Currently, the property sector faces major challenges in terms of energy use and energy management. One solution to get this under control can be digitalisation.
Digitalisation is in full swing
Tenants and property managers expect more digital ways of working – and things are moving fast. It can be challenging, but digitisation is by no means impossible. More than 80% of common property problems can be solved digitally remotely, saving money, and customer and employee frustration, reducing stress, improving the working environment and reducing travel and time: more satisfied tenants, a better climate and reduced costs. According to a study by Ericsson, Kiona and Arthur D. Little, cost reductions resulting from digitalising property management can amount to 13% of the annual gross value. On top of this are the costs that property owners can address early before they become severe or high failures occur.
IoT – a tool for digitalisation
IoT, the Internet of Things, is an enabler. IoT can be used to digitise physical assets, creating smarter buildings and smarter management of a property portfolio. IoT enables property managers and owners to collect data and insights from sensors and control systems to optimise operations, reduce costs and improve the tenant experience. Complementing this with connected cameras can increase security for both employees and tenants.
More efficient property management
IoT devices such as smart thermostats and innovative lighting systems allow property managers to monitor and collect data remotely. Data can be used to control the building’s systems through real-time AI calculations. Data can thus be used to optimise energy consumption, reduce emissions and even improve the indoor environment, making it easier to maintain a more comfortable and safe environment for tenants, optimised according to real-life conditions.
Digitalisation can improve the tenant experience. By using real-time data where utilisation rates, indoor temperature and air quality are used to control, property managers can quickly identify and fix problems. Smart home systems can also give tenants more control over their living environment.
New technologies enable preventive maintenance, using data from sensors and devices to identify potential faults in equipment before they occur, known as predictive maintenance. This helps to reduce maintenance costs and extend the life of building systems, reducing the need for emergency repairs. Predictive maintenance can avoid routine maintenance, and resources can be deployed when needed.
A smart building can monitor and control energy use, optimise its energy consumption and reduce its carbon footprint, all in real-time. Smart energy management systems can help property owners identify areas where energy is wasted and use the data to implement measures to reduce energy consumption in real time. This is an area where AI can help, as it can act much faster than manual monitoring.
IoT technologies provide property managers with data that can be analysed to gain insights into building performance and tenant behaviour and also analyse external conditions such as weather forecasts and electricity prices. These insights can be used to make data-driven decisions that optimise property operations, improve tenant experience and increase property value. By connecting buildings with smart solutions, large amounts of data can be collected and action taken. This sounds very interesting, but how do you choose the right technical solution?
Different Routes to Connectivity
If we want to collect temperature data, we need a sensor that measures temperature. This sensor needs to communicate with the outside world in some way. Here we can choose a solution that connects via cable, or we can choose a wireless solution.
If we want to choose a wireless solution, there are a couple of ways to go:
– We can build our wireless network in the building that connects to the outside world via a central gateway. Popular technologies include LoRaWAN, which can send data from a sensor for ten years without changing batteries.
– We can use WiFi, a well-known technology that is hindered by building materials and unsuitable for sensors as it consumes a lot of power. The latter is a problem if the goal is to minimise maintenance or reduce energy consumption.
– We can use mobile networks. There are also low-power products that, like LoRaWAN, can run for years on battery power. However, a problem in more modern buildings can be the need for indoor coverage, which is a challenge in energy-dense buildings.
Mobile networks a coming trend
If you’re about to build a wireless network in your building, new technologies allow you to build indoor 5G coverage that works with all operators. This is known as ‘mobile first’, meaning you can opt out of WiFi and build 5G coverage instead. By connecting base stations, known as ‘spots’, to the building’s fixed network, you can build 5G coverage that can serve sensors, surveillance cameras, phones or mobile network routers.
This is an exciting alternative to WiFi networks or LoRaWAN networks that are now rapidly gaining a foothold in the Swedish market. 5G is an inclusive standard, a standard that suits many needs. 5G is the most flexible and powerful standard we have ever seen. This is the only standard that can cover many needs while addressing different use cases with cutting-edge technology. Building indoor 5G networks allows you to build wireless networks that consume less power than previous mobile networks. Indoor coverage also reduces the power consumption of each connected device – a mobile phone, computer or sensor. Indoor 5G provides access to new services that can be offered to tenants and better coverage and performance. Compared to WiFi, you get a much easier network to connect the devices to. All your tenants or visitors need is a SIM card from a regular operator.
With indoor coverage for 5G, installing IoT solutions will be much faster, a definite bonus. Sensors that connect directly to mobile networks will be easy to install. Thus, 5G can reduce the threshold for getting started with IoT when it is available everywhere. As you can see, many additional benefits of indoor coverage will increase the property’s attractiveness, contribute to a better climate and lead to faster achievement of our goals of lower costs and reduced climate impact on your agenda.
This article was first published in Swedish in “Aktuella byggen”