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Building for the future with smart technology

The panel discussed how to get people back into the office and the new world of work

A key challenge for the smart building industry in the post-pandemic world is how to make offices attractive enough for people to want to use them, while also ensuring that commercial buildings are sustainable and energy efficient.

Palle Geltzer Dinesen, CEO of UbiqiSense, says it is now generally recognised that a hybrid form of working will prevail in future. Despite the move towards remote working in the past two years, the office will continue to play an important role for companies and employees. 

However, “companies are really struggling with how to get people to come back into the office”, says Dinesen, who took part in The Post Pandemic Smart Building session of the Smart Building Conference on Monday. 

Companies now have to find answers to a number of questions, such as how much space they need, how that space is used, and how much energy is being wasted by keeping systems running in offices that are only half full. 

Sergio Carvalho, global smart cities subject matter expert and asset architecture co-ordinator at Deloitte, spoke of the need to develop use cases that will make employees actively want to go back into the office. This is where smart building technology comes in, enabling companies to measure people flow, improve the quality of air, design better meeting spaces – all in real time. 

“We integrate all those solutions to enhance the user experience. And then on the other side, we also provide very powerful data for the owners and the tenants,” Carvalho says. 

Meanwhile James McHale, managing director of Memoori, provided an overview of Project Canvas, which is designed as a template for developers when they are thinking about a smart building project or adopting technology. The ambition here is to “improve the chances of driving successful technology projects”, McHale explains. 

Julian Phillips, senior vice president and managing director, XTGAVI-SPL, suggested that companies should now be looking far beyond the post-pandemic workplace. “I actually think we need to be preparing ourselves for work in a whole, brand-new world.”