Checkout this short guide to smart buildings.

A Guide to Smart Buildings

Technological advances are affecting everything starting from our coffee makers to the buildings where we live. In fact, smart buildings are growing in popularity across the globe due to the many advantages they provide. A smart building will connect the occupants and all the machines to a grid of information. In fact, the amount of information that can be produced, stored, and communicate in a modern building is enormous.

Smart buildings will connect and control all the systems in it in order to increase the efficiency of its occupants, lower the environmental impact, and reduce the cost of the building at the same time. For example, a smart building can easily control door & room access, power, illumination, security, air conditioning, sanitation, and more. All this is done to provide a more efficient and productive building to its occupants.

The Pros and Cons of Smart Buildings

A smart building provides numerous advantages and disadvantages just like all other technological advancements. The most important advantage is the impact on the cost of owning and operating the building. The building will be designed to discern the patterns of cost fluctuations of each individual system involved in the day-to-day activities of the building. In fact, the building will learn when its occupants shut down or decrease illumination, air control, or unnecessary assets which are only required for making the occupants more comfortable in a certain location of the building.

The advanced system in a smart building helps keep track of and learn about the maintenance cycles of the machinery and equipment used in the building. It will notify the management when there is a critical need that workers should address. It helps create a safer work environment and saves money over time. As the system connects itself with the smart electrical grid, it will help track the fluctuating costs of electricity throughout the day & incorporate the data into the system so that you can have the lowest possible electrical charges for the building.

Cyber security is one of the main disadvantages of a smart building. When all devices of a building are connected to a single control network, there is always a risk of outsiders hacking into the building. The result of a successful hack could range from someone just fooling around with the lights of the building or capturing important information from the company.

Putting a Smart Building to the Test

In order to test the security strength of a smart building, the X-Force Security Research Group of IBM decided to conduct a penetration test on the automation system of the building. The results of the test indicated that little thought was put into the security of the system. The team accessed several systems that could be used to negatively impact the company, but they stopped once the point was proven.

In fact, the team at IBM released some helpful information after the penetration test. Poor password management was one of the ways the team could access the system. The company responsible for maintaining the smart building had stored the passwords as clear text and shared the passwords between different devices. You should avoid such types of weak password practices. The team recommended that not all smart devices need to be given remote access, and the user should disable such access in order to prevent possible security breaches.

There are software systems that can monitor activity on the network and notify the user of any suspicious activity similar to computer networks. In fact, the automation system and software should remain up-to-date in order to offer the highest level of security. The potential for security breaches is high with smart systems. But the cyber security specialists should be able to develop effective ways to fight this situation. By using the recommended preventive measures, you can minimize this disadvantage.

Massive Growth Predicted for Smart Buildings

Zion Research predicts that the smart building industry will grow by at least 30% between 2015 and 2022. The growth projection is attributed to the advantages of the system. On the other hand, favorable government regulations that help reduce environmental and infrastructure impacts and urbanization paces also help in growth. The high cost of construction is an obstacle to this growth.

With the consumer market for smart home appliances growing, people tend to incorporate the systems piecemeal. There are thermostats and lighting that could be controlled by computers and smartphones. A person can access security systems from his/her workplace in case they forget to lock the door or would like to monitor a child. The University of British Columbia conducted a research project that predicted the possibility of turning windows into TV screens. These types of smart devices help grow the industry from the corporate world to the homes of individuals.