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IoT to make buildings and cities ‘smarter’ – Part 2

IoT to make buildings and cities ‘smarter’ – Part 2

Posted by Zenobia HegdeDecember 22, 2015

Sensors everywhere

There is a growing market for advanced occupancy sensors, carbon dioxide sensors, thermostats and photo sensors which can gather data about movement, heat, light and use of space to adapt to changing building conditions and make real-time alterations to a building’s environment.

This helps to reduce energy use and improve air quality. Navigant Research, a US-based market research and consulting firm, forecasts that global shipments of advanced sensors will grow from 1.8 million units annually in 2013 to 28.4 million units in 2020. IEC TC 47: Semiconductor devices, and its SCs develop International Standards for sensors and other systems.

Internet of Things to play central role

The technology which forms the foundation of today’s smart buildings is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a global network used to interconnect embedded objects or devices such as sensors and mobile devices which are able to communicate and to generate and share data with one another.

In smart commercial buildings, the IoT will enhance the capability of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) to optimise energy use. In addition, Building Management Systems (BMS) involve the convergence of traditional and new hardware, software and services to improve the control and automation of building systems and manual procedures.

The connectivity provided by the IoT and the ability to integrate disparate automated systems and intelligent devices for data acquisition and analytics enable BMS managers to know and anticipate the needs of an interconnected building’s occupants and share this data through internet connectivity. Data could include preferences for lighting, heating and ventilation, as well as other services such as security systems, lifts and escalators, utility meters and water and waste management. This provides commercial as well as environmental benefits in the form of improved operational efficiency, energy savings through targeted supply and faster responsiveness to changing conditions.

By 2020, there will be tens of billions of networked appliances and sensors worldwide. More than eight million BMS will be integrated with some form of IoT platform, application or service by 2020, making them part of a wider and integrated sensing and control network, according to a June 2015 report by ABI Research, an international technology intelligence company.

IEC groundwork to drive smart buildings and smart cities growth

In addition to the creation of SEG 1 on Smart Cities, which is to release its final report soon, the IEC MSB (Market Strategy Board) has published a White Paper entitled “Internet of Things: Wireless Sensor Networks“, which surveys the role of wireless sensor networks in the evolution of the IoT. It also assesses the need for standards to achieve interoperability among wireless sensor networks from different vendors and across varied applications, in order to unleash the full potential of the IoT.

The IEC MSB project team on Smart Cities has also led to the development of another White Paper, entitled “Orchestrating infrastructure for sustainable Smart Cities“, which explains what is needed for the development of Smart Cities.

The growing amount and variety of data generated by interconnected devices from various departments in smart buildings can provide added value in terms of better building performance, energy efficiency, space utilisation and predictive maintenance costs.

“Flexible, secure and cost-effective cloud-based applications that can convert the vast volume of data generated by smart buildings into a decision-making platform” will help to expand the market for the IoT, according to a June 2015 report by the Frost & Sullivan research firm.

Janice Wung, Industry Analyst for Energy and Environment, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, told the IEC publication e-tech that the future evolution of smart buildings would focus on connectivity and interoperability. “The advancement is likely to be in a form of improvement instead of new technology, in which the improvement will most probably be observed with networks (cloud deployment), protocols (open platform) and efficiency, whether it is operational or energy efficiency,” she said.

IEC standardisation work in many areas is set to play a central role in the development of smart buildings.

The IEC is a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organisation that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.

The blog author is Peter Feuilherade, a former BBC World Service journalist, and a UK-based writer and a regular contributor to the International Electrotechnical Commission publication e-tech.

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Zenobia Hegde

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