Over the last couple of decades, Dubai has made a distinct mark on the world stage. Once famous for creating headlines with world firsts such as man-made islands and indoor ski slopes, the city is now pursuing targets that are much more powerful in their social and environmental impact. Dubai has laid out a policy-driven framework and vision to emerge as the global leader in smart infrastructure, which will set the premium standard in livability and public services.
Making this transition will require buildings in the city to be proactive in embracing the latest innovations and technologies. From delivering outstanding occupant experiences, flexible workspaces, and cutting-edge retail outlets, to meeting stringent sustainability targets and competitive operating costs, the challenges are complex and the demands multifaceted.
Deploying technology to enhance occupant experiences within existing buildings can immediately upgrade them to rival the performance of buildings that are designed to offer smart features and capabilities from the outset. Recent innovations make this possible, with the addition of IoT and AI technology-based software platforms.
Digital retrofits, which involve hooking up existing building automation to the command and control of an AI-enabled software platform, are a means to upgrade the occupant experiences and sustainability performance one can derive from existing infrastructure. A city in which services are hyper-personalized, and amenities are accessible at the touch of a smart device, can hardly be compatible with buildings that don’t reflect that same seamless and real-time functionality.
Linking the issues to be overcome, with the survival toolkit that will help provide solutions, helps paint a picture: Current automation systems are siloed. They operate at the level of individual buildings and offer very little value. Using IoT tech to connect siloed automation systems and moving to unified portfolio-wide operations can gather data from existing systems to create the basis for real-time analysis. The “experience economy” is the future and the simplest way to add value to real estate operations. AI-based analysis can empower existing assets to respond to occupant needs in real-time.
To create smart cities, hundreds of proprietary devices need to be supplied by dozens of vendors. Enterprise-scale software platforms are the agnostic unifier commercial real estate needs to integrate all existing technologies and automation.
Buildings cannot be optimized using legacy solutions that are inflexible and unable to evolve along with the industry. The solutions of the future need to provide complete visibility into operations across asset performance, energy usage, maintenance costs, and end-user comfort. The era of ad-hoc arrangements and half-measures is over.
As a feature of the Expo 2020 site, Siemens, the event’s Infrastructure Digitalization Partner, is connecting, monitoring and managing functions across 137 buildings, using the “Siemens Navigator” cloud-based energy analytics platform. In October 2018 the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Smart University (HBMSU) launched a Smart building in Dubai, which will provide students and future administrators with a means to gain real-world familiarity with such emerging technologies.
Overlaying digital technologies onto physical systems will allow buildings to mimic the strengths of software-based systems. Part of the reason why end-user expectations of service models have evolved so rapidly is the ease with which apps and software are able to respond to feedback and demand. The modern consumer wants the lines blurred, between the convenience of their virtual and physical experiences provide. In the context of real estate, buildings need to take on the same agile, innovative and constantly evolving character that software is able to.
In the past, it was easy to see digital tools as being separate from the physical experience of the world. As a touch, voice, and gesture become the interface, physical and digital experiences will overlap and complement each other. Humanity is at the cusp of a new era of human interaction with technology, and future-ready buildings will need to deliver intuitive experiences that reflect this.