Smart buildings are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency, increased security, and improved safety measures. In fact, experts forecast a growth rate of 22% for the smart building market by 2029! Clearly there’s something smart about this innovative technology. From healthcare to finance to education and more, there are countless businesses and institutions that would benefit immensely from this concept.
You’re probably wondering: What is a smart building? How will it improve safety and security? Should my business invest in a smart building soon? Many business owners, CSO’s, and CTO’s are all wondering the same thing. The security experts at Computers Nationwide are here to guide your workplace into the future! Intelligent building design requires both cyber security and physical security planning from the inside out. Keep reading to learn how your company may benefit from converting to a smart building…
What is a Smart Building?
A smart building is one where heating, ventilation, lighting, cooling, security, etc. are integrated into a single, managed IT network. This innovative infrastructure uses multiple automated devices, security measures, and AI machine learning to collect data and inform businesses of smart, energy-saving, cost-efficient decisions – while also improving safety by limiting access. Reducing waste while increasing safety…what could be better?
Infogrid shares: “Typically, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology that powers building intelligence. IoT equips objects and systems across your facility—from piping to doors to lighting—with smart sensor devices. Feeding real-time data to a central dashboard hub, IoT technology delivers smart insights, to help you better understand your buildings. This can help facilities managers and security personnel better able to monitor site access, control occupancy levels, and get a better understanding of your buildings in general. Smart building technology ultimately enables you to ensure the safety and integrity of your facilities and safeguard the wellbeing of all of the people working in that environment.”
Understanding Smart Buildings
All of these devices and programs are interconnected in a smart structure and collect data. Then the information gathered from different endpoints is gathered and organized into one convenient place. From there you can monitor electricity usage patterns, personnel work hours, air quality, surveillance systems, cleanliness, access control reports, and routine work processes.
The goal of gathering this key data is to share it with the administration or building manager. It will guide them in optimizing your building’s environment for improved employee well-being, innovative processes, and more efficiently use electricity and other utilities. This prevents resources from being wasted and will save your company money in the big picture. Security breaches and malware can be identified early on through data anomalies, increasing security, and reducing safety concerns.
Did we mention that smart buildings are green and eco-friendly? If your organization prides itself on sustainability, then adopting a smart building is a must: “More often than not, architects and engineers are being urged to look to the future and consider changes to help protect the environment and build more sustainably. This includes buildings that are being designed to be more sustainable, eco-friendly, and smarter. From small offices to a large university campus, buildings are classified as smart if they use technology to enhance building operations.” AIA
Modern Security Challenges and Reducing Risks with Smart Buildings
Despite all these advantages, smart buildings can pose common security challenges as well. For example, several of these structures do not already have a centralized network, which makes it harder to maintain control. A decentralized network is often a result of businesses installing systems on a per-need basis and automating systems to deal with a single issue, rather than setting things up with the bigger picture in mind.
With several internet connections and disjointed devices, cyber security can be compromised if systems are hacked and important information is leaked out. A worst case scenario (in addition to a data breach) would be hackers gaining control of your network and wreaking havoc on your building and business.
To leverage the full advantages that smart buildings have to offer, they must be well-designed with careful foresight! Businesses need to understand their current needs and forecast future needs before deploying smart systems. Creating the ultimate smart building with a Fort Knox cyber defense and flawless access control may be a challenge, but it is not impossible! With strategic planning and partnering with IT professionals like the CN team, nothing is out of reach. Which brings us to an important question: How do you design the perfect smart building for your business?
Benefits of Smart Building Design
Before getting into the nitty gritty of secure smart building design, here’s a quick snippet featuring the top benefits from adopting smart practices:
- reduce energy costs
- increase staff productivity and wellbeing
- improve building operations
- support sustainability
- stronger security
- save money long term
Designing the Perfect Smart Building
Design with a Vision
Disorganized smart buildings can pose a huge cyber security risk to your business. So if you decide to implement smart building technology, begin with a vision in mind and plan accordingly from the inside out. Before focusing on the appearance, what’s underneath (and up in the cloud) is a vital element. Partner with an IT professional like Computers Nationwide to help you design a game plan for both short term and long term success.
If you have multiple buildings, are they connected? Do the buildings in different locations share a network? Are you equipped to support WFH? Do you have cyber-security protocols in place for remote work? All these questions need to be considered when designing your smart facility. Most smart building planning encompasses six key areas: connectivity, health and well-being, safety, power and energy, cybersecurity, and sustainability.
A Centralized Network
Whether you have one location or multiple, all your devices and data should converge to a single network. Only then will the business be able to leverage the efficiencies and increased security that these systems offer.
The network created needs to be designed per the business requirements. What processes take place and how does the data flow? What third-party systems need to be connected to the network? You should have a thorough understanding of the devices and systems installed, who requires access, and how they are all interconnected to build the most effective network for your organization.
A smart building is only as efficient as the systems installed. For increased security, you must deploy the relevant systems to ensure enhanced security. Think of systems that can help you function better and achieve business goals and growth.
Monitoring systems help keep tabs on the occupants of the building. You can identify who enters the building at what times and days. Over time a pattern is established, and any unusual activity raises alarm and requires notice. Data is king today and it needs protection. With authorization controls in place, you can ensure only the relevant personnel have access to systems and information. Any individuals seeking access to unauthorized information can be identified. These precautions reduce the chances of data breaches and help enforce the confidentiality of sensitive information.
Local Controller Access
To enhance cyber security in smart buildings, it’s important to adopt the right model for your infrastructure. The local controller model protects your data, assets, and information from being attacked and your systems from being hacked. In this model, all the smart devices in your facility do not operate on their own and independently. Such a scenario yields greater security risks as any of the devices can be hacked and controlled to extract information. Under the model, all devices are connected to a local controller which is the only point you need to safeguard and defend.
With one interface to protect, you reduce the risk of multiple leaks and avoid managing several devices. You can reallocate the budget to set up protocols to defend the controller when under attack. Maintenance and upgradation of one interface are also easier to manage as compared to that of multiple smart devices.
Increasing Security with Smart Buildings
“Building security is the protection of property, assets, and occupants from intruders, perpetrators of violence, and unsafe or hazardous situations that can cause them harm or damage. Its goal is to deter, prevent, detect, and respond to physical security violations effectively. Underestimating the importance of building security puts everything and everyone within the building at risk, including the actual work or commercial activities taking place.” Safety Culture
Outdated security practices alone have proven to be ineffective at crime prevention and deterring violence. These days, the best security strategy is a holistic one. That means it entails several levels of protection and various technologies that all work together seamlessly. Having one security camera and security guard at the entrance isn’t enough anymore.
These days, the strongest building security measures cover all angles. For example: automated visitor check ins, access control solutions, motion sensors, smart locks, surveillance cameras with live monitoring and AI facial recognition, video intercoms, turnstiles, security guards, alert notification systems, and more.
Partner with the Security Professionals at CN
Designing and implementing a smart building and a convergence network is a massive investment and can go wrong easily if you do not have the right team in place. This process requires a deep analysis of your business: needs, values, prospects, goals, and current IT infrastructure. There are many areas of risk and vulnerability if your building isn’t secured from all angles – physically and digitally. We highly recommend connecting with a trusted Managed Service Provider that can design the best IT structure, cyber security protocols, and security processes for your company.
The best technology partner will not only offer you the best managed solutions, but also ongoing support, monitoring, updating, and maintenance. That’s where Computers Nationwide comes in to help! As the Midwest’s premier technology advisor for businesses of all sizes, rest assured we’ll set your workplace up with superior security technology, innovative cyber security solutions, and a modern IT infrastructure.
We’re proud to offer a variety of services to help clients like you achieve success! Interested in planning your smart building implementation? Let’s get started!
With reputable partners like Hikvision, Aiphone, Avigilon, and Geovision, we have the best industry-leading affiliates to choose from! As a vendor-agnostic technology advisor, you can trust we’ll choose the customized solution that best fits your unique needs, from Access Control to Video Intercoms to Commercial Surveillance.
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