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During the course of my 10-day vacation, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to switch off the bedroom lights before I left home. This realisation kept gnawing me throughout my vacation. I really wish there was some system which could automatically detect my presence or absence and control the lights and other electrical equipment at home accordingly. The capability to intelligently detect and respond to the surroundings is one of the key promises that smart buildings can offer you.
Smart buildings are those where information technology is used to integrate all aspects of the building, like lighting, comfort and security, and provide an enhanced living experience for the occupants. Smart buildings are an inevitable component of smart cities as they a go a long way in improving the quality of life of the citizens, which, in turn, is the crux of smart city creation. Read on to understand more about smart buildings and their relevance in the context of proposed smart cities in India.Following are some interesting facts and figures about buildings:
Why is it necessary to make buildings smart?
Buildings are complex entities with multiple interconnected systems such as control and maintenance systems, heating, lighting and cooling systems, and security systems. These systems need to communicate and coordinate with one another for the buildings to work efficiently. In most of the traditional buildings, these systems exist in silos, leading to lot of energy wastage. It is possible to convert these buildings into smart and energy efficient buildings by infusing sensors, actuators and CCTVs that sense and respond intelligently to the needs of the building occupants. Smart buildings have been found to help save up to 30 percent of water usage, 40 percent of energy usage and thereby help reduce building maintenance costs by 10 to 30 percent. The Smart Building Management Systems market is around $621 million and is expected to reach $1,891 million by 2016. Hence the adoption of smart building concept by the various smart city projects in India will help boost the economy of India.
Now, let us look at the various systems present in smart buildings:
These are only some basic elements of smart buildings. Nowadays, many of the features required by buildings are provided by an integrated software called Building Management System (BMS), instead of disparate systems that communicate with one another using diverse protocols. However, the technology which forms the foundation of present-day smart buildings is Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is a technology that is used to interconnect embedded objects / devices such as sensors, mobile devices and so on and facilitate communication among them without the need for any human intervention.
The increased proliferation of smart phones , rapid advances in IoT technology and emergence of 6LowPAN (a standard for low power wireless networks) will enable networks of sensors and actuators natively to use Internet Protocol V6 and allow smart buildings to rapidly go to the next level of automation. In the next level of smart buildings, following could be some of the interesting features:
Smart buildings have already seen some level of traction in a few Indian cities. In order to ensure the success of the smart building concept in India, it is important to ensure that the government supports smart building initiatives by providing tax subsidy. It will, in turn, reduce the total cost of ownership of smart buildings, making it a lucrative option for the common man. The government should also provide special funding schemes to attract a lot of public-private partnerships for smart building projects.
The role played by buildings in the everyday lives of people is getting redefined. They are no longer mere physical structures but are slowly starting to define the quality of life of the citizens and the entire city. Given the anticipated rise in urbanisation in the coming decades, cities are expected to transform to a place where many different people and companies collectively work to make our lives better and more sustainable. The shift to smart buildings has only just begun, and will now accelerate very quickly if we make the citizens aware of the benefits of smart buildings and also make it a cost effective option for them.
Anupama Raman is the curriculum architect and lead – Smarter Cities, Smarter Commerce and Curam Client Success Education and Enablement team