Disruptive Tech Property Industry Impact – The Cloud
Number 4 of the the McKinsey and Company 12 Disruptive Technologies is the Cloud. The Cloud has similar potential to disrupt the built environment financial models as much as Mobile Internet does as both of them enable wireless online access to corporate networks. But how else could the Cloud change our property industry in the future?
First up what is the Cloud?
Well any general reference to something being in the Cloud means that it is not on your own network or company servers – it sits on someone else’s servers or computers. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft have been developing cloud based systems for many years and more and more data and programs are being transferred to the cloud.
The general term for someone else keeping and storing your data or programs is called ‘hosting’ or ‘hosted service’.
Running something in the Cloud means that the software is not running on your PC or tablet or laptop but on someone else’s computers.
In order to access data in the Cloud or run programs in the Cloud requires a permanent access to the internet. The big limiter to date has been the unreliable and slow speed of Mobile Internet, when this changes the use of the Cloud changes.
So what does it mean to the Property Industry?
There are the obvious ones like the energy consumption and demand in our buildings will go down, particularly office buildings. The number of and spread of data centres will go up – data centres are the physical form of the Cloud. And the obvious disruption to the place where we do work will change as we move away from needing to be hard wired to a desk.
But what else could it impact?
Building Automation is potentially one of them. With a permanent connection to the cloud there is no reason why every building should have its own Building Automation System (BMS). The sensors, controls, valves, pumps etc could all be controlled from the Cloud. This could potentially allow for far greater standardisation, increased productivity and potentially far greater energy efficiency to be achieved. Smart Buildings could be thought of in the same way as we think about Smart Meters, the Smart Grid could manage itself through being part of the Smart Building Cloud Network (SBCN). Awesome.
Another could be the collaboration of 3D CAD or BIM. If the models are stored in the Cloud then it greatly enhances the ability to collaborate in real time between the architects and engineers. Google Docs allows real time multiple editing of documents online, why not the same with BIM or 3D design.
It could also link in to the variable occupancy that The Internet of Things will drive. Having your building as part of the SBCN means that your building could adjust its cooling or heating needs to suit the already determined occupancy levels for the day. Creating more efficient buildings by use the thermal mass of the building and its systems to create Just In Time and Just After Time cooling and heating.
Creating Cloud based Building Automation could also greatly improve the efficiency of buildings that don’t have or can’t afford automation systems such as smaller public buildings or domestic scale property. Temperature controls or air conditioning units could be installed with WiFi or Mobile Internet to be controlled by the mother of all BMS’s in a data centre somewhere. Maybe this is where Johnson Controls is heading already!
So how else could the Cloud change our property industry?