Since the 1980s, the term Intelligent Building has been defined as a building which controls its own environment. Ever since, the term Intelligent building has developed into a much broader term called Smart building where it is defined as integration of both of the system within the building, and the method through which building is designed and implemented. According to a new IDC Energy Insights report, smart building technology spending will grow from $6.3 billion in 2014 to $17.4 billion in 2019, registering a compound annual growth rate of 22.6 %. Further discussion has been evaluated to whether smart building is beneficial or detrimental to the society.
For Smart Buildings
First buildings ever constructed were made of stones, animal skin, branches and other natural materials. Buildings today are made of complex system and technology. Buildings are far beyond than just four walls, it is a place where people spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors to learn important lessons, enjoy working at the comfort of their own space or spend quality time.
Therefore, the most notable advantage of smart buildings is when daily activities can be done more efficiently. These features include improved integrated security measures such as password protected entrance, efficient energy savings and ability to adapt to the user’s requirements and majority of the users will support the rise of intelligent building due to its outstanding benefits it provides. This ideology is heavily based on the principles of utilitarianism as the greatest happiness was achieved by the greatest number of people that is accounted for. In other words, if the net result is positive, the act is considered to be morally acceptable by the majority and vice versa. Therefore, popularising the rise of intelligent buildings is chosen as the action to be taken, disregarding minority that despise this action. In this modern and sophisticated world, society is evolving with the continuous improvement of technology and we are meant to make full use of the technology available to the public.
Additionally, at the most significant level, smart buildings have delivered very convenient services to the majority of people include a minimal cost in the long run and have the least environmental impact such as a reducing emission of greenhouse gases. Two prime examples are there is no need to switch off the lights manually when you are not in need of it and the temperature of a room is monitored by a smart system to maximise the comfort of the occupant. This heightens the quality of life of the occupant greatly as there is no need to worry about the state of the environment you live in as it is under control by the system. Then why is there a need to ban this innovative invention that we all sought to obtain true comfort in our daily lives? When true comfort can be achieved, the plan to popularise the usage of smart buildings shall be executed. The world may seemingly be of a better place as most people will have access to this advance technologies that will improve people’s satisfaction to the fullest.
Against Smart Buildings
With the arising technology, the introduction of smart buildings can potentially create a scope of new risks associated with aspects of technology and ethical issues. The ethical cycle in the building operations are potentially at greatest risk as compared to technology due to system integration that brings together all management in the company whom may have different cultures and views which can inhibit conflicts and faults.
One of the most controversial aspects around modern building design is control. Integrating the systems to create a smart building does generate benefits as a code driven environment when implemented and used appropriately, buildings can perform very well. However, it has its intrinsic risks which can result in substandard performance. The interconnecting of technologies with different tolerances for technical errors poses a concern which introduces room for complications.
As utilitarianism stated above may lead to an unfair treatment to the minorities, comfort of occupants is a subjective term which cannot be measured objectively. The use of IP-based technologies in a smart building centralises all control and monitoring stations. Studies have shown that there is only a single set of conditions that cater for all occupants in a smart building concept. An example given by Masoso and Grobler that automated buildings tend to be designed to the theoretical climatic conditions, occupancy and use. These aspects are subject to changes during construction and commissioning that might differ from the intent plan. Thus, the performance of smart buildings is susceptible to decrease. As building becomes more integrated and automated, some occupants may have lack of knowledge and limited awareness about the benefits of the system. Occupants within the building are prevented from intervening to change physical settings which leads to loss of control of the building. Problem is exacerbated when the personnel is in response to incidents, may not be familiar with the operation of individual buildings resulting in a negative effect on the comfort.
From a security perspective, it is essential to protect the security and operations of the company, ensuring the continuing availability of data within the entity. However, it may be compromised when the convergence of the technical infrastructure and integration of systems creates unauthorised pathways (e.g, hacking), increases the risk of privacy and security breaches. Cyber-terrorist could infiltrate company’s data with the click of a button causing failure to company’s critical systems by taking advantage of their vulnerabilities. In year 2016, hacking has become mainstreamed and hackers are set to be even more powerful in the next following years which can be a huge concern for the occupant.
As buildings start revolving around system integration, these are the challenges based on its ethical cycle that companies need to consider to evaluate if a smart building is really smart.
Group 8: Chin Yong Chen, Azim Azman, Jiayi Wu & Song Pei Xian