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January 2020
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This is 2020!

2020 will be the year of the platform— especially open platforms.
Marc PetockMarc Petock
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
Lynxspring, Inc.

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Control Solutions, Inc

The beginning of another new year is upon us, which means it’s time for – you guessed it – thoughts of what lies ahead. Whether you call them trends, forecasts, conjectures, speculations, predictions, estimates, likelihoods, your two cents, or downright guesses, 2020 is here and there is a lot to be said about it within the built environment.

So, what trends are in store for the built environment in 2020?  Here are nine to keep in mind. 

VISIONDigital Transformation

Companies are taking advantage of digital transformation within their businesses to meet numerous business and organizational goals, gain efficiencies, take advantage of new opportunities and improve performance.

While the built environment has embraced digital transformation to varying degrees, smart building technology has become the cornerstone of this transformation and will capture the attention of more building owners and operators. Digital transformation has changed the landscape in which buildings operate and must be embraced to remain competitive.

Cyber and Information Security

While we would hope cyber security and information security would diminish in importance, the opposite is happening.

As 2020 begins, these are more important than ever before. We are seeing an increase in ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, fakes, and compliance directives from government initiatives whether it be federal or state mandates such as in the states of California and Oregon. Cyber security and information security continue to be persistent risks requiring diligence and care. There will be a broadening push to deliver more proof of compliance with clear ways to validate what is being done to help ensure strong protections are in place. 

Connectivity

As buildings continue to embrace more interconnectivity, the requirement for quality cellular and wireless coverage throughout corporate facilities will become more prevalent.

While still in the early stages, we will begin to see how 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and other technologies are going to radically improve connectivity and ultimately impact the connectivity strategies for buildings. Designed to handle the fast-growing numbers of devices and user requirements and all the demands that come from an increasingly wide range of new and emerging high-bandwidth and time-sensitive applications, Wi-Fi 6 and 5G provide significant upgrades in speed, capacity, throughput, reliability and connection density.

Continued Movement to the Enabled Edge

The movement to the edge is already one of the biggest trends happening within the built environment.

In 2020, we’ll see more deployments in distributed connectivity, data collection and performing analytics at the “edge”—that is, adjacent to where the data was produced. With more devices at the edge comes more data that has the potential to provide enhanced insights into how we manage and operate facilities. When it comes to benefit and value delivery, the edge delivers on speed, latency reduction, scalability, security, network bandwidth conservation, reduced operational costs and data sovereignty. Adoption of edge technologies ensures a much greater degree of flexibility for the future integration of new systems and applications into the smart building.

Data 

If there was ever was a king within the built and facilities environment it is:  data and open, interoperable data management systems. Every building is generating heaps of structured and unstructured data. Data accessibility and making use of it is no longer a nice to have; but rather, a must. Yet most organizations have not yet fully explored how to capture, curate and use this information. Data has become an irreplaceable asset in how we manage and operate our buildings. Attention has turned from big data to smart data and real-time accessibility. The data derived by a device is now more valuable than the cost of the device itself.

Expanding Role of Sensors

They may be small, sometimes barely visible, but sensors are going to be even more important as we continue extending the connectivity of systems and equipment and enhance the occupant experience. The growing popularity of sensor systems is attributed to factors including flexibility, lifecycle cost, changing demands, and the expectations of occupants and facility managers. Sensors amplify the benefits of intelligent building solutions because of their ease of connectivity. Sensors play a crucial role in facilitating intelligent building solutions that can provide actionable insight through data-driven tools. Wireless connectivity is expanding sensor capabilities by allowing easy connection to larger networks that can increase the number of connected devices and enable more granular control over building systems.

IP

With the convergence of building management and information technology systems, IP-enabled devices are becoming a common element and more prevalent within buildings of all types as we head into 2020 and into the next decade. IP-enabled devices take advantage of embedded intelligence and offer many benefits including making use of existing network infrastructures, require no special knowledge for installation, offer several connectivity options, (fiber, wireless, VPN etc.) and bring agility, interoperability, speed and adaptability that are pushing expanded applications. IP is also flattening the topology of traditional the building controls architecture. We are moving from one which has been vertical for years to one that is horizontal. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Control Solutions, Inc Nowadays, there is still great buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) and the possibilities it can bring to the built environment. In 2020, there will be an ever-present discussion about AI. Artificial intelligence has been around for some time, however, within the built environment, AI has generated more hype than results so far. While some hype remains, real use cases and real-world applications with valuable results are emerging and 2020 will be the year we see more. AI is a powerful tool and will have a profound effect on the way our buildings are managed and operated.

Platforms

2020, will be the year of the platform—especially open platforms. Platforms create value for users by facilitating connections and exchanges between people for services and information. Related to platforms is the emergence of the Building Engagement Platform. Please refer to my December 2019 article “The Evolution of the Building Platform”. From this article, buildings are no longer passive places where we just work; they are digitally enabled, and they are social. They are ecosystems and places of engagement in which there are interactions between occupants and their surrounding environments, communications between IT and OT, exchanges between HR and facility management—all to create engaging experiences to make the workplace smart, comfortable, safe, productive, healthy, secure, achieve higher levels of performance and become adaptive, meaningful environments.

Investments in smart building technologies is moving up the agenda. The built environment is perhaps the most transformative and compelling application of innovative technologies for businesses today. The challenge is not technology—it is here, and it is proven—but the willingness and preparation to take advantage of it.

One thing is for certain, 2020 is the start of a new decade that promises to be very exciting and a catalyst for one of the biggest shifts of the decade. Regardless if you are a technology provider, system integrator, building owner, facility manager, engineer, or contractor, it has never been a more exciting time for the built environment. It’s exciting to see where buildings will go next.

Cheers to a great 2020!!


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