By Mark Story 06 June 2017

Extending well beyond the limits of a single tenancy, the smartest buildings will enable seamless and secure connectivity solutions in the future.

The internet has accelerated innovation and productivity levels. Courtesy of digital technology and mobile devices, today's companies can cost-effectively do business any time, any place, and anywhere.

But computers and mobile devices are no longer the only items that connect to the internet. When you consider the advent of wearable technology and environment sensors capable of generating and transmitting data, the number of things connected to the internet by 2020 is expected to have grown fourfold from around 6 billion in the early noughties to 28 billion.

Call it the internet of everything.

In 2017, capabilities supporting internet connected vehicles, insurance, personal wellness and smart buildings are expected to account for $34 billion in consumer spending within the Asia-Pacific region alone. That’s fantastic; everyone is progressively being connected to everything, as well as everyone, everywhere. The phenomenon has revolutionised the way we do business the world over.

However, better connectivity demands better security solutions from those responsible for developing tomorrow’s office spaces. Understanding the risks involved in exchanging confidential information across unsecure environments is paramount when data mobility and cybercrime are emerging in tandem, and in equal measure.

In an attempt to address lingering security issues around the seamless transfer of data – enabled by Wi-Fi coverage – while also future-proofing the workplace environment, there’s a move towards embedding wireless and IOT connectivity solutions within the built form.

smart buildings
Dexus is creating smart buildings in a move to embed connectivity infrastructure into commercial buildings.

Plug-and-play technology within bricks and mortar

In Australia’s capital cities it’s still rare to find offices with secure connectivity solutions embedded within the building itself. Office towers are no longer just about bricks and mortar says Chief Information Officer at Dexus, Mark Hansen, who expects these features to become ubiquitous within tomorrow’s best office buildings refits.

Dexus's 34-level development at 100 Mount Street, North Sydney will be part of Australia's move towards truly plug-and-play premium office towers when it’s completed in early 2019.

Similar connectivity technologies can also be embedded within a retro-fit.

Instead of working within the confines of their own tenancy, workplace connectivity can extend to car parks, the ground floor lobby, cafes and informal meeting areas to facilitate flexible working via a secure device.

The number of things connected to the internet by 2020 is expected to have grown fourfold from around six billion in the early noughties

Greater collaboration and employee wellbeing

“Embedding smart technology into the backbone of a building means employees have a choice of work spaces to operate in,” says Paul Oates, Dexus’s Head of Development.

Extending well beyond a single tenancy, Mr Oates says true internet connectivity enables people to work anywhere within the confines of an overall precinct, while remaining within a secure network.

“Equipping the entire precinct with its own secure Wi-Fi network means employees are not using unreliable public Wi-Fi, “Oates explains.

“Secure buildings means connectivity won’t drop out in the café or anywhere within the greater precinct.”

Another technology enabler that’s being used to help businesses understand and plan workplace utilisation includes the use of smart sensors to monitor the real-time occupancy of space within a building or tenancy.

Instead of setting and forgetting space within a tenancy, sensor technology – sharp enough to pick up presence and activity– allows meeting rooms and other underutilised rooms to be repurposed into more highly used areas to enhance the productivity of the tenancy.

Included among the different technologies that may also be utilised at 100 Mount Street and other future Dexus developments are facial recognition CCTV, voice activation of meeting rooms and video conferencing as well as intelligent lighting and room management systems.

“What we’re constantly trying to do is continually improve the ease with which our customers consume services,” says Oates.

“Ultimately, smart buildings will integrate with an individual tenancy, a home office, the local precinct and the city itself to create one seamlessly connected workplace.”

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