view from top of open office

In recent years, tech companies like IBM have begun talking up the concept of the “smart building”, where staff use cutting-edge software to automate every aspect of operations. This piece aims to provide a glimpse into a not-so-distant future when smart building technology could start becoming the norm.

Rachel the Recruiting Coordinator and Building Access

Rachel is a recruiting coordinator for Acme Corporation based at its San Francisco office. It’s 2020, and her division recently moved from a 1980s-vintage skyscraper at the Financial District to a modern building in South of Market. The real-estate company didn’t have to do much convincing during the lease negotiations. Designed with the local tech community in mind, the tower sports modern working spaces and state-of-the-art building automation systems. Acme’s employees have seen a number of major changes in their routines since settling into the new location.

Rachel comes into the office three days a week and spends the rest working remotely. On those three days, she doesn’t have to carry key cards around like in her division’s old office. She only needs her phone. The handset has been assigned virtual access credentials by the building’s access control system that allow it to communicate with the badge readers at the lobby. Then once she reaches the floor leased by her division, another virtual key provided by her company lets Rachel get into her office. She can coast through security every morning without worrying about whether she forgot a key card at home. And the building management staff rests easier as well knowing that there’s less room for things to go wrong.

Dan the Security Operations Director and Video Surveillance 

Dan heads security operations in the tower where Acme’s San Francisco office is based. His work is much simpler than that of his peers’ over at the division’s old home. Lobby credentials assigned to people like Rachel are managed by a cloud-based access control platform that keeps everything centralized, which lets Dan’s team quickly respond to incidents like device theft. The staffer on call can delete the credentials in a handset with a few simple clicks should the need arise.

It’s one of several technological perks available in the team’s digitized control room. Dan also has the ability to disable workers’ lobby credentials outside of business hours, which helps meet the security expectations of tenants like Acme. Similar restrictions apply to the private cleaning crew contracted by the building management.

Yet even with this stringent perimeter control, there’s still the risk of someone gaining unauthorized access. In response, the real-estate company has installed cameras in the lobby to look out for intrusions. The footage goes through an analytics system in Dan’s control room that uses machine learning technology to identify suspicious activity. Visitors entering the building at an unusual time, dangerous items and potential signs of break-in are all flagged automatically by its algorithms. As a result, human error is taken out of the loop while the security personnel can spend their time on more productive tasks than staying glued to their monitors all day long.

The technologies highlighted in this brief story are already available today. Hitachi and several other companies offer analytics software that can automatically spot anomalies in surveillance footage. The access control system, meanwhile, is based entirely on features provided by Genea.

In the same spirit, we recently added the ability to access Genea’s administrative controls from Slack. Administrative staff can open a door from the chat interface when a user asks to enter a building and receive alerts about important events like blocked entry attempts. These integrations and the other conveniences that are available in the cloud eliminate many of the chores that have historically bogged down property managers’ work.

Image below from BlueApp IO:

smart building

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