Tech for Commercial Property - Megatrends No 3: The Internet of Things

May 2013

What is The Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things refers to a world where any physical object can be connected to the internet and thus be traced, tracked or monitored. And by being connected to the Internet each of these physical objects can communicate with any other physical object.

Why is it a megatrend for commercial property?
Because as more and more elements of the built environment become ‘wired’ then the way we relate to our surroundings will change. We will all be better informed about how the world around us operates, how we interact with it, and how we can make the most efficient, productive use of the world’s finite resources. For those involved with commercial property you will be able to improve the way people enjoy and interact with the built environment. And to a large extent it will the the responsibility of the commercial property industry to enable this step change. The great opportunity is that this connected world will enable the development of a wide range of services that can be provided on top of this wealth of real time data.

Is there a roadmap?
As the world of M2M (Machine to Machine) connectivity grows, more and more uses will become apparent. The potential is huge but as an introduction let’s just outline some of the most promising, with an emphasis on areas that touch on commercial property.

1. Real time information on the availability of parking spaces. And of course directions to get to them.

2. Real time monitoring of vibrations, movement and material conditions in buildings, roads and bridges.

3. Vehicles and pedestrian monitoring to optimize driving and walking routes.

4. Street lighting that adapts to weather, time of day and traffic or pedestrian flows.

5. Real time detection of rubbish levels to optimise clean up and collection.

6. Intelligent roads that enable traffic flows to be adjusted to suit climate conditions or traffic levels.

7. Realtime monitoring of CO2 emissions.

8. Pinpoint and early detection of burst pipes and or pressure levels.

9. The Smart Grid providing real time information on energy consumption and management.

10. Access control to restricted areas and detection of people in non-authorized areas.

11. Liquid detection in data centers, warehouses and sensitive building grounds to prevent break downs and corrosion.

12. Detection of gas levels and leakages in industrial environments.

13. Supply Chain Control: End to end real time information.

14. Machine/Vehicle auto-diagnosis and assets control. Equipment monitors itself, providing advance warning of problems.

15. Monitoring of temperature, gas levels etc

16. Locate indoor assets by use of active or passive tags. (Zigbee or RFID/NFC)

17. Remote control of all appliances.

18. Intrusion Detection Systems. Every door, window, opening monitored

Now, you may say that a lot of the above monitoring is and has been possible for a while, and indeed it has. The big difference though is that by connecting this data to the internet, in real time, enables us to plug it in to Cloud based analytics software and thus extract much more insight than previously possible. And this insight will lead to the services that will enable far more efficient and effective management of the environment around us.

Put all the above together and you can start to feel how a M2M enabled world could be improvement on our current lot. We can create and maintain a better environment. We can turn from being primarily reactive to active in how we manage the environment. We can decide how we want systems to behave and then monitor them with such granularity that we can ensure the outcome we desire.

This is a more for less world. Better by design. And commercial property will be at the heart of it.

Antony

PS For some fun stuff in this area check out Google’s self driving car project where everything really must talk to everything else. And their Google Glass also provides a blueprint as to how we might interact with all the data being given off by ‘things’ around us.

Below is an alpha release of a City wide dashboard as envisaged and created by the CASA research lab at UCL.