4 February 2021
The Internet of Things – Building for a New Generation

In recent years, many of our blogs have explored the topic of digitisation and how modern technology is transforming and improving our ability to construct in a smarter, more efficient and often more cost-effective way. Nowadays, despite being physically separated due to ongoing restrictive measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, we are more digitally connected than ever before. It is true that almost any object can connect to the internet these days, a concept that is now known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

What is the Internet of Things?

Essentially, the term Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the huge network of objects, devices, vehicles, home appliances and many other items that are able to connect and exchange data via the internet. This encompasses everything from traditional connective devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, all the way to smart heating systems, cars and wearable items such as Fitbits or smart watches.

So, how is the Internet of Things now being used in building and construction?

Smart buildings

The use of IoT in buildings has increased rapidly over the past few years. Memoori, a Swedish smart building research firm, has forecast that the global market for the Internet of Things in Buildings (BIoT) will be worth $84.2bn by 2022 – a drastic increase from the $34.8bn recorded in 2017.

According to Logan Soya, founder and CEO of smart buildings company Aquicore, IoT’s use in buildings falls into four distinct categories:

  1. Energy – such as smart heating or wireless energy consumption monitors
  2. Equipment – such as automated lighting or even smart coffee machines!
  3. Environmental quality – such as CO2 monitors
  4. People or spaces – for example, monitors that count how many people have used a certain entrance, or how many are currently occupying a room or space.

Some examples of exactly what smart buildings can achieve can be seen in Berlin’s Cube building or The Edge in Amsterdam. Covered in smart sensors, they can provide the buildings’ inhabitants with a vast rage of informative data on what is happening within them. For example, they can report free desk spaces or meeting rooms to employees via a mobile app, which then allows them to control the lighting and heat in their chosen room from their phone. Not limited to the buildings’ interiors, these sensors also extend to their carparks, for example by lighting up the area when human presence is detected, and showing app users the spaces that are currently free.

The benefits of IoT

Quite apart from the convenience of being able to control your surroundings via mobile app (no fumbling around in the dark for the light switch!), many businesses are also feeling the cost savings benefit – and going green into the bargain.

IoT, for example, enables businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by monitoring and optimising energy and water use. Sensors can even forewarn maintenance staff of leaks and other repair work that would cause a great deal of damage and wastage if left unidentified. Meanwhile, an insight of what rooms in the building have been used during the day can save money on cleaning and maintenance, as cleaners can skip unused rooms by checking on the mobile app. Or, office managers might use IoT to get notified when office supplies are running out, and even have them ordered automatically.

The future of BIoT

Moving into the future, the rapidly increasing use of smart buildings and IoT could be integral to the government’s ambitious zero-carbon target, with less than three decades to go until the 2050 deadline. Recent research revealed that smart buildings use 25% less energy than traditionally constructed buildings.

As smart buildings become increasingly popular, however, so will businesses’ need for data protection and cybersecurity systems to protect the huge amounts of data flowing through the various systems and devices so integral to smart buildings’ success.