Smart buildings, take two

New technologies are making intelligent buildings of today even smarter tomorrow

By giving tenants and visitors useful and perhaps free content, building owners can also generate tenant and visitor loyalty. Mobile applications and digital media can also serve to link up disparate properties owned by the same developer, creating more marketing and advertising possibilities, Mr Chung says.

Converged platform

Cisco has been trumping its own intelligent building concept called the Cisco Connected Real Estate (CCRE). It is a system that merges all services in a building - and in groups of buildings - over a single converged IP platform.

By using an open platform, different buildings in different locations can be linked to the same management framework and control room. The world's largest networking vendor has been putting this concept into practice too. It has over 300 global offices which are today managed from just three locations.

Mr Chung says that developers increasingly see intelligent building systems as a means for creating new revenue streams. 'If Suntec City can have an integrated building management system with digital media, it will be a huge upside for their retailers since they can advertise to every visitor (in the vicinity),' he says.

There is a further appeal of wireless technologies to building owners. This could be their ticket to retrofit older buildings with new intelligence features - at economy rates. Today, intelligent buildings are largely built from the ground up with very few retrofitting examples because retrofitting is simply too costly for most developers.

Mr Chung notes that one of the biggest peeves of real estate developers is the laying in and ripping out of cables in existing buildings, where both the cabling work itself and the resulting disruption to tenants can be very expensive.

But upcoming wireless technologies could banish that bugbear. Mr Chung believes that in two years' time, wireless sensor equipment, which can translate the analogue signals of existing building monitoring systems to digital ones, will become pervasive.

By then developers would not need to change the whole cabling system in order to upgrade or connect to a centralised intelligent building management system. It will also mean more buildings could become smarter, more quickly.