Connected buildings are already here, but how can we all benefit?
We have embraced connectivity in so many aspects of our lives and benefit every day as a result. Here’s why we need to do the same in our buildings at work.
Take a second to think of something that you do regularly now, that would have seemed impossible or unlikely before. Think about ordering things online to be delivered to your home in two hours or streaming unlimited music to your phone. Reflect on the ease of having your entire document library stored in the cloud and shared with all of your devices. Our home and work lives have changed dramatically as things have become more connected. We still haven’t fully embraced the connectivity in buildings that will improve the lives of those who work in or manage buildings, as well as those who keep them running.
Connecting building systems is not a new concept, it’s something Siemens and other industry players have been doing for 20 years in varying capacities. The general concept is that we create a secure link, between our buildings and the expert engineering teams that support them, through the internet.
Connectivity like this enables us to really improve the way building operators access support; when there is a fault with the building systems there will no need to wait for an engineer to travel to site, or for someone to spend time on the phone to an engineer trying to explain a problem they are not familiar with. Just think back to the time you had to speak in-length to a call centre trying troubleshoot a problem with something in your home – let’s not repeat this at work.
With a remote connection, an authorised engineer can securely access the building systems, see the same information and work in the same way, as if they were sat on site. Common fault finding and troubleshooting steps can be carried out remotely, and minor faults fixed immediately, reducing wasted hours and miles on the road. Some faults will need the right parts, tools and sometimes specific skills to fix; making a fault diagnosis remotely means the engineer sent to site can fix the problem the first time.
Connectivity closes the distance between the source of a fault and the skills needed to fix it.
In the same way that commercial air travel brought the world closer together, a remote connection can put a virtual Siemens engineer on site in minutes instead of hours. This is very noticeable when there’s a problem with the heating in the middle of winter, or in critical environments where faults can cost businesses thousands of pounds per hour.
Making the most of building data
Buildings are constantly producing data, which is often wasted or under-utilised. When we can collect and intelligently use this data, whole new digital services become possible. This can mean enhancing current operations by identifying system faults and fixing them before they become a problem for people in the building, ensuring safety and business continuity.
Connectivity can also give building mangers access to Siemens data-driven services, enabling things like optimisation of buildings for energy efficiency or to improve the life of expensive equipment. This ultimately reduces business costs and improves sustainability and environmental impact. Using this data, Siemens can even predict when maintenance is needed or failure is likely and intercept it early, keeping everyone happy.
Buildings are talking, but do we listen?
Services are also becoming more focused around improving employee or building occupant experience – allowing personalisation of environments to aid wellbeing and productivity, indoor location based services such as wayfinding and asset tracking to save people time, or room and space booking to reduce friction in the office environment. A remote connection is the first step to enabling these services.
The obvious and correct question to ask is ‘what about security’. We have seen the impact of poorly considered cyber security across all industries in recent years. This is something that Siemens takes very seriously and handles proactively.
Whilst the connection appears to the engineer and customer as a simple link, the encrypted connection is achieved using a Siemens-managed infrastructure, which has been proven thorough thousands of connections globally. All users are trained in cyber-security and data protection before access is provided. Two-factor authentication is used to log in to the connection portal and requires an active Siemens ID card, meaning employees leaving Siemens lose access immediately.
Connectivity done in the right way has the potential to improve security and safety for people and assets.
Let’s get connected!
In a few years we will all look back and wonder how we ever worked without connected buildings. We will be used to things ‘just working’ or being fixed swiftly without having to manually report problems. Building operators will be able to focus on proactive tasks rather than having to react to problems. Engineers will struggle to imagine travelling hours in a day to support customers. Let’s close the gap and have these realisations this year instead!
Find out more at siemens.co.uk/perfectplaces