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The Built Environment in 2019

In 2019, we will be driven by what I refer to as the “4 D’s”:  digital transformation, data, dialogue, and disruption.

Marc Petock
Marc Petock,

Chief Communications Officer,
Vice President,
Lynxspring Inc.

Contributing Editor

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As another year approaches, many will speculate what will be. While it is never easy to predict with certainty what is likely to happen, I believe as we prepare for 2019, we are in the golden age of advancement in innovation.

The pace at which technology and innovation has impacted the commercial buildings industry over the past several years has been unprecedented. The proliferation of more powerful connected devices, IoT, the increase in the use of sensors, the ability to capture data from different sources, the increased use of more advanced analytics, have created an exponential rise in the volume, velocity, and adoption of these systems. It has also produced a multitude of new choices.

Our challenge is not technology—it is here, and it is proven—but, rather, it is the willingness and preparation to take advantage of it.

Regardless if you are a technology provider, system integrator, building owner, facility manager, engineer, or contractor, it has never been a more interesting time for the built environment. After years of being over-shadowed, smart building technology is in the spotlight. The technology has matured with the emergence of open platforms, interchangeable hardware and the horde of applications. The transition to smart buildings is now about much more than energy efficiency. It is vital not only to the operation of a building, but occupant well-being and the growth of an organization.

In 2019, we will be driven by what I refer to as the “4 D’s”:  digital transformation, data, dialogue, and disruption. In fact, the 4D’s will be driven at NASCAR speeds and continue to lead the way in redefining how we operate, manage and use commercial space in ways never imagined. 

While we continue to speculate what the new year will bring, I believe there are some definite trends we should be thinking about no matter what role you play in the built environment.
The Empowered Edge

Connectivity, computing, and analytics are increasingly residing at the equipment and device sources. This enables data to be generated faster, more efficiently and more reliably than ever before. The ongoing evolution of micro-processing technology has meant that sufficient computing power to perform the heavy lifting of data acquisition, normalizing and analysis can now be performed directly onboard the devices themselves.

This evolution is happening because of the need to streamline the volume and types of data, reduce latency and manage bandwidth. Furthermore, it is about reducing the amount of data sent to the Cloud, reducing complexity and improving system response time. In fact, some say that 40% of the available data will be collected and analyzed near or at the Edge.

Edge devices are smarter, more powerful, and offer higher levels of functionality with enhanced embedded systems software. The trend is toward connecting more and more devices directly together that provide analytics within each device.

Additional value takes shape when the devices are extended by layering applications that leverage the activities, services, and interrelationships—not only of the devices but of all people, systems and connected devices on the network.


This upcoming year, 2019, will be the year of the platform—especially open platforms.

Open software and hardware platforms are finally getting their just dues. As building operators see these platforms as a way to manage and operate their facilities, system integrators and OEMs are adding services and extending value.  Platforms create value for users by facilitating connections and exchanges between people for services and information.

As we move into the year, expect to see some platform consolidation and the simplifying of related ecosystems.

Data, Data, Data and Analytics

Building systems generate vast amounts of data. Utilizing that data and making it meaningful can be a challenge.

When combined with analytics, one can avoid potential problems, reduce costs, and increase performance. The use of data is no longer optional—it is mandatory.

Data and analytics are now irreplaceable assets in managing and operating our buildings and facilities. You can’t have one without the other. It’s not an either/or situation. The need for cost-effective, real-time data and analytics has never been greater.

Attention will turn from big data to smart data and real-time accessibility. And when it comes to data, unless data is interoperable, one will not experience the full power and value it can deliver. The data produced by a device is now more valuable than the cost of the device.

Data Ownership and Privacy

Along with all the smart data and the number of data points now available, comes two topics that will generate lots of debate and discussion—data ownership and privacy.

It is important to note that data which is generated and gathered by our building systems and sensors, can pass through a number of different layers making for good debates on who owns it. Is it the application provider that shares it, the facility service firm who collects it, or the building owner/operator who owns the building and the systems that created it?  Does data possession equate to ownership?

And how about privacy, especially as we increase the use of occupant data and occupant tracking for space utilization and productivity. There are no clear-cut answers or guidelines here yet, but undoubtedly, are being discussed.

The multitude of available applications and their use will continue to be integrated into platforms and building operating systems. Specifically, apps centering around the organization, management and visualization of data, real-time analytics, predictive maintenance, space utilization, and the occupant experience, will receive top considerations. We will see new applications evolve. However, we need to keep in mind:  it is not about the hip and hype, but rather the real and relevant.

OT and IT

Convergence between OT and IT has been a goal of smart buildings since the market’s inception. While the discussion on centralization and decentralization rage on, we are closer than ever to having both existing simultaneously in the same environment.

Will 2019, be the year we begin to see the development of guidelines, joint standards to help align OT and IT?

5G Technology

As 5G continues to move closer to availability, it is becoming a hot topic for building equipment and technology providers as well as building owners and tenants. Despite the high level of interest—offering greater than 1 Gbps speeds and low latency—there remains a number of questions revolving around:  how we will connect and make use of this technology, and what will its impact on the built environment be?

Artificial Intelligence

When we discuss the built environment in 2019, one must mention Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI will remain the buzzword of the day. Many still are not quite sure what AI is and how it will be applied to use cases within the built space.

2019 is the year that the understanding of its role will gain traction. As more and more devices become connected and capable of interoperating with each other, AI’s language processing, image recognition, and neural network-driven decision making will help them to understand each other, and us.


After a wild couple of years, is it just me, or has the cybersecurity landscape been a bit quiet?

At the very least, the publicity around cybersecurity has quieted down. Rest assured though; the same threats are still there. Many organizations are still not addressing the elephant in the room when it comes to building operations and are underprepared to respond to threats that are ever present and becoming more sophisticated every day. It remains a concern and should part of the conversation and addressed in any deployment.

Cybersecurity comes down to one thing—risk and how much you are willing to gamble.

contemporary Emerging As-A-Service Models

There's a seismic shift happening in the tech industry with as-a-service models being on a major upward trajectory.

While this type of approach in the BAS industry certainly isn't new, I believe the chatter is beginning to increase, and we will see definitive as-a-service models start to be offered and considered as delivery solutions.

One of the greatest benefits of these models, is building operator’s ability to shift the cost of acquiring new technology from a capital expenditure (CAPEX), which they must depreciate, to an operating expense (OPEX). By doing so, companies large and small, can free up cash for investment in strategic initiatives that drive revenue and growth.

OEMs who initially limited their as-a-service to after-service for their equipment to maintenance scenarios, now are looking at leveraging as-a-service models that are proactive and focus on maximizing equipment performance, uptime, and lifetime value.


2019 will be another year for choice. While choice is not new, the influence of platforms, applications, the edge, the influx of data and the open flexibility of today’s technology, make decisions based on choice better than ever.

Maybe some of these trends are ringing true to you in your built environment for 2019.

We are being driven by trends that are being pushed by changes in customer requirements, business compliance, and changing technology. We have created connected built environments that bring people and information together in ways that are meaningful and deliver operational value and successful business outcomes.

Here's to 2019!!


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