The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the biggest buzzwords in building and facilities management. The connotation of being called a buzzword or a trend implies that whatever it is, won’t be around for very long. That’s why I don’t call IoT a trend. Instead, I would call it an emerging technology. We’ve seen this technology just about everywhere, from traffic control to personal spending. IoT has already made an impact, and it’s only really just begun.
But what’s the importance of this emerging technology within the facilities industry? Why should facility management care about IoT? The answer is two-fold.
In most cases, within the last 50 years or so, the efficiency of facilities equipment has gotten much better. Unfortunately, the people operating the equipment were not always as savvy or as educated to understand how to best optimize the units or equipment that were helping run the facility. Before IoT, a lot of what we now call building automation-- in my opinion is a precursor to IoT-- were in place to improve the ability and efficiency of running a facility. However, if you needed to make modifications or retrieve data, then you typically had to pay for a manufacturer or the service company that provided the building automation system. With IoT, it’s very clear that the systems are becoming very user-friendly. With the advent of almost everybody having a smartphone-including facility management- there is a level of comfort that people develop with seeing their data almost instantaneously.
The second part involves having one person run the facility (for this example I’ll use the name, Joe). Joe was very knowledgeable on how to productively run a facility. If anything happened to Joe, the facility would suffer because all of that valuable knowledge was with Joe, apart from maybe a notebook that may or may not have good notes. The point is, there was no real historical and comprehensive data that Joe’s colleagues would have to refer too when any issues arose. With IoT, this eliminates the admin work that Joe may or may not have been doing but also makes the data user-friendly, easy to understand, and also makes sure that nothing is missed, big or small.
But IoT doesn’t stop there. An AIG report discusses that by 2020, there will be 40-50 billion connected devices. These devices can save people at work from sensors detecting toxic chemicals or sensors on vehicles that can detect cars in front of it. It also encourages smarter living through saving energy and enables facilities to detect anything from gas leaks to termite infestations. Typical facility nuisances become easily fixable from having all this data and information.
With the explosion of IoT technology, the use of big data, and how user-friendly and convenient IoT really is, I believe that the Internet of Things is definitely here to stay.