Towards more future-proof buildings
Published: June 24, 2020

admin | Article | 24 June, 2020

    Towards more future-proof buildings

    Jukka Salmikuukka, the Head of Ecosystem Business Development @ KONE Corporation speaks about smart and future-proof buildings.

    Singapore City Skyline. Image &copy KONE Corporation.

    Singapore City Skyline. Image © KONE Corporation.


    What is a smart building?

    The term smart building, very common these days, has been around already from the 80’s. The smart building concept involved especially an extensive use of elaborate centralized electronic systems to enable the control of building support and communication systems for voice and data. Since its invention, the main drivers for the smart buildings have been related to energy savings. This makes perfectly sense, as according to the United Nations Environment Program, buildings and their construction together account for 36 percent of global energy use and 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually. So, from global, national and individual building owner’s viewpoints, it makes sense to have rather “smart” than “dumb” buildings.

    Energy efficiency is still in many ways in the center of smart building concept, but today, it is not the only driver for the smart building trend. The experiences building provides to its users has become increasingly important factor, as the good end-user experience correlates with people’s productivity and well-being, and therefore also to the rental levels and ROI if you take the building owner’s view. Similar to eco-efficiency certificates like e.g. LEED, there is also a certification program called WELL focusing to the well-being and health of the building users. As well-being and its impact to for example into productivity may be sometimes bit difficult to quantify, WELL certificate provides framework for assessing various factors affecting to how well-functioning building is and how it supports the wellbeing of the building users.

    Connected Elevators. Image © KONE Corporation.

    Connected Elevators. Image © KONE Corporation.


    Achieving more future-proof buildings

    I must admit that even though I respect architecture and architects a lot, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Their customers, and the users of buildings – that would mean all of us, expect them to design aesthetic, energy-efficient, well-functioning buildings that create great experiences for the users and support their well-being. At the same time, buildings need to be increasingly multifunctional and strongly connected to the infrastructure and services around them: building might for example include residential, office and hotel spaces under the same roof and be in connection to underlying metro station and next-door shopping mall. This means that there are many different types of users with very different needs and expectations to be served.

    Smooth people flow experience is one of the most crucial elements of well-functioning building. All building users should be able to move smoothly, safely and without waiting in and between buildings. But especially when you have a complex, multi-functional building with various user groups, this is more easily said than done. Specialized experts focusing into people flow planning combine multi-disciplinary skillset all the way from user behavior and architecture into mathematical modelling and simulations to ensure the best possible People Flow experience in buildings in all situations and any time of the day. These experts can be a great help in ensuring that the design selections made at the drawing board are leading into best possible outcomes.

    Another aspect that make the design process of buildings very challenging is the increasing speed of technical development. From the moment large building project is on a drawing board it may take five years before the building is getting into the use. Five years is a long time to foresee what are the technologies, applications and systems users shall be using whenever the building is ready and in use. For example, the facial recognition as an identification method has emerged to the market only in few years’ time. What are the hottest new applications building users require in 2025? How could you avoid costly mistakes when selecting systems and applications into your building in design phase?

    Regardless of the industry, APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are one of the key enablers of smooth interplay between different software systems and applications. As an example, in KONE we have also launched our APIs allowing third parties, our customers and partners, to seamlessly interact with our elevators connected to KONE Digital Platform. Simple practical example of such interplay would be a hotel operator having their own App for their customers and wanting to create better customer experience by enabling automated elevator calls from their App. Through our APIs this interaction is possible to achieve in a cost-efficient manner.

    The beauty of APIs is that when building is in design stage, there is no need to make selections of all systems and applications in the building. Instead, you should ensure that the core systems you select in the early stage are equipped with APIs, allowing then in later stage easily add and enable interplay between different applications and systems that are needed to provide the desired user experience.

    We are in the middle of these difficult times of COVID-19, which is an unfortunate example of an event that globally changes the ways we live our lives. Suddenly new kind of things start to matter, instead using elevator buttons you might want to use your own smart phone to make the elevator calls. Or instead of humans bringing your grocery deliveries, you might want to see a delivery robot smoothly operating the elevator and navigating throughout the building to your apartment door with your delivery. All this and much more is enabled with APIs. That is why also we in KONE are excited about the APIs. By allowing others to create and connect their innovations on top of ours we create much more value for our customers and users – and make also the buildings more future-proof.


    This story is produced in collaboration with Kone Pte Ltd

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