Editor's Letter

Dec. 19, 2017

What will a Year of the Dog mean for FMs?

In Chinese astrology, 2018 is a Year of the Dog. Dog Years are not conducive to waste and unnecessary expenses. But given the budgetary constraints of their professional positions, FMs are not prone to such excess anyway. Other prognosticators, past and present, also see a year that may well go to the dogs. Nostradamus predicted a great global war in 2018 that will leave few survivors. And I read that a modern-day biblical psychic predicts the end of the world in 2018.

Aside from their improbability, these predictions don’t tell me much about facility management, so I am emboldened to make two of my own, both involving technology. Mine don’t involve apocalyptic events because, in the buildings industry, change occurs slowly.

The first involves digital controls and connected devices, which are hardly new. But they will continue to make familiar equipment function in new ways. An example is elevators with occupant evacuation operation (OEO). These look the same as the elevators that we have always been told to avoid during fires. However, they have sensors and controls (as well as fireproofing and other construction features) that enable them to evacuate people safely and rapidly from high-rises (see article on page 26). Another example is LED lighting, which is becoming more than simple illumination because it can promote occupant wellbeing with changes of color and light quality through the day.

My second prediction involves virtual reality (VR) technology. In 2017 I saw several demos of VR headgear for maintenance and repair of building systems. The technology provides a wealth of equipment information onsite and sends real-time images via headgear cameras to others when the operator needs expert input from a remote location. Such headgear can also visualize how new products and equipment would look in a given space or building. Building inspections and measurements would seem to be a natural app for this technology. For example, imagine an FM using the headgear to examine a potential roof problem while receiving immediate graphic info on possible remedies.

FMs who recognize how to utilize the data that can be gathered in a building should be in a position to further their careers in 2018 and many years to come. Those who don’t may prove to
be sleeping dogs.

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