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Internet of Things sensors and AI can change the way we manage buildings—if we utilize them intelligently.

How IoT Sensors and AI are Revolutionizing Smart Buildings

April 10, 2024
The landscape of building management is changing. Here’s why facilities professionals should consider adaptable technologies that simplify operations, reduce costs and increase visibility.

Over the last several years, and particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges faced by building management have increased and evolved, as expectations on facilities managers changed and visibility needs expanded. In addition, the shift from in-office to more hybrid and flexible work environments has changed the way commercial buildings are used, creating the need for real-time insights on building usage, occupant trends and more. The ever-changing landscape of building management demonstrates the strong need for solutions that can easily adapt to the new flexible environment, while also improving overall productivity and performance.

As building managers evaluate their own facilities and opportunities for improvement, smart buildings emerge as a growing trend that has the potential to not only simplify operations, but also reduce costs and increase visibility for all. Leveraging technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), automation and more, smart buildings can help building management streamline operations, increase transparency and automate traditionally manual workflows to create seamless processes and productive management practices that benefit not only facilities managers, but also their clients. This digitization combined with an integrated tech stack that leverages such technology can enable facilities managers to automate traditionally tedious workflows, ensure evidence for compliance, and meet client expectations and needs effectively.

While AI has been a growing trend across virtually every industry over the past few years, due to its ability to automate simple tasks and workflows, IoT sensors are newer to the market, offering smart capabilities that work in tandem with AI to generate workflows and alerts based on processed sensor data. IoT sensors can be set up throughout a facility based on specific needs and respond to physical or environmental inputs, such as light, heat or movement. Once an input occurs, the sensor captures data that is then processed and displayed in real-time to managers. This data can provide a simple status update, or by integrating with AI, it can trigger a necessary workflow or task to be completed without manual intervention required.

For example, in a smart building, movement or temperature sensors could monitor desk occupancy or meeting space usage, giving building management insight into trends and patterns with room usage. With the growing trend of more flexible or hybrid work environments, room usage data and trends can help building management identify how to maximize resources based on occupancy trends, automating related workflows to meet occupant needs. In addition to providing real-time visibility to the comings and goings of a facility, sensor data can help building management track and measure energy consumption, monitoring trends to help their HVAC systems operate more efficiently, while maintaining target temperatures within the building.

IoT sensors help preserve and prioritize resources while at the same time assist with managing ongoing maintenance efforts by tracking inputs, such as room usage, and then automating a necessary workflow, such as cleaning, when the service is needed. For example, by using an IoT sensor on a restroom door, building management can measure restroom usage, automating alerts for cleaning once the restroom has reached a certain usage threshold. This removes the need for rigid cleaning schedules and ensures that facilities are only being cleaned as needed, while still maintaining client expectations for cleanliness.

While IoT systems are not new to building management, the ability to integrate and capitalize on all IoT data, including inputs from sensors, is. Many IoT systems only leverage a fraction of the data at their fingertips, so it’s critical to ensure full integration across the entire system to have all data factoring into reports and dashboards and therefore any decision-making. By bringing sensors into a facility’s system and pushing the data from the sensors through AI, building management can automatically generate jobs and workflows based on real environmental inputs, while also monitoring compliance and implementing necessary operations.

While IoT sensors and AI can streamline operations, automate workflows and increase efficiencies, the heart of smart buildings is the data. By leveraging a process management app, building management can not only integrate their entire IoT system, but can also visualize the insights from that system for full transparency into their operations. With customized dashboards that update in real time, building managers can quickly assess the status of their facility, identifying highest priority needs first as well as anticipate future problem areas. With time-stamped insights, as well as customizable templates, building managers can also oversee a birds-eye view of compliance with the ability to drill down and evidence for each unique workflow.

As the needs of building management continue to change and evolve over time, the technology and solutions used to support them and their outputs should too. Smart buildings that utilize integrated systems and technology, such as IoT sensors and AI, can meet those needs, while helping management cut costs and increase efficiencies across the board. With enhanced operational visibility and streamlined workflows and processes, facility managers can have peace of mind knowing that their facilities remain compliant, efficient and effective for their clients’ ever-changing needs.

About the Author

Fred Whipp

Fred Whipp is the Vice President of Business Development at mpro5, the Process Management App and customer-first solution trusted by food service, retail and facilities management. As an experienced business development executive who leads sales conversations with data, Fred is an expert on best practices and digital transformation in facilities management.

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