By Minu Youngkin, Channel Marketing Manager
IMAGINE A BUILDING where employees scan a badge or present a smartphone-based credential to gain access. When access is granted, the building’s other systems are triggered to turn on the lights, adjust the temperature and alert security that someone has accessed the building. During the day the network monitors water use, sending an alert to facilities if a restroom faucet is left running or if a normally locked door is left ajar.
At the end of the day, the access credential is used to exit the building, triggering the reverse actions of the morning — lights are dimmed, temperatures are lowered and doors are locked. Welcome to a building automated by the Internet of Things, or IoT.
While access control may be the “trigger” for all of these functions, the entire system is based on a sophisticated automation system that allows every aspect of a building’s operation to be networked, from lighting to intercoms, access control, video, fire safety and climate controls. In most cases, all of these functions have some shared equipment, even if they don’t always have a shared “customer.” You can conquer this potential divide by offering diverse services that add up to significant cost savings for the end user, as well as enhanced security.
In every building that has an integrated security and access control system, an opportunity awaits to also integrate the building’s energy use, water use, ventilation and more. Understanding where the security integrator can step into the mix may be the key to capitalizing on potential commercial opportunities as the demand for smart technologies continues to grow.
More: The Internet of Things: New Opportunities Bring New Security Challenges
Internet of Things Becomes Key Influencer
Of all the current technology trends, perhaps the most revolutionary in terms of its ability to completely transform the way we live is IoT. Using cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors, IoT enables machine-to-machine communication and creates a mobile, instantaneous link to this interconnected system. It’s projected that by the year 2020 there will be as many as 200 billion connected devices across the globe. That translates to roughly 26 smart objects per person. IoT will ultimately enable anything with an on and off switch to be connected to the Internet.
“Until very recently, the Internet has been almost completely dependent on people and their inputs for its supply of information,” says Rob Martens, futurist and director of connectivity platforms, Allegion Security Products. “However, as tools and products evolve, these new smart devices are able to input data into the Internet themselves. When groupings of these smart devices work in unison, they can reveal previously unseen patterns and opportunities. These results generate huge opportunities.”
In an automated environment access control systems can be tied into myriad other building systems to optimize lighting controls, reduce energy waste, increase worker productivity and more.
In a commercial facility, the result is a building that can not only respond to, but actually anticipate its occupants’ needs and activities. And the more subsystems tied together and automated, the more intelligent and efficient that building becomes.
The potential for energy savings alone is enormous. In the United States, commercial buildings account for nearly 20% of the nation’s energy usage, with more than half that figure being used simply for heating and lighting. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the typical commercial facility wastes 30% of its energy. When you consider that commercial and industrial buildings in the U.S. are responsible for $200 billion in annual energy costs, that translates to $60 billion being wasted each year.
As a result, smart buildings are on the rise around the world as companies consider not only the possible cost savings, but also their environmental impact. Customers are increasingly concerned with the sustainability practices of the companies they do business with. Fortunately, advances in technology — aided by the design and installation expertise of professional integrators — have made it possible for businesses to reduce their environmental impact while improving their bottom line.
Building ROI for End Users
Capital is not always readily available for efficiency improvements. In order to effectively sell a multipart integrated network, it’s critical to be able to pinpoint the end user’s potential return on investment (ROI). This can be established by a detailed cost analysis that compares current use and expenses to the results that can be achieved through upgrading equipment and integrating technology. And the results aren’t limited strictly to energy savings:
These examples of ROI are significant whether your customers occupy large commercial office buildings, health-care clinics, restaurants and hotels or even manufacturing facilities. There are many areas to cover beyond security, so be prepared to discuss how other technology is intertwined to help produce greater ROI.
The first step is to show your customers the potential savings by conducting a thorough cost analysis. When surveying, you should look at everything from air handlers and chillers, to irrigation and what types of lighting are currently in place. Be sure to also include details like switching to LED lighting, and updating compressors and chillers, and show the total potential cost savings.
As noted, buildings waste a lot of energy. Simply propping a door open can cause the automation system to go into overdrive, pumping out air and creating significant energy waste. The ROI on building automation can sometimes free up money for other projects, while enhancing technology, comfort and security. This can be a game-changer for customers in the budget-conscious education, health-care and government markets.
“IoT allows facility managers the ability to remotely monitor and manage devices,” says Martens. “These ‘no tour’ capabilities of devices can save valuable time and money, in addition to providing proactive real-time monitoring of critical building systems.”
Detailed Communication Can Help Curb Concerns
As with any new technology, there will be those customers or personnel who are hesitant to embrace the change. For instance, the IT director may have concerns about putting all their eggs in one software basket. When a building is fully automated and networked, a failure in one area can cause failure in others. There may also be network bandwidth limitations that will have to be addressed to handle the amount of data that will be collected and shared between the various components of an automated system.
Helping to create and grow the relationship between the CIO and the facility manager is also crucial to the successful adoption of the IoT moving forward, says Martens. “Assisting the CIO in understanding physical security, and bridging the knowledge gaps for the facility manager with smart device technologies will be a key differentiator for successful dealers and integrators as the industry inevitably moves to a more IoT-centric mindset,” he says.
Concerns can usually be alleviated through detailed communication and concrete information about how the building’s systems can live side-by-side and how integration can benefit the customer in the long run. The most important thing is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to voice those concerns at the beginning of the planning process.
Impact Already Felt in Security Sector
So when will this new technology impact the security industry? The simple answer is that it already has.
“We are already seeing a significant number of industrial grade IoT-enabled devices being embedded in commercial, multifamily and residential buildings,” says Martens. “The IoT has already attracted new entrants to our markets, and a blurring of traditional industry boundaries is making it more difficult to identify knowledgeable industry experts from opportunists in what many of us believe to be a mission-critical space.”
Just as clients can be overwhelmed by the amount of choice and complexity when selecting an access control system, they will need a good deal of advice and handholding to automate the systems in their facility. As always, earning the respect and trust of clients will be vital to your long-term success.
“It is important that providers and integrators understand that the IoT is not represented just by connected devices,” says Martens. “It is the collective experience delivered to an individual or group by combining a shared ecosystem of Internet-enabled smart devices. Think of it as a symphony that many devices can contribute to and just like any symphony, an experienced conductor becomes a critical element.”
Creating a connected system that allows every part of the building to share information results in maximum efficiency and, ultimately, real cost savings for the customer. Effectively sharing that vision with customers creates new business opportunities beyond access control in every building.
The IoT has only just begun to influence the way we live our lives. In time, the technology will be incorporated into every aspect of our world, from traffic lights to coffee makers. Now is the time to foster strategic partnerships with building automation firms and manufacturers you can trust to help grow your business.”