Living in the digital jungle

The positive impact of IoT on FM

Nahla Nana is a strategic consultant with DREI of the Dubai Land Department
Nahla Nana is a strategic consultant with DREI of the Dubai Land Department

Over the last few years, the GCC region’s facilities management (FM) industry has made significant headway, a fact that can be attributed to the introduction of a bevy of new technologies.

Today, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), which is the network of physical objects or ‘things’ embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. It has been dubbed as the next wave of technology that drive advancement of the sector.

IoT has already started to make its presence felt. For example, IoT has already been deployed in ‘Smart Home Technology.’ It has also laid the initial foundations of what the real estate industry now refers to as the ‘Building Internet-of-Things’ (BIoT), an overlaying of an IP network that connects all the building services without human intervention.

In the FM segment, in particular, IoT has created new benchmarks in building maintenance and operation. For one, it has provided a platform enabling communication of previously inaccessible vital information. An IoT-enabled heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, for instance, can report whether its air filter is clean and functioning properly. With the available data at hand, effective and efficient scheduling of maintenance activities is now highly plausible.

This ability to collect and transfer data in a timely manner offers a more granular view of exactly how each building is performing. It results in a more fact-based decision making for facilities managers, thus saving more resources, costs and time. The insights that IoT provides can generate a number of actions that will help drive business productivity, a vital aspect to increase profitability.

Moreover, IoT is driving the FM industry towards new strategic approaches. Latest cleaning techniques, filtration, and other standards and requirements must be put in place accordingly. Developing plans to address future ethical and security concerns, especially those involving the storage of collected data, is one such issue that must be taken into consideration.

IoT has also given rise to the need for more technically savvy staff, with new technologies requiring people to work in more intelligent ways, so to speak. Deployment of regular training programs to update employee skills should go hand-in-hand with technology integration to maintain optimal level of business performance.

With respect to global sustainability movement, innovation plays an essential part as well by effectively reducing a significant amount of energy and fuel consumptions. Smarter products, systems and devices are becoming important tools in the fight against environmental impacts and efforts to reduce the consequences of human activities.

Remote monitoring, reduced human error and oversight, improved asset management and utilisation as well as predictive maintenance are some of the many benefits of IoT solutions. Aware of IoT’s advantages and how it supports the region’s move towards a knowledge-driven economy, the FM sector has already begun adopting its collaborative networking systems and automation capability.

The regional industry is expected to further reach new heights brought on by continuous rapid progress in intelligent technology such as near field communication sensors, smart surveillance, security applications and smart robots.

Needless to say, IoT’s impact and benefits on the market will be huge. It drives innovation as evidenced by how it propels the FM sector towards a new path of development. It is no surprise that many facilities managers are now rethinking their respective business models accordingly to take advantage of the significant prospects that IoT brings today and in the future.

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