Building managers, whether of a single unit, campus, or portfolio of buildings, have diverse needs in terms of energy, cost, and efficiency. Hong Kong’s 40,000 buildings not only consume 90% of the city’s electricity but require hours of manpower expended on routine building management tasks.
All these challenges are poised to be addressed by harnessing both the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing to reduce energy consumption, costs, and environmental impact.
Without requiring human input or interaction, the Internet of Things connects devices, objects—from machines to water pumps to cars—people, and even animals to each other via the cloud. Keiran Tai, CLP Smart Energy Connect’s App Dev Lead, explains that with IoT, "you can have access to real-time data on almost any piece of critical equipment which can save you time and money."
One crucial application for this can be found in buildings. Buildings require “intensive manual work,” notes Keiran, including continuous monitoring of facility conditions. A building manager and their staff day can be consumed with inspections, temperature checks, equipment checks, moisture control, alarm settings, security breaches, and more. Doing all this manually is not only time consuming, but it requires staff to do repetitive and often reactive tasks rather than spending time on forward planning and prevention.
"Imagine, with the Internet of Things, you can actually tap into everything. Imagine those sensors send data automatically to a system in the cloud. You no longer have to go and take a manual temperature read. You just install a temperature sensor where you need it and automatically get a reading."
The same idea holds true for many other building management needs and issues. From checking locks to reviewing security footage, IoT coupled with data analytics and machine learning offers time savings and efficiency in addition to advanced capabilities, like behaviour analysis and predicting equipment failures for predictive maintenance.
Once breakdowns are noted and reported, machine learning and AI can help analyse behaviour and predict needs, allowing building managers to buy equipment before a replacement is needed, minimising purchasing delays, service interruptions, and unanticipated maintenance issues.
Keiran also notes the physical and financial strain of 24/7 monitoring is required by many buildings. “It’s exhausting. But technology can continuously process information automatically, and, if triggered, send an alert to your device, dramatically reducing human work.”
There is a growing number of standardised smart building solutions available in the market. However, if you have a need for a more specialised set of automation for your buildings, you may need to have a tailored system. One growing trend is to aggregate sensor and BMS data into a single data platform. Traditionally, these data platform systems have been on physical servers in buildings. However, there has been a shift in the adoption of cloud for many, and Building Management is no exception. “Do you buy a car—plus the insurance, maintenance, license, repairs, and risks—or take an Uber, which is worry-free and gets you the same result of getting to work?” Better yet is the analogy of travelling by air.
"If you want to fly, do you buy your own private jet, or do you buy a ticket from an established airline company and take advantage of their services?"
Leveraging a cloud technology platform will not only help you save costs on servers, storage and other computing equipment, but it also helps your teams to develop platforms faster as well. Cloud platforms come with a range of technology services that makes developing technology services much faster.
Storage is another area of saving. Buildings generate a large amount of data with sensors, taking measurements on a per second or per minute basis. Storing all of these on servers within your data center can become expensive since you have storage costs, backup costs, data retention rules, etc. With cloud computing storage, the storage is almost unlimited and you can grow and pay for only what you use. In addition, features such as back up and data retention can be managed automatically without any additional license costs.
To remain truly elastic, sharing computing resources makes the most sense. Big vendors like Microsoft, Google or Amazon house massive data centres with plenty of extra capacity, so that when customers want more, it’s readily available. They can carry this vast excess because their risks of it going unused are quite low. All this means that for general users, capacity is essentially unlimited and can scale with business growth seamlessly and without long waits.
The biggest cloud vendors, including AWS, Google, and Microsoft, have all made major sustainability commitments towards addressing the climate crisis. Their goals include 100% carbon neutrality, carbon negative operations, and consuming 100% renewable energy. An investment in cloud vendors supports these kinds of robust sustainability goals and leadership, which carries massive global impact.
The team at CLP Innovation is dedicated to delivering digital services to benefit organisations and their people. Our flagship digital platform, Smart Energy Connect (SEC), harnesses the collective power, security, and cost effectiveness of cloud computing and the Internet of Things into an end-to-end energy management service. SEC helps customers to fulfil their digital energy demands, enhance their operational model, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Smart Energy Connect Buildings can:
Employees, customers, and communities all benefit from enhanced wellbeing when organisations optimise energy efficiency with minimal environmental impact.