Bricks, Data and Mortar:
It’s Time to Build In the Intelligence

When the modern office first appeared, it was a factory for white collar workers: a big box where people could sit and process information, on paper, in files, by person and by phone. As the digital era has reshaped everything about our world and our work, so it’s become clear we need to revisit some of the assumptions about the shape of the buildings where people congregate. And it’s not just offices. Today, wherever there are people, there is data that could be better served by the buildings or assets people are using.

The next generation of building design will take place in an era marked by artificial intelligence. This promises to take data and turn it into incredibly responsive services and experiences. Yet to date, the built environment industry has been slow to understand the implications, and slower to spot the opportunities. Too often buildings’ IT packages are more of an after-thought, something to fit in, not an opportunity to be seized.

Change is coming. Developers are increasingly asking about the data performance and features of the buildings they fund. They know users, tenants will demand flexibility, and that buildings that can’t change purpose and performance are less valuable over the long haul. There are implications for design. It means the data, sensor, intelligence aspects of an asset must be considered right at the start, no longer viewed as a final stage ‘cabling issue’.

Consumer technology has already commoditized much of the I.T. required, meaning cost isn’t prohibitive. The real challenge is integrating data and AI in a flexible, intelligent way, that generates real value for developers, owners, tenants and users. As new buildings, like the fittingly titled ‘White Collar Factory’ in London’s Shoreditch set new standards for responsiveness, environmental control, connectivity and future flexibility, demand for this approach to intelligent buildings is likely to build quickly.

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