Built Environment: Page 7 of 10

Wed, 2015-10-28 22:49 -- Jon DeKeles
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Security and privacy

Of the three universal security and privacy targets, one needs extra discussion.

Publish privacy rules. It’s important to remember that information coming from buildings is often extremely sensitive. Consider occupancy sensors, which could reveal when high-value merchandise is unguarded. Or consider energy usage – should that be shared to help the city analyze its energy efficiency targets? Or consider public buildings that use video surveillance to record comings and goings. In what circumstances can the videos be viewed and by whom? In short, be sure to consider your city’s built environment when planning your citywide privacy policies.

Data management

Our universal data management target deserves emphasis for the built environment.

Create and adhere to a citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy. The information that can be gleaned from buildings is invaluable for city goals such as energy efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, economic development, transit planning and land use planning. It is crucial that your built environment initiatives adhere to a careful data architecture so that information can flow seamlessly as needed.

Computing resources

Local governments are typically responsible for many buildings – everything from jails to public swimming pools to sewage treatment facilities to bus barns and city hall itself. Of the four universal targets in this section, two deserve emphasis.

Consider a cloud computing framework. A few years ago, only the biggest buildings could cost-justify a top-of-the-line building management system. And until recently, only a few large property owners could afford a system to oversee a whole portfolio of buildings in different neighborhoods or even different cities.

Today, thanks to cloud computing, these advanced capabilities are affordable and widely available. Cloud computing gives access to:

  • High-powered computers
  • Sophisticated software
  • Expert staff
  • 24x7 staffing and monitoring
  • Redundant backup
  • Advanced security, both cyber and physical

Instead of financing a huge data center and staffing it with specialists, a city can often simply rent all the hardware and software power it needs via the cloud.

Have access to a central GIS. A robust geographic information system (GIS) is invaluable for many city functions related to buildings, including maintenance, public works, parks, building codes, planning and many more. The information you glean about your buildings becomes much more powerful when located on a map.


Below we explain how the four universal analytics targets apply to the built environment.

Achieve full situational awareness. Situational awareness has two aspects in the built environment. The first is awareness of individual buildings (or collections of buildings). Today’s systems can monitor and display every important parameter. They can even be programmed to alert operators when conditions go out of bounds. Building managers can quickly spot problems and dispatch resources to restore functionality. In some cases, problem identification and resolution can be automated, or even predictive, so that problems are resolved before they cause damage.

Achieve operational optimization. The ultimate goal of a smart building, is to have everything running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Smart buildings use analytics to ensure that a building’s resource usage is efficient. And with the power of analytics, buildings can optimize their conditions to ensure the continued health, productivity and comfort of occupants.

Achieve asset optimization. Sophisticated asset management software can calculate which buildings should be replaced or repaired and when.

Pursue predictive analytics. Unexpected equipment failures can take a toll on maintenance budgets; so can work stoppages caused by equipment failures. Predictive maintenance uses analytics to predict which building equipment is close to failure so it can be repaired or replaced before it fails.