Smart Buildings are like human bodies, with each room and corridor having its own function. Each of these rooms needs services, and to ensure the right services each room and the whole building needs data to properly perform and be a sustainable entity. Different solutions and systems are needed to keep up with the need of data, and these systems and solutions are like the vital organs of the body. Much like the heart and blood circulatory system of the body, Wirepas keeps the data flowing back and forth, in and out of the vital systems to keep the building alive.
Smart Building ecosystems
Wirepas Mesh offers a horizontal technological solution on top of which solution providers can build their offerings. The technology enables all the solutions to use the same network without interfering with each other (or other networks on the same frequency band) and to collect all data into a central system. A system integrator, acting as the brains of the operation, combines all the solution parties together and creates a backend with business intelligence, and a visualisation company ensures that the users have a real time digital twin of the building.
The network acts as a foundation connecting all the needed lighting fixtures, sensors (e.g. air quality, temperature and humidity) and performs the indoor positioning much like the blood’s circulatory system. The network forwards the sensor data via a gateway to backend systems and from there to control systems for heating, air conditioning and lighting. The positioning data gets forwarded to visualisation platforms to ensure that workers find assets as easily as possible. The same technology also needs to be able to send beacons which any smart device can understand to enable e.g. wireless light switches and way-finding. All the vital organs (the solutions and systems) get served the oxygen (the data) they need.
A great example of a heart-warming project which brought a building alive is the UMC Utrecht Children’s hospital where the Wirepas ecosystem worked together to test positioning of fundamental equipment on a temporarily closed children’s ward. Fujitsu provided anchor devices which acted as reference points and tags which were attached to various hospital assets. Systematic provided the visualisation of location data, which was collected via the Wirepas Mesh network and calculated by the Wirepas Mesh Positioning Engine. The Ingy lighting application ran on Koopman Interlight smart LED lighting fixtures to control the lighting but just as importantly to act as anchor devices for location. Treon air quality sensors also used the lighting infrastructure to pass data to another parallel visualisation portal, this time from GOOEE. EnOcean’s energy harvesting Bluetooth wireless switches were configured to activate the lights but also make a ‘call’ for assistance. The Wirepas Mesh anchor devices (Fujitsu and Ingy/Koopman) were configured to transmit beacons which were used by Esri’s ArcGIS mobile solution for indoor mapping and navigation.
The benefits touch all our lives
Being able to react in real-time to temperature, humidity, air quality and light can save energy and this, of course, is of clear interest to facility managers and owners as it reduces labour and saves costs. Energy efficiency is good for the wallet but it’s good for the environment as well.
Contract construction companies can also benefit from the technology in the building phase by tracking their tools and equipment, as well as sensoring (e.g. for poisonous gases) to ensure their staff is safe and sound. In a construction environment the technology can also help in hazardous situations, like a fire or an explosion. (read more here)
All buildings can be smart in the future
Tieto Empathic Building has also been able to combine multiple operators and technologies to provide their office environment solution. Haltian devices are connected to each other with Wirepas Mesh for sensing (e.g. meeting room occupancy) which removes the need for meeting room reservations as free rooms can be seen on a map real-time.
In the future we will also see smart shopping malls that serve the building management, the maintenance teams, the retailers and the consumers using a single network technology as its backbone. Cleaning carts and other equipment can be tracked; roll cages that bring goods to stores can be tracked; goods-in process automated; sensors can collect air quality, temperature and humidity to control systems to react to in real-time; fire detection can trigger beacons to consumers’ phones to warn them of danger; and smart washrooms can be added to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.
Smart factories are rising to enhance the production levels by tracking assets on the shop floor. Losses of gases can be measured using sensors in levers that alert if the valves haven’t been closed properly. Waste management will benefit from sensors too. The working environment can be improved to maximise production by using sensors to bring real-time data to heating and air conditioning systems.
Building the ecosystem that realizes these projects requires that you first understand the customer use cases, then match-make the ecosystem partners, and last but by no means least – let the technology do the rest. Once this foundation is in place you can let the building do the work.
Smart Buildings are not just brick and mortar (such as factories, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, ships, warehouses, harbours and shipyards), but a way to gather important data upon which decisions can be made and actions taken. These decisions can impact the daily comfort of building users, the building efficiency, and most importantly the building’s ecological footprint. And Wirepas is at the heart of it all.