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5 technologies to help smart buildings prosper in the new year

Dec. 15, 2022
Contributor Andrew Froehlich lists five emerging innovations that can significantly enhance smart building portfolios in 2023.

The time of year has arrived for reflecting on the past while pondering what the year ahead has in store. The smart building technologies industry has a great deal to look forward to. This includes emerging technologies that will help manage and maintain existing smart systems; staying connected while mobile; and cutting-edge platforms that allow us to work in and manage buildings more efficiently. Here are five up-and-coming technologies for 2023 that can help your building portfolios flourish.

1. Secure access service edge (SASE)

Simplified and secure remote access into a building’s on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure is growing in importance thanks to a shift toward remote and hybrid work-from-home policies. SASE is one way to revitalize remote access functionality, for which remote access VPN is growing long in the tooth both from a usability and performance perspective. The SASE technology framework combines advanced network security with network performance enhancements by way of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) services. Implementing SASE into a smart building’s infrastructure grants building operations employees and authorized tenants access to smart building apps/services and IP-connected IoT/OT systems, regardless of whether they are physically inside the building or working remotely.

2. Private 5G

Private 5G (p5G) is a wireless cellular network technology that provides improved performance, mobility, and data security compared to Wi-Fi. While P5G companies have existed for several years, most deployments have been built using 4G LTE hardware as opposed to 5G largely because of chip shortages and supply chain constraints over the past few years. Beginning in 2023, however, private 5G hardware will become widely available. This means that your smart building can be outfitted with a true P5G network that is well-suited for numerous in-building use cases, including facility communications, IoT and OT connectivity, and physical security/safety technology data transport. Because the technology is so new, a certified partner will likely be needed to install a P5G network. Once the wireless network is deployed, however, in-house IT staff can manage the system on their own.

3. Augmented reality

Managing today’s smart buildings usually involves the outsourcing of IT/OT system maintenance by trusted third parties. One issue with this model, however, occurs when these technicians must visit a property on-site to perform maintenance or troubleshooting. In many cases, they aren’t intimately familiar with the physical layout of buildings, which rooms the IT/OT components are located, or the exact make and model of the system. Augmented reality (AR) hardware and software systems can assist in this regard by superimposing digital overlay directions, notes, and documentation onto a digital view of the real-world environment to help these contractors quickly identify where they need to be and what equipment they’ll be working on. Example building management use cases for which AR could enhance are complex HVAC systems, elevators/escalators, water management, telecom/data center rooms and electricity controllers.

4. Digital twin networks

IT/OT networks form the foundation for digital communication throughout the entirety of a building or campus. Thus, when it comes to making adds or changes to the network, great care must be taken to ensure that any configuration modifications or hardware adds and removals will not negatively impact the network. In this regard, a digital twin network helps as it delivers a way to build a software-derived network that functions identically to the one that’s running in production. Once an in-house team or a third-party contractor builds a digital twin network, any proposed production changes can be tested against the twin to verify that the changes work as intended without unforeseen side effects.

5. Proactive OT monitoring

Now that operational technologies are being migrated onto traditional IP-based networks, all the advance monitoring tools available in these infrastructures can be applied to the monitoring of OT systems. This includes standard alerting when problems are detected, as well as the ability to proactively monitor OT systems to identify problems that are likely to cause outages over time. By using relevant data collected and analyzed using advanced monitoring services, in-house or contracted IT staff can identify and resolve problems with HVAC, electrical, water, and other OT systems before they ever affect the building or its occupants.

Starting the year off with a high-impact project

Whether you are in the market for one of the technologies mentioned above or another tool or platform to better manage or facilitate smart building services, finding a project with a visible win is a great way to start off the new year. To do this, in-house architects or a trusted IT partner should thoroughly research the various technology options, determine how to best integrate them into an existing infrastructure, and deliver a positive impact to building owners, operators, and tenants.

For more news, projects, and profiles in the smart buildings ecosystem, subscribe to the SBT newsletter and follow us on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

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.

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