In film, building automation systems (BAS) tend to have a bad reputation. Think about the most prevalent examples of technology automating the management of a building in film: Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the Axiom spaceship in Wall-E.
Both magnificent feats of building automation, but also both examples of technology wreaking havoc on human lives and putting the people's needs a distant last in the priority list. While the technology behind these examples of BAS is fantastical, the functions are largely in line with what we believe the future of the sector is.
So, let's take the evil AI out of the equation, and look at how the future of building automation systems in Australia will really work.
1) Buildings will speak to third parties
Australian urban centres are adopting the 'smart city' approach at an increasing rate. This means imbuing traditionally static objects (think parking meters) with network capabilities and the capacity to connect with other devices, delivering a stream of information and convenience in new places.
We'll see the same thing in our building automation. Most homes already have televisions or fridges that have smart capabilities, integrating with phone operating systems or other appliances. In our large-scale buildings, this can mean automated emergency lighting or infrastructure when alarms go off, temperature control and even whole-of-building communications.
If it's technology involved in your building, you can expect it to be capable of integrating with everything else down the line.
2) Facial recognition en masse
Technological advances in building automation will empower much more effective security. Biometric sensors and facial or fingerprint recognition are not far away, and can be implemented at entrances or specific security checkpoints in a smart building.
Linked in with your security system, this could mean the end of swipe cards or keys as we know it. Just imagine - a world where building security systems can't be undermined by the loss of a single key.
3) Predictive electrical maintenance systems
Here at Vast Electrical, we already can conduct scheduled or reactive maintenance to address any issues that arise in your building. But with comprehensive BAS, buildings of the future might be able to predict issues ahead of time and alert our team to the work.
This applies beyond electrical services. Cleaning, construction, security and catering services can all be scheduled according to a smart BAS' identification of particular needs.
4) Optimised building performance
Building automation systems will also revolutionise facility management. Space, temperature, lighting and access all need to be finely tuned to each individual's needs, and a smart building is able to tailor each room or space to those within it. The optimisation of this through a smart central database can also have big cost savings.
Deloitte reports that adopting a connected lighting system, for example, can cut bills for this by an average of 50 per cent.
5) Higher energy efficiency
Environmental sustainability is on the agenda of all building managers, both commercial and residential. With stronger building management and automation systems, we're likely to see huge improvements in the way our spaces consume energy and resources.
Optimised lighting and energy systems, automatic adjustment of power use when spaces are empty, and stronger reporting on energy use can have a massive impact on the cost - both financial and environmental - of energy use.
6) Better use of space
BAS of the future will likely be able to identify empty space, the number of people in a building and the time people spend somewhere. This information can be put to excellent use in a commercial context, allowing for the creation of co-working spaces or identifying more appropriate properties for entities operating out of a commercial development.
This can create massive efficiencies in terms of company overhead and operational costs, ensuring the right people are in the right space at the right time. This will be critically important as technology evolves and impacts jobs, changing roles and facilitating more flexible working arrangements that reduce the number of people in a commercial space.
There are some interesting examples of this already in action - in particular, Azure IoT's spatial intelligence systems.
7) Smart parking systems
Searching for a park around commercial spaces is an expenditure of time and resources that stacks up significantly over time. But as building automation systems evolve, so to do peripheral processes like parking.
Smart parking systems can integrate with mobile devices, delivering residents or consumers real-time information on where parking is available, how long they can stay for and how they can pay for it. The slow rise of self-driving vehicles adds to this, portraying a future where commercial and residential developments have parking solutions in which drivers become passengers, and access is fully automated.
8) Delivering civic infrastructure in one place
With a strong building automation system as the bedrock of a high rise development, there is the potential to deliver many facets of the human experience in a single location. Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that telemedecine and even virtual education platforms can form part of this, enhancing residential development capabilities and reducing strain on resources for a city.
This introduces a key efficiency point that applies across all potential BAS applications - sharing the load. When buildings can increase efficiency across all elements of its operation, it reduces the amount of human labour required to keep everyone safe, comfortable and happy.
Embrace the future with Vast Electrical
Despite all our experience, the Vast Electrical team isn't going to make these functions happen overnight. Technology still has a way to go before building automation systems reach the heights we see in those science fiction films, but our first steps to automated infrastructure are in place. We're thrilled to see what happens next - and if you are too, make sure to get in touch with our team.