The Balance Between Efficiency, Experience and Hyper-Surveillance in Smart Connected Buildings
It is safe to say that the built environment has gone beyond basic building automation. Simply focusing on systems such as HVAC and lighting has given way to a fully connected infrastructure where security, access, lifts, parking and every other building technology is connected to the network, integrated and becoming more and more interoperable.
This hyper-connectivity is exceeding expectations when it comes to the five primary objectives of a smart building: energy and natural resource conservation, operational efficiency, enhanced occupant experience, improved sustainability and financial optimization. Using technology to operate a building with extreme precision and delivering 21st century experiences is becoming the new standard.
In order to achieve this high level of technical sophistication a combination of various technologies is required; a standardized IP building network, some form of operating system, a variety of smart devices, numerous applications and cloud connectivity. These fundamental technologies can be weaved together to achieve the goals of a next-generation building.
There are multiple positive goals and objectives related to a smart building, but this extreme level of technology utilization also gives way to the possibility of creating an environment of over-surveillance. HVAC equipment, lights, voice activated devices such as Alexa and Siri (and any other electrical device that might include a microphone, camera or sensor) could be listening and/or watching and gathering an enormous amount of data, providing insight with unintended consequences.
A university that installed sensors for a seemingly harmless activity came to discover a pattern of tardiness of some of its professors, which led to some interesting conversations.
This is just a small example of the type of data that could be collected and combined with other data sets to come up with conclusions about human activity in the building. At some point we will be able to surveil people’s activities 24 hours a day. Yes, your alarm clock, smart bed and/or Fitbit will continue the data gathering even as you sleep.
Many people say that privacy is already gone and that we need to get used to the new normal. Privacy isn’t important until it is. Imagine a confidential conversation between employee and employer, disclosure of a medical issue to HR, a board meeting where a new product is being introduced, data measuring time spent in the restrooms or simply a personal conversation between co-workers.
The biggest potential issues include: Who is collecting the data? What is it being used for? Can unathorized people access it? Is it protected? Are machines making decisions? Who writes the rules? Who owns it? Perhaps most importantly, in the event of a privacy breach resulting in damages, who is liable?
Imagine a new office tower under construction. The architect designs a high-tech board room with a next-generation lighting system that contains sensors and microphones for various applications. Consultants configure the technology, integrators install it, a service provider manages it and it shares a common network provided by the building owner. At a high-level board meeting, a sensitive idea is discussed and the information that had been collected is breached either internally or externally. Who is liable?
As the world becomes more technologically advanced, buildings included, organizations are going to have to take a position on privacy. With GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California leading the discussion of the West and China’s aggressive data collection and monitoring policies providing an exact opposite approach, the topic of privacy will continue to be one of the major societal issues in the years to come.
From a technical standpoint, many experts argue that China is more than five years ahead of the US. The creation of the Social Credit Scoring which is slated for Phase 1 completion in 2020 is achieving data collection, analysis and action on a societal level. Additionally, the surveillance state created by an extraordinary network of next-generation cameras combined with cloud computing and AI is able to track citizens on a real-time basis.
Before anyone says privacy is dead it is a worthwhile exercise to better understand the technology that is deployed today in other parts of the world, including China, to determine what side of the privacy discussion they are on.
We will be taking on the subject of privacy as it relates to smart connected buildings and corporate campuses at CoRE Tech 2019 next week in San Jose. The following is a summary of the discussion. Hope to see you there!
This Week’s Sponsor
RealFoundations is a professional services firm focused on helping companies that develop, build, own, operate, service, occupy or invest in real estate run better.
Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, The Netherlands, UAE, UK & US:
Join Global Peers at CoRE Tech 2019
It's not too late to register: Nov. 13-14 at the San Jose Convention Center.
UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
Smart Building DIGITAL TWINS – Demystifying the Building Visualization Technology - 3/12/2020
From design and construction to operations and maintenance, building processes can be represented by millions of data points. A Digital Twin, the contextual model of an entire smart building ecosystem, serves as a repository of data from BIM, the BAS and sensor networks associated with the building’s infrastructure. It acts as a bridge between the physical and digital world, as the dynamic replica is fed real-time data from actual operations of the physical asset. AI and machine learning integrations help to contextualize and process that data to uncover operation optimization opportunities within the virtual environment that can be applied to the real building. This webinar will demonstrate the current state of Digital Twins in the built environment and feature the most relevant, practical and successful case studies surrounding the technology.
Tom Shircliff is a co-founder and principal of Intelligent Buildings, a nationally recognized smart real estate professional services company that was started in 2004. Intelligent Buildings provides planning and implementation of next generation strategy for new buildings, existing portfolios and urban communities. Tom is a speaker and collaborator with numerous universities and national laboratories, a gubernatorial appointee for energy strategy and policy and founding Chairman of Envision Charlotte, a Clinton Global Initiative.
Matthew Lennan has been integrating IT and building system technologies for more than 30 years. He has developed and implemented computing infrastructures for global financial firms, major healthcare facilities, manufacturing, entertainment complexes and traditional smart buildings. Most recently, Matthew has been working in software development to refine the customer experience for smart buildings in Office, Retail and Residential environments. He is currently responsible for driving Innovation across Oxford Properties’ portfolio.
Marty works with CRE clients to understand their needs and challenges, and then translates that knowledge into strategies for Digital Twin solutions and, ultimately, successful projects and compelling stories. Marty has helped bring technology products to market for more than 25 years. Prior to joining Invicara, he served in marketing, product management and business development roles for a wide range of software companies and founded two consulting firms.