Building smart and people-friendly

Urban Life 18 June 2018 Shonn Mills

Smart technology is revolutionising the way buildings can adapt to and optimise the way we work, live and play.

Expert columns
6 mins

You walk into your office building. Interactive cameras (CCTVs) and the intelligent use of technology ensure seamless access throughout the day. 

The elevator automatically takes you to the floor where your desk is. When you arrive, the light is regulated to become a bit warmer or cooler – just the way you like it. And when you go to one of the flex rooms to do an important presentation, the temperature there also automatically adjusts to your needs – thus improving your productivity. 

All over the world there is a growing demand to integrate technology into the built environment. Entrepreneurs and companies are becoming increasingly aware of the ways technology can enhance the energy efficiency of their assets – as well as the working environment – to reduce overheads, increase productivity and improve staff retention. 

This emerging design discipline, known as ‘smart buildings’, encompasses more than software analytics and new technologies. It integrates design, mechanical and electrical building systems, sustainability and management consulting.

Singapore is a front runner 

Singapore is a frontrunner in the building digitalisation movement – fuelled by countrywide initiatives like Singapore’s Smart Nation, which encourages the use of new and innovative technology in buildings. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies are changing the way we work and live at an incredible rate. We are designing and developing buildings today that will have a design life of 50-100 years. With the accelerating change effect of technology, it’s an interesting challenge to try and create building solutions that will stay viable and relevant over the life of the asset.

This requires engineers and designers to acquire new skill-sets. Integrating smart technology into buildings increases efficiency and creates a new level of adaptability and space customisation that improves the user experience overall. 

Tall buildings should be designed as platforms to take full advantage of the latest and future smart technology. Thousands of smart sensors feed data to the integrated building management systems to allow the building to be adapted and optimised for improved energy efficiency, safety and security.

Smart investment pays off 

It is important to emphasise that there should be proper communication between all parties, so that everyone understands why the data is being collected and used. 

New digital solutions integrated with a building’s architecture can heighten comfort and productivity for building users as well as create new experiences and opportunities for collaboration. 

There is, of course, a premium to pay for implementing these solutions. But Ramboll carries out a cost-benefit analysis to ensure the payback period is within client expectations. This analysis also uncovers potential commercial benefits for our clients, as they can get more for their leases when their buildings are innovative and competitive – with a more efficient working environment.

Ramboll has made a number of significant wins in Singapore in this new field. We have been appointed as a specialist smart buildings consultant to advise on integrating new technology with architectural and traditional building disciplines.

One of our clients, Chief Operating Officer Schirin Taraz from Woha Architects says: “Woha sees digital solutions as a new frontier in the built environment. We carefully consider and incorporate smart technology into our new projects, where appropriate. Ramboll is one of our preferred smart building consultants and we use them to help us select the right technology for our projects to develop exciting bespoke integrations and new end-user experiences.”


Singapore as a digital twin

As the first country in the world, Singapore is creating a full 3D digital replica of the entire country, with data on everything from the rocks underground to traffic on the streets.
This digital twin city, an advanced version of Google Maps, enables users to look into buildings and beneath them and visualise how wind flows between skyscrapers.

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