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“Just five years ago, the amount of data collected in buildings globally was 1.2 zettabytes. For perspective, consider that in 2009 the entire World Wide Web was estimated to contain close to just half a zettabyte.” states a new report from Memoori The Internet of Things in Smart Commercial Buildings 2016 to 2021.

Smart Cities and Smart Buildings already make up a large proportion of the connected devices in the world today, and this trend will only grow. Smart homes currently hold a greater number of installed devices, but commercial real estate is expected to take over by 2021. “By 2021 we predict that a higher growth rate in the Commercial Real Estate market of 31.5% CAGR will see this sector grow to represent 34% of overall smart building devices, with over 3.6 billion devices installed by 2021,” says our report.

Turning to which devices are most commonly connected, the rates for several devices types are steadily improving, with video equipment, access control systems and BAS leading the way. Although not all devices that are currently connected are necessarily being used to provide data to the Building Internet of Things (BIoT), improved connectivity facilitates their usage as part of any future BIoT projects.

The report’s research suggests that more than half (54%) of all video equipment in buildings is now connected. The vast majority of video data is being used for security functions, but other applications are emerging. Security cameras, for example, are being used to measure occupancy and people flow, they are even supporting HVAC systems and energy optimisation by identifying areas of excess or insufficient heat caused by leaks or poor flow. The increase in video data is, however, creating a challenge for BIoT infrastructure.

“Video data is by its very nature unstructured, and difficult to process through traditional data processing applications. Significant amounts of processing power and sophisticated video analytics software is required to effectively mine and derive actionable intelligence from the data that security systems are producing,” explains our report.

This unstructured nature combined with the weight of information has encouraged edge based processing to reduce data transfer load for connected video equipment. Simultaneously, video derived data is also heavily dependant on cloud based storage where large volumes can be stored, cost-effectively and securely, at dedicated server facilities, allowing users to archive video over long periods whilst still remaining accessible.

Connected video equipment is proving increasingly useful within a BIoT context and therefore is likely to increase further. The challenges it brings forth may hold back growth slightly but also act as a driving force for BIoT infrastructure, developing edge processing and cloud based storage along with data transfer.

The research also shows that 33% of access control systems are now connected, providing a multitude of advantages for buildings wishing to combine security with ease or speed of entry. In addition, such advanced access control systems allow for permission to be granted based on status or temporal reasons, giving different access to different people, at different times, or for limited periods.

“Access control in IoT is also increasingly driven by mobility, allowing users to control access as well as other networked devices through the mobile device, that is to say using your phone as the credential to open or close doors within a building,” explains the report.

The growth in connected access control devices is held back somewhat by concerns over security, where cyber-infiltration of a building’s access control system may have serious repercussions for the building and its inhabitants. As the sector grows, fail-safes and tripwire analytics are developing to address those concerns.

As one of the most densely distributed elements within the built environment, lighting provides an ideal platform for gathering essential data about what is happening in the workplace and across the enterprise. Our research shows that 29% of lighting systems are now considered connected and this figure is set to grow significantly as the ongoing transition to LED illumination continues.

“Historically a lack of standardization has meant lighting control systems have been largely proprietary and non-interoperable, increasing costs, and making them difficult to install and reconfigure. As with other systems, a migration towards open communications protocols and IP addressable devices will be required to fully exploit the potential benefits of the BIoT and lighting systems integration,” our report suggests.

As we continue our path towards greater deployment and expansion of BIoT systems, standardization and open communication are becoming commonplace. In addition, BIoT infrastructure such as edge based processing and cloud based storage along with data transfer, are keeping pace with applications that demand greater connectivity. We are quickly moving towards a stage where we ask “what is left to connect?” rather than “what is still to connect?” in the world of BIoT.

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