Interview: Siemens Smart Infrastructure head outlines smart buildings opportunities

AV integrators are well placed to play a larger part in delivering building technology and the growth of smart buildings offers the perfect way to get a foot in the door.

However, in many cases the integration community must look beyond their perceived boundaries in order to take advantage of the opportunities available. 

In an interview this interview, Tim Kridel tackles that barrier when he finds out more about Siemens’ offerings and the company’s outlook on this market when he speaks with Marjut Rautavaara, Siemens Smart Infrastructure head of buildings. 

TK: How is Covid-19 changing the smart building market? For example, there seems to be a lot of interest in smart building systems to monitor and improve the health of both buildings (e.g., air quality) and the people inside (e.g., cameras that detect when someone has a fever). What types of technologies and business opportunities are you seeing/hearing about? 

MR: Occupant behaviour is the most crucial factor in the fight against Covid-19 and maintaining the distance between people is the primary method of protection. To do that, IoT sensors and building management systems are supporting the facility managers or building operators to take right actions. Siemens products that cover these topics include multifunctional IoT sensors from Enlighted and the Siemens Siveillance Suite.

Covid-19 lockdowns have increased demand for remote services and digital service offerings which are offered by cloud solutions. The Siemens remote services portfolio comprises the Desigo CC BMS, Building Operator, or Siemens cRSP (Siemens Common Remote Service Platform).

Often preventing the spread of infection depends on indoor air quality components. Tracking, controlling, and purifying air quality becomes more critical. That increases the demand for indoor air quality sensors such as humidity, CO2, PM2.5, and VOC. Examples of our solutions are Desigo room automation or Symaro sensors.

There is a growing demand for integrated workplace applications.  With the workplace applications, features such as touchless personalised room operation, or monitor workplace occupancy for density, and safe distancing become a part of the building control systems. We’ve just announced that we are rolling out our own Comfy workplace app in the Siemens premises worldwide to protect our employees and assure their safe return to work. At the same time, we’re paving the way for the mobile digitised workplace of the future.

Individual industries require special applications. For instance, in life science, pressure-controlled rooms are becoming more common as they provide significant advantages for isolating Covid-19 patients. Obviously, reducing the spread of viruses is the most significant benefit to hospitals and laboratories. This is mostly application-based: certified life science specific applications (laboratories, fume hoods, Air Interlocking System, room pressure control) based for instance on the Siemens Desigo building automation; Desigo CC;  or our intelligent air valves.

TK: A lot of different types of contractors are pursuing the smart building market, including electrical, HVAC, IT and AV. What types of skills and certifications do contractors need to be successful in the smart building market? 

MR: Connectivity, adaptability and leveraging data are key. It is important to have strong integration skills across different systems and protocols, use powerful and flexible technologies and have the knowledge to create value from the collected data.

Security is an important and a huge IoT concern when “everything” is connected.  While connectivity is very important for smart buildings, vulnerability assessment skills, hardware and software security, and data security skills are critical. 
UX: End user and mobile apps are getting more important therefore user experience knowhow is a must. Using domain know-how, adjusted software user interface to existing demands and requirements of customer is crucial to offer best in class software. 

Analytics and data science expertise is rising and know-how on data collection and analysis are crucial to manage, optimise, and automate environmental and operational aspects of a smart building.

Certifications: As with any specialised industry and disciplines, ensure that local regulations and certifications are adhered to.  IT/OT concepts have traditionally been separated from each other, however, the lines between the two and their respective responsibilities are blurring, so new skills and technical certifications are needed to cover both. 

TK: What types of network technologies (e.g., Wi-Fi, Zigbee, BACnet) are currently used for connecting smart building devices? Which ones will be added in the future (e.g., 5G)?

MR: These are the technologies currently in use (bold = most popular):

• Building product protocols: BACNET, MODUBS, KNX, M-BUS, SNMP, Dali
• Interfaces for collecting data from buildings: Ethernet, Zigbee, Wifi, Bluetooth
• Cloud connectivity: https, Websocket, MQTT
• Telecommunication: 3G, 4G, 5G coming soon

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