Jirapong Manastrong
668c4dc11da765c6ed90953e Sbt Photo 324690299 Jirapong Manastrong Dreamstime

Riding the Smart Building Wave

July 10, 2024
The smart building technology market is on the rise, but there are challenges to overcome. Here’s how to meet them head on.

There’s a wave that’s gaining momentum and taking the CRE industry by storm: smart building technology. In fact, the market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 10.9%, reaching $256.18 billion by 2033, according to a recently released Precedence Research report. There are many reasons for this healthy growth rate, including building owner and operator needs for improved energy efficiency, environmental regulations, improved occupant safety and the desire to offer digital smart building amenities.

However, several obstacles cloud these forecasts that smart building technology integrators must overcome. This includes cybersecurity threats, integration incompatibilities and the concern over regular maintenance of smart building tech to ensure operability. Let’s look at each of these concerns and how to best overcome them in 2024 and beyond.

Cyber Threats and How to Avoid Them

For many building owners and operators, technology is an aspect of their business that they realize they need but may not have the necessary in-house skills to integrate properly and securely. Because of this, building management often opts to outsource the design and integration of various HVAC, electrical, smart lighting and IoT systems to third-party partners. Often, bids are requested by a handful of technology organizations, and the lowest bid typically wins.

However, there is much more that must be considered­—especially when it concerns the digital safety of systems and data that control critical building functions. Facility professionals must carefully vet integration partners and research past deployments of the partner. Too often the integration partner will use low-cost systems and practices simply to get the lowest bid possible and with maximum profits. These businesses implement the system and then simply walk away, leaving the operator with operational headaches.

A better approach is to pursue a long-term services contract with the integration partner that includes regular software/bug patching and frequent security audits. This puts the integrator on the hook, better ensuring that the smart building technology is secure throughout the lifecycle of the solution. Often, the best option is to look for a managed service provider (MSP) that manages and maintains the technology and delivers service level guarantees and chargebacks when the technology fails to operate—including cyber breaches.

While the cost of entering into a managed service contract may be higher initially, it factors in all the security and maintenance upkeep into a single package. In the long run, this can lower the overall total cost of ownership (TCO) as the operator does not have to be concerned with unexpected consulting services if and when a cybersecurity incident occurs.

Avoiding Technology Incompatibilities

Because smart building technologies span a wide range of uses, few (if any) vendors offer all the technologies your building needs. Combine that fact with proprietary protocols and features, and you potentially set yourself up for disaster when it comes to integrating systems into one of the many building management orchestration platforms available.

The key is to choose a building management system (BMS) that offers the most flexibility for your building’s current and future needs. Then, be sure to choose technologies that have a track record of working well with this system. Finally, choose a partner that is highly recommended by the BMS vendor. While this process may prolong the deployment of smart building technologies, it will be well worth the effort in the long run.

Smart Building Technology Maintenance

Given the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, many smart building technologies can now perform regular maintenance, such as software patching and intelligent tuning of systems, without human intervention. Selecting systems that are on the forefront of AI and automation eliminates human error and reduces the effort that your in-house IT staff will have to endure to keep systems operating as they should. The result is smart technology that is constantly up to date, patched in a timely manner and with a lower overall risk of mistakes that can lead to malfunctioning or insecure systems.

Research, Coordination, and Embracing Innovation Are Keys to Success

If smart building technology vendors want to achieve the impressive growth anticipated by the analysts, they need to do more to ensure that their systems are secure, compatible and easy to maintain. For the most part, this effort is well underway. That said, it’s also the responsibility of the building owner/operator to continuously research what’s available and identify the vendors and integration partners that are leading that charge. Only then can successful implementations occur and remain secure and operational for years to come.

About the Author

Andrew Froehlich | Contributor

As a highly regarded network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, Andrew Froehlich counts over two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Andrew is the founder and president of Colorado-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build-outs. He’s also the founder of an enterprise IT research and analysis firm, InfraMomentum. As the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT-related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations