How Security Integrators Can Capitalize on Rise of IoT-Powered Smart Buildings

Security systems can be a key component of a smart building, provided integrators can communicate the benefits and integrate the Internet of Things.

Building ROI for End Users

Capital is not always readily available for efficiency improvements. In order to effectively sell a multipart integrated network, it’s critical to be able to pinpoint the end user’s potential return on investment (ROI). This can be established by a detailed cost analysis that compares current use and expenses to the results that can be achieved through upgrading equipment and integrating technology. And the results aren’t limited strictly to energy savings:

  • Upgrading to standalone intelligent controllers can reduce lighting expenses by as much as 40%, according to Energy Star.
  • Buildings with strong southern light exposure can adjust HVAC and lighting based on actual conditions, rather than a fixed schedule, taking advantage of natural heat and light to reduce energy use.
  • A study by the World Green Building Council found 81% of workers have a difficult time concentrating if the temperature is higher than the norm; 62% say it takes up to 25% longer to complete a task when they are too hot. However, with a lack of air and energy control, it can cost a company millions to maintain.
  • Buildings with door and window sensors can detect when doors and windows are open, signaling the system to automatically turn off the HVAC while also alerting security personnel to a possible unauthorized entry.

These examples of ROI are significant whether your customers occupy large commercial office buildings, health-care clinics, restaurants and hotels or even manufacturing facilities. There are many areas to cover beyond security, so be prepared to discuss how other technology is intertwined to help produce greater ROI.

It is important that providers and integrators understand that the IoT is not represented just by connected devices. Think of it as a symphony that many devices can contribute to and just like any symphony, an experienced conductor becomes a critical element. – Rob Martens, Allegion

The first step is to show your customers the potential savings by conducting a thorough cost analysis. When surveying, you should look at everything from air handlers and chillers, to irrigation and what types of lighting are currently in place. Be sure to also include details like switching to LED lighting, and updating compressors and chillers, and show the total potential cost savings.

As noted, buildings waste a lot of energy. Simply propping a door open can cause the automation system to go into overdrive, pumping out air and creating significant energy waste. The ROI on building automation can sometimes free up money for other projects, while enhancing technology, comfort and security. This can be a game-changer for customers in the budget-conscious education, health-care and government markets.

“IoT allows facility managers the ability to remotely monitor and manage devices,”
says Martens. “These ‘no tour’ capabilities of devices can save valuable time and money, in addition to providing proactive real-time monitoring of critical building systems.”

Detailed Communication Can Help Curb Concerns

As with any new technology, there will be those customers or personnel who are hesitant to embrace the change. For instance, the IT director may have concerns about putting all their eggs in one software basket. When a building is fully automated and networked, a failure in one area can cause failure in others. There may also be network bandwidth limitations that will have to be addressed to handle the amount of data that will be collected and shared between the various components of an automated system.

Helping to create and grow the relationship between the CIO and the facility manager is also crucial to the successful adoption of the IoT moving forward, says Martens. “Assisting the CIO in understanding physical security, and bridging the knowledge gaps for the facility manager with smart device technologies will be a key differentiator for successful dealers and integrators as the industry inevitably moves to a more IoT-centric mindset,” he says.

Concerns can usually be alleviated through detailed communication and concrete information about how the building’s systems can live side-by-side and how integration can benefit the customer in the long run. The most important thing is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to voice those concerns at the beginning of the planning process.

Impact Already Felt in Security Sector

So when will this new technology impact the security industry? The simple answer is that it already has.

“We are already seeing a significant number of industrial grade IoT-enabled devices being embedded in commercial, multifamily and residential buildings,” says Martens. “The IoT has already attracted new entrants to our markets, and a blurring of traditional industry boundaries is making it more difficult to identify knowledgeable industry experts from opportunists in what many of us believe to be a mission-critical space.”

Just as clients can be overwhelmed by the amount of choice and complexity when selecting an access control system, they will need a good deal of advice and handholding to automate the systems in their facility. As always, earning the respect and trust of clients will be vital to your long-term success.

“It is important that providers and integrators understand that the IoT is not represented just by connected devices,” says Martens. “It is the collective experience delivered to an individual or group by combining a shared ecosystem of Internet-enabled smart devices. Think of it as a symphony that many devices can contribute to and just like any symphony, an experienced conductor becomes a critical element.”

Creating a connected system that allows every part of the building to share information results in maximum efficiency and, ultimately, real cost savings for the customer. Effectively sharing that vision with customers creates new business opportunities beyond access control in every building.

The IoT has only just begun to influence the way we live our lives. In time, the technology will be incorporated into every aspect of our world, from traffic lights to coffee makers. Now is the time to foster strategic partnerships with building automation firms and manufacturers you can trust to help grow your business.”

Bio: Minu Youngkin is integrator marketing manager for Allegion.

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