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Gundars Kaupins: ‘Building Internet of Things’ is coming

Constructing a commercial building often involves using different contractors for security, lighting, water, irrigation, meters and electricity. The contractors often use different software and automation systems. This creates a significant burden on tenants who wish to integrate all building systems so they can communicate with each other.

The Internet of Things involves using all of the aspects of a building, including security, lighting and water, and allowing them to communicate with each other.

For example: As the outside temperature soars, a temperature monitor communicates with the sprinkler system to start. Sensors in the ground communicate to the sprinkler system that enough water has been used. Those ground sensors also detect reflected light from the building’s outside windows and alter the angle of those windows to reduce the reflected light on the grass. The altered windows affect the temperatures inside, so the windows inform the cooling system to adjust. Manufacturing equipment inside the building also informs the cooling system to adjust in response to heat the equipment will generate.

Is the technology in place to do most of these coordinated activities? Yes. Do contractors have the reasonable chance they can be done? No.

The commercial building construction industry is not there yet. The Internet of Things market is in its infancy. The way buildings are financed, contractors are obtained, and builders are committed has yet to be changed.

The ultimate goal with the Internet of Things in commercial construction is to save future tenants money by having the various parts of a building work together to enhance security, reduce heating and cooling costs, anticipate future energy usage and reduce the daily burden on employees to adjust the building itself.

Integrating buildings will come with potential costs. Integrated software can be hacked to introduce malware and viruses. These infections might lead to an overheated building, sprinklers running 24 hours a day, or electricity inappropriately shutting down. Internet and other security enhancements would be needed.

Another potential problem is that competitors and third parties might inappropriately find out what is happening in the company. Hacked software could allow competitors to turn on security cameras and watch. Employee privacy would suffer.

Privacy laws have not kept up with the Internet of Things to protect builders, tenants and employees from the new technology. Building contracts need to be mindful of problems with the “Building Internet of Things” before full efforts to create it are finished. In general, if there is any monitoring that will take place, it must be job-related.

The Internet of Things is certainly the wave of the future, but it will take time.

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