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Whitepaper commentary: Embracing the IoT in the new era of cognitive buildings

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A new Whitepaper has found that IoT-enabled buildings can contribute to new levels of productivity, increased environmental efficiency and improved well-being for those who live or work in them.

The integration of IoT devices, cognitive platforms and Artificial Intelligence means the way is paved for innovative new services for engaging with building users, cutting costs by automating repetitive tasks, and improving customer satisfaction thanks to increasingly personalized customer service.

The development of cognitive buildings

Some cognitive capabilities have been around since the ‘80s and ‘90s, when increased automation in buildings allowed real estate teams to identify trends in how a particular building operated. These insights were pretty limited, however. For example, while it would be possible to tell which building is wasting the most energy, it wouldn’t be possible to say why, or what action to take to remedy the situation.

Throughout the noughties, as use instrumentation and analytics has increased, it has been possible to link sensor specific information with analytical tools, to give more specific and actionable insights. We can now look at how a particular room or asset uses energy, rather than the building as a whole, to pinpoint where savings can be made. However, as few organizations have the wherewithal to analyze reams of unstructured data, these insights have their limits, and comparisons can only be made with historical metrics, not real-time information.

The potential of cognitive buildings today

The major difference between today’s smart buildings and those of just a few years ago is the ability of systems to learn. A smart hotel learns when the busy times of year are, the names of its guests and their personal preferences, and responds accordingly. Integrated IoT devices learn system and user behavior to optimize future performance, and they can bring individual building systems together. For example, if a guest books a conference in a hotel, the system would anticipate other needs attendant on the booking and offer them the option to book refreshments via an SMS-like chat service.

On the environmental side of things, connected light sensors learn whether a room is occupied or not, and can dim the lights to save energy when they are not needed. Or automatic blinds could respond to voice commands or the level of sunlight outside.

How IBM is leading the smart buildings revolution

IBM is already actioning these solutions in hotels, hospitals and other buildings. Hotel concierge desk services are powered by data-driven insights that help improve guest services, while in other sectors, routine and repetitive tasks are being automated to free up members of staff for more valuable, customer-facing tasks.

Find out how IBM is working with Harman to bring personalization to hospital bedrooms, and how connected buildings harness the power of IoT insights for a more comfortable environment, reduced operational costs and improved end-user experience.

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