Digitalization - The Key Enabler of Smart Buildings and Cities

    Smart buildings are the foundation of a smart city, and smart cities offer a better quality of life for residents and visitors. Regionally, visionary governments are driving programs to create cities that are safer, more productive, more sustainable, and ultimately, smarter. With countries ramping up their city developments, spending on smart city technologies in the Middle East and Africa is expected to increase to $2.7 billion by 2022 from $1.3 billion in 2018.1

    People spend 80% to 90% of their time in buildings; be that at home or in the office, at a shopping mall, university, hotels or airports. As the pace of urbanization increases, city residents are demanding better user experiences from the infrastructure they use every day, and at a sustainable cost. To meet these demands, it is crucial for building owners and operators to drive maximum value by creating an environment that is productive, safe and secure, while leveraging management solutions that help control energy consumption, reduce costs and drive sustainable outcomes.

    One sure way of doing this is through digitalization and the active adoption of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies to use data and insights that drive efficiencies for owners and operators, while improving the quality of life for those living and working in buildings and cities.

    A recent survey by Honeywell found that 65% of medium-to-large organizations operating in the buildings and cities sector across the UAE and Saudi Arabia, including real estate developers, construction companies and facility management firms, believe IIoT technologies are critical to business operations or will become so in the next five years. This reflects the successful and rapid acceleration of digital transformation initiatives in urban ecosystems, as well as an increased understanding of its many benefits. These include improved operational efficiencies, time savings and increased revenues that can be gained by deploying these technologies. 

    In addition, 70% of survey respondents from the buildings and cities sector said they expect their IIoT spending to increase over the next five years. This includes spending on solutions to monitor lighting, temperature controls or advanced software platforms that can reduce the downtime of a building’s critical assets or provide enhanced occupant comfort across a city’s hotels, airports, malls or metro stations. On a city level, these solutions can facilitate traffic management and crowd monitoring or increase pedestrian safety and security. The applications are almost endless.

    Our survey found that IIoT is no longer a ‘nice to have’. IIoT-enabled technologies collate real-time field data across major enterprises, identify anomalies, and run smart algorithms for predictive and prescriptive maintenance of a building’s mechanical assets. These benefits, which deliver levels of operational intelligence that were previously unobtainable, explain why so many organizations now see IIoT as a critical enabler of building and city operations.

    But while increased IIoT connectivity is creating many new opportunities, we must also address the continuous efforts being made to safeguard the benefits of data-driven decision-making. As IIoT adoption increases, so is our focus on implementing robust cybersecurity solutions. We are working with our customers to integrate rigorous cybersecurity systems that enhance safe and secure operations.

    Government entities are working hard to ensure that this region is ready for the future. As local communities continue to grow and develop, it is important that we put the right technologies in place to drive efficiencies and value for the owners and operators of buildings and cities, while creating the best possible quality of life for residents. Buildings and cities that keep up with the pace of digital transformation and successfully incorporate IIoT will lead the way and be at the forefront of future development.

    [1] Source: IDC – 2018 – Worldwide Semiannual Smart Cities Spending Guide