The Connected Building: Supporting IoT Ecosystems to Near-Endless Possibilities

Platform delivers location-based data to inspire ‘open development’ of custom solutions

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) means different things to different people. Whether you’re responsible for your company’s computer network, human resources, real estate, marketing, supply chain, etc., IoT offers exciting opportunities to up your game. There is a common denominator for success, however, which is two-fold: access to information, or data, and the ability to extract, analyze and use this data in ways that enhance your specific operations.

One IoT platform stands above all others for its ability to collect data from the physical environment and relay that data in such a way – via the cloud – so that it is both accessible and actionable. That platform is the lighting infrastructure of the connected building.

Once digitally connected, a building becomes an operating system and is transformed from a cost center to an operationally strategic asset. Sensors embedded in the lighting gain the advantage of the lighting network’s ubiquitous and reliable coverage to monitor real-time activity within the space, producing robust location data. The data from those sensors is then sent to the cloud, where in many cases it’s fully user-ready.  Desktop dashboards and mobile applications can then be used to display data to many different users – even in real time – to provide decision support to operations. Even deeper insights can be generated through advanced analytics and by the cross-pollination of data sources. 

This treasure trove of data has given rise to numerous in-house or, most often, third-party resources ready to deploy packaged and custom applications. By engaging these solution providers, building or business managers can mine and make extraordinary use of the location-based data captured via connectivity and analyzed collectively toward their end goal. In fact, applications have evolved to the point of changing an organization’s entire value stream as companies explore new uses for location-based data.

For example, today’s Millennials call for seamless and engaging experiences that only ubiquitous connectivity can provide. Attracting this demographic as employees or customers requires speaking their language and providing them with tools for making their lives digitally fluid. As another example, building owners rely on the connected building to manage their physical spaces, reduce operating costs, develop new products and services, and promote a more productive workforce. And, retailers, airports, hotels, hospitals, etc., are finding new ways to connect with their visitors and improve the overall on-site experience.

Third-party application developers have come to rely on the type of data provided by the connected building to increase their own value in the IoT ecosystem. The location-aware data captured through the physical infrastructure and delivered digitally bridges the gap to what often appears abstract. Real metrics on traffic patterns, relative positions, speed, etc., are harvested; real business decisions are made.

This trend has created a type of “open-development” IoT community, freeing business managers to focus on their business while niche-market software developers apply their industry expertise. Whether it’s through single applications or more comprehensive technologies integrated with a client’s existing resources, the “new” IoT development community is able, through the connected building, to harness an unprecedented level and depth of information to help clients solve unique business problems or pursue unique business opportunities.

About the Author 

Brian Harrison is Vice President of Business Development, Atrius Partner Solutions at Acuity Brands, Inc.  Brian has been developing, selling, and deploying technology across multiple verticals for 25 years.  He has spent his career helping clients select and utilize these solutions to address busines requirements, solve issues, and take advantage of strategic opportunities.  Brian is currently focused on developing and evolving the Atrius partner ecosystem to support the delivery of location-aware software solutions. 

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