Smart buildings encourage smart thinking at ISE

A full house of system integrators, consultants, AV equipment vendors and architects has been given plenty of food for thought at the inaugural ISE Smart Buildings conference.

The day long conference was chaired by Bob Snyder and included several excellent presentations from across the range of interests in smart buildings, from trade associations to the integrators themselves.

Geoff Meads from CEDIA Region 1 kicked off proceedings talking about the need for home builders to take much greater account of technology at the point of planning. In particular he emphasised the need for cabling infrastructure to be carefully planned. He also highlighted the role that smart homes in general will have to play in the care of Western Europe's ageing population. An average cost for a 24 hour stay in hospital is currently estimated at €1200, something which he argued will become unsustainable for public or private healthcare solutions in future forcing governments to look at solutions in the home, where smart technologies will be a key enabler.

Next up was Allan Weidman, InfoComm's Executive Director of STEP (sustainable technology environments program). He explained the program and also argued that the AV industry has the opportunity to take ownership of the design, installation and management of smart building technologies. The AV professional, he believes, is the only member of the multidisciplinary team who has the skillset to combine the various disparate technologies needed in a smart building as well as humanise them.

Arup's Graham Naylor-Smith argued that iconic design is no longer skin deep. It has to be about smart systems as well as beautiful buildings. He outlined the drivers for a change in building practices that he believes will finally see us make the transition to truly smart buildings. Something that Arup had originally predicted would have happened by now. The economy, the environment and technology are all factors contributing to the present transition. He also believes that AV professionals can succeed in the space thanks to their tendency to be early adopters, their ability to humanise technology and ability to combine different systems together. The success of a smart building, he suggested, depends on about ability to model appropriate scenarios of use.

Joost Brinkman of Accenture then presented the company's work on the Amsterdam Smart City project, giving a glimpse of the bigger picture outside smart rooms and smart buildings.

After the lunch break, Jon Melchin of FSR gave an insightful 101 presentation on building information management (BIM) and how it is revolutionise architectural practice. He also issued a warning that the AV industry is behind the curve on providing BIM information on its av products. 79% of design firms in the USA already use BIM systems, and the figure is growing globally too.

Lucy Martin from John Cullen Lighting showed off a mouthwatering portfolio of high end residential installations to make her point about the need for carefully programmed lighting control solutions to complement a property and avoid scaring off the customer. Properly design control should actually reduce the number of wall controls or panels required in a house as well as reducing the number of actions an owner needs to take to get what they want out of a system.

The final session of the day was a panel discussion featuring Michael Carter of AMX, Michael Goldman from Crestron, Koen Pepermans from Vantage EMEA and Paul Williams from Control4. The panelists engaged well with audience questions, and topics from the floor included interface design, the use of mobile devices as controllers as well as the security and suitability of the cloud and interoperability between vendors.