Key Insights

Smart Buildings: Going Beyond the Hype to Reap the Benefits

Axis Communications

Open technology platforms are a giant leap towards building truly smart buildings. It has been a slow start but now things are starting to pick up speed. This blog gives examples of companies that reap the benefits.

In a previous blog post on smart buildings, I noted that the real estate sector has been slow to adopt digitization and an updated business model compared to most other sectors. Many real estate owners are still missing out on the business and operational benefits such as scalability, futureproofing, and additional incomes.

To be fair, ten years ago, no one could have had the vaguest idea about the dramatic changes that digitization, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, et cetera, would bring. And no one indeed knows today what technology we will take for granted in 2025, or how various stakeholder needs will change.

I guess it is only natural that some property owners are reluctant to take the digital leap. Traditionally, the real estate sector has relied on a business model where savings are the top priority, not increasing the incomes – which can be the case with smart buildings. But even so, getting left behind in a silo model benefits neither owners nor the tenants.

Playing to everyone’s strengths

In my previous blog post, Swedish IT entrepreneur Jonas Birgersson advocated a layer structure where the infrastructure ownership is divided horizontally among several players instead of vertically with one or few owners.

“When you spread the control of infrastructure and processes, there is a level playing field,” Jonas said. “In each layer, different players can compete and do what they do best. In the best case, companies are spurred on to be creative and to develop innovations.”

To make it work properly, we must turn to open common standards and open technology platforms where solutions from different third-party suppliers can interact to provide something significantly more than the sum of its parts.

Learning from good examples

From a positive perspective, I can see signs that things are starting to pick up speed. There are players out there that are willing to drive digitization and promoting interactive systems, which have been built on an open platform solution.

While maybe not your typical real estate owner, Swedish self-storage company 24Storage is still a perfect example of how to think and what to do. They chose an IP-based platform when they wanted to upgrade their sales and communication model for better customer experience.

When explaining the thoughts behind the new platform, Michael Fogelberg, founder and board member, said: “We wanted to make it simple for the customers, and to serve them more hours. We needed equipment that works all the time, which is reliable and can be used in many locations simultaneously. One of the first things was to get the access control to work on IP.”

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