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Wireless Apps will Transform the Smart Building Market

Automation in commercial buildings has focused on four sectors: HVAC, lighting, access control, plus fire and life safety. Now, new applications in space management, environmental monitoring, asset management, and cleanliness & hygiene management are being offered to enhance existing building automation systems.

Together, these new smart building solutions will grow at a 32 percent CAGR over the next 8 years to create $2 billion in software and services revenues by 2026, according to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research.

Smart Building Market Development

Space management solutions are being created and engineered with a variety of sensors, including contact, motion, and occupancy. Typically implemented into office buildings, new space management solutions are becoming more useful in significantly larger commercial buildings, such as airports or stadiums.

"Occupancy and motion sensors can be used to help improve the speed in which travelers can maneuver themselves through the airport. Real-time insights mean that managers can deploy staff as needed to relevant areas of the building," said Harriet Sumnall, research analyst at ABI Research.

Environmental monitoring consists of sensors that are monitoring noise levels, air quality, and natural lighting systems. These solutions enable the ability to see real-time conditions of areas within buildings and monitor the conditions in each room to improve overall occupant wellness and comfort.

Asset management solutions are becoming increasingly important within specific commercial buildings, especially healthcare entities. The use of asset management solutions helps hospitals improve their inventory management, lower operational costs, and automate the clinical inventory processes.

Cleanliness and hygiene management is a newer solution for the smart building market. Georgia Pacific (GP) and Kimberly Clarke offer intelligent systems to run restrooms more efficiently. For example, GP’s restocking solutions use sensors that send alerts when soap and paper dispensers are running low.

"Their biggest value comes from a reduction in labor costs through cleaning optimization and higher customer satisfaction by reducing stock-outs," says Ms. Sumnall.

The current HVAC, lighting, access control, and fire and life safety solutions combine to create the core applications of Building Management Systems (BMS) offered by market leaders, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Signify, and Siemens.

However, as the smart building market evolves, the ecosystem is no longer limited to the traditional BMS vendors. Now it includes the OEMs of consumables and construction materials adding complementary IoT solutions.

Outlook for Smart Building Applications Growth

The more important competitive dynamic to recognize is that newer suppliers, most with wireless communication offerings, can more easily sell into the untapped market of older and smaller buildings. Smart building technology vendors are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomena.

That said, this won’t necessarily change the focus of the traditional BMS vendors. However, their competitiveness will be greatly diminished if their systems are not interoperable with IoT-based solutions from these newer smart building technology suppliers.

"In this more complex supplier market with more applications, interoperability will be what differentiates all market participants, concludes Ms. Sumnall.

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