with reviewers. In turn, this can lead to downstream benefits, such as easily managing credentials and keeping facilities secure, as well as improving space utilization, and saving time by quickly fixing comfort problems.

Applications in action

Various industries are taking advantage of IoT connectivity and the ubiquity of smartphones. While goals and needs will differ from organization to organization, one common theme unites them: their use of a cloud-based platform that leverages IoT connectivity and existing building systems to integrate with mobile apps that give people more insight and access to their surroundings.

For example, in the healthcare industry, mobile apps that connect people to their surroundings are providing patients with more control of their comfort, such as window blind positioning. In addition, these types of apps can provide wayfinding, enabling patients and their loved ones to more easily navigate the often-confusing hallways of hospitals, saving everyone’s time in the process.

In Minnesota, a mobile app is helping pedestrians navigate the Minneapolis Skyway System, a complex interlinked network of enclosed pedestrian walkways spanning 80 city blocks. The wayfinding app helps visitors and locals alike navigate the challenging system, allowing them to avoid the drastic hot and cold temperatures of the seasons and easily find their ultimate destination. The app taps IoT connectivity to offer accurate indoor location, mapping, routing, presence, proximity notifications and analytics — all embedded into an integrated platform.

Users benefit from easy-to-use wayfinding, with turn-by-turn voice assistance and location accuracy up to five feet, along with a “share my location” feature that lets users more easily find each other in the skyway system. Businesses located in the skyway system can use the app’s insights into foot traffic patterns to inform measures such as messaging placement to serve their customers better.

Limitless potential

The way people are interacting with their world and each other is changing every day due to the rapidly growing IoT. Occupants ranging from hospital patients to retail shoppers have the potential to shape and improve their experiences thanks to IoT connectivity. Organizations can take advantage of this connectivity in their buildings to build a better overall experience.

Dr. Himanshu Khurana is the director of engineering and global innovation leader for Honeywell Building Solutions where he drives innovation in connected buildings. He obtained his MS and PhD in computer engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. He can be found on LinkedIn.

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