Building utilization made easier with IoT

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How much of the space in your buildings is properly utilized? A study conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) found that commercial real estate in the US accounts for 12 billion square feet of covered area, but only 67 percent is utilized. How can this be improved?

Figure 1: U.S. Commercial Real Estate, image copyright: <a href="">Economy of Things: Extracting New Value from the IoT</a>

Figure 1: U.S. Commercial Real Estate, image copyright: Economy of Things: Extracting New Value from the IoT

Reasons for building under-utilization

When a building is under-utilized, whether due to high turnover, inefficient scheduling, an increasingly mobile workforce, or fluctuating supply and demand, it can leave rooms or buildings unused for prolonged periods of time.

If you are an employee within a building, you probably see this dilemma everyday with conference rooms. Somebody books a room for a large team meeting and then the meeting gets cancelled – but the room is still booked in the system. If you’re a mobile employee and go into the office occasionally – you likely notice the sea of empty cubicles just sitting there. Somebody is paying the electricity bill but those areas sit unused.

In a manufacturing facility, you go through periods of higher demand where you are at maximum capacity, but what about those times where things are quieter and large portions of the site sit quietly?

Evolution of sensors and monitors

How buildings are monitored and automated has evolved over the last several decades, moving from automation that enabled visibility into what buildings were producing the most waste (but not actually why or what action was required to fix it) to today where we can understand consumption at the desk level using IoT-enabled sensors and devices. In the cognitive era, buildings are aware of their own and their end user’s status, facilitate collaboration between different building systems, and are able to interact with third parties to implement agreed outcomes.

Figure 2: Cognitive Buildings Maturity Framework, image copyright: <em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Embracing the IoT in the New Era of Cognitive Buildings</a></em>

Figure 2: Cognitive Buildings Maturity Framework, image copyright: Embracing the IoT in the New Era of Cognitive Buildings

IoT comes to the rescue

Internet of Things (IoT) can provide the needed data to maximize the space you have.  It can even help with unique initiatives such as transforming how your real estate is managed and utilized. Using various types of sensors, such as RFID tags, beacons, and infrared motion detectors, it can provide information about how many people are occupying a space at any given moment. When you analyze this data, you can begin to detect patterns in usage that can inform the future ways you use those spaces.

Going back to the above example, a conference room that is booked but unoccupied could release itself for use by another employee. Insights can also be used to make decisions to maximize revenue, such as how to optimize the retail displays in your store based on traffic patterns or where to relocate a stadium bathroom so that the line during breaks does not block access to the concession stand.

Listen to your buildings

There are many opportunities generated by ‘listening’ to your employees and customers within a building.  Whether you are managing a workplace, retail store, airport, hospital, campus or any other venue, buildings create an enormous amount of unstructured data. Cognitive computing lets you use that data to make informed decisions about how to optimize the experience of occupants, staff and management.

Bridging the gap between their digital and physical worlds creates an exceptional omni-channel experience. Combining new streams of data such as people profiles, indoor location behavior, weather and social media, will deliver new insights to drive store sales, engage fans, enhance passengers and employee experiences and more.

Learn more

Want to know more about how the IoT can enable cognitive buildings? Attend our webcast ‘Using IoT to understand space utilization’ on the 16th of May.  Register here for the session and get valuable insights to improve your facility operations while lowering costs.

Read more on how the IBM Watson IoT for Buildings solutions can help you optimize your real estate space and facilities.

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