Why Dubai’s smart city vision must start with smart buildings

Smart buildings are a microcosm of smart cities, and must be mastered first if the wider goal of achieving a connected city is to materialise, the BICSI MEA audience heard today.

Speaking at the two-day conference, titled ‘A Connected World,’ Limor Schafman, who heads up the Telecommunication Industry Association’s (TIA) smart building initiative, highlighted the importance of connected buildings in achieving this vision.

“People used to define smart buildings as those that have a few sensors and an automated HVAC system – but this is simply not the case,” she said. “Our plan is to create smart buildings that are next-gen IoT ready, supporting a network that is both robust and 5G enabled. The buildings will also be able to handle video streams and virtual reality.”

But it won’t just be consumers that benefit from smart buildings, said Schafman. “Building operators will be able to leverage intelligence from integrated, data rich systems within the building, that will allow them to optimise operations and understand on a granular level what is happening,” she said.

TIA’s Smart Buildings Program seeks to redefine intelligent buildings to ensure proper interoperation and future proofing of communications, IoT platforms and building management systems. The program is developing guidelines, specification and standards as needed to facilitate the ecosystem. It is already anticipated that the smart buildings marketplace will see significant growth from an estimated $7.24 billion in 2017 to an anticipated $32 billion in 2022.

“By building a common framework and language, TIA hopes to contribute the foundation of that market growth,” she said. “Smart buildings and the deployment of next generation networks can accelerate the development of smart municipalities, particularly highly sophisticated buildings, which are microcosms of smart communities.”

BICSI president Jeff Beavers, has tipped Dubai to be at the forefront of the smart city evolution. “The UAE’s leadership can see the bigger picture and the overarching vision here, and seem to be working collaboratively towards the same goal,” he said. “With regards to smart city developments, I think Dubai could be the model that the world follows in the coming years.”

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