min read

Two core philosophies for smart building design

Unsubstantiated phrases in our industry run rampant. The language is confusing, so what can we do?

Unsubstantiated phrases in our industry run rampant. Even the description of industry technology that is widely adopted is meaningless. Smart lighting, smart building, and the one that annoys me the most: IoT.  

This language is confusing and puts people off. We could simplify a lot by being more descriptive and factual. Instead of IoT platform- what about ‘device integration platform’? And perhaps you mean ‘conditional logic’ when you say ‘artificial intelligence’?

(BTW if you are on the receiving end of false ‘AI’ talk- Gartner has a good guide on how to call them out).

“Smart Building” is hard though. It means so much and so little at the same time. I think of it as a category with several pillars. Connectivity, Integration, Logic, Interface, and Application.

But no matter how you break it down- there are two core outcomes of a smart building: Better user experiences and deeper insights.

These come attached to several misconceptions, and these are the two we come across most frequently. Check out these videos on both for more information.

1. UI is not UX

An example of UI is a button. A user experience is an outcome. Maybe you don’t need a button to reach the outcome. Let’s stop focusing on apps and GUIs and start thinking about workflow automation and integration into existing tools and interfaces. A simple process is to define: 1. Who 2. Where 3. What is the desired action? Map this out for every user and every location. Watch the video below for more info.  

2. Dashboards are not insights. 

A dashboard makes you focus on the data in front of you. What opportunities are you missing if you are looking at a dashboard? Insights come from people. A dashboard might be a tool- but if a vendor is flogging the power of their dashboards, it’s probably because they are limited to the set number of things they display. 

Scope analytic requirements the same way as user experiences- be specific and map out scenarios. Use a platform to meet your requirements and continue to assess and change what you need. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel- building data isn’t special. Ask your data teams how they manage large data sets and what tools they are using. There are plenty of free courses on Microsoft PowerBI and analytics in general. 

Are there any other misconceptions or unsubstantiated claims you'd like me to follow up on in the future?

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