Anatomy of a Smart Building, By Rachel Wijsmuller

Posted: 06/11/2019

You nudge your e-scoot into the last space in the scooter bay outside and quickly duck into the lobby to avoid getting splattered by the swarm of drones repainting the building. You stop yet again to wonder at a large piece of adaptive artwork that responds to the news sentiments and your heat signature but forgo the opportunity to inspect its algorithms on the nearby info pad. A door on the right for staff only greets you by name and opens as you step towards it, as you pass the virtual door assistant chimes that your 8.30am meeting has moved to the first-floor following more bookings overnight.

As you walk into Room 103 you decide not to use the holographic projector and opt for the kooky and traditional screen on the wall. The display wakes up slowly, eventually requesting a connection to your laptop or a login for a range of cloud connectors to stream your presentation. You jump slightly as a colleague working from France announces her presence through her virtual headset. Just before your local attendees filter in, the internal ambience system adjusts to pre-cool the room slightly. 15 minutes later a notification pops up to check on everyone’s comfort as it had raised the room temperature by 1 degree, making a 17% energy saving. Soon afterwards fresh air circulates as CO2 sensors indicate increasing concentrations of the gas which could start to impact cognitive functioning as the debate heats up within.

Forty minutes later, still chatting, the group files out, dropping their coffee cups in a sweeper bot diverted to that corridor only moments before. You gratefully look forward to your favourite salad for lunch which has recently stopped being sold out at the canteen after its AI caught up with the tastes of a new batch of interns. As the people move on to other pursuits the sweeper bot does a quick scan of the meeting room, collecting the scraps of paper and pastry crumbs, then winds its way to the basement where it docks on a rubbish hopper to expel its load. The hopper’s arms sort the coke tins from the compostable cups, each to their own bin which informs the waste removal company that it is still only 25% full. Last quarter the landlord got a 3% rates rebate for such efficient and thorough waste management, a target they are set to beat again this month.

A crack team of cleaners sweeps into the garage, past the battery walls and electric pool cars trickle charging from the solar-wind installation on the roof. They were called out by the BIM system to take care of a flood in the shower room where monitors have detected a fall in water pressure. Later the same crew will return, guided by prompts from the floor utilisation tracker, to tidy and clean the most heavily used areas and bathrooms. Another engineering crew is attending to alerts from the remote monitoring system which showed a lift motor vibrating dangerously and a dishwasher on the third-floor with a falling efficiency rating.

The clock ticks past 6.30pm and the lights on unoccupied floors are off, occasionally the door assistant will politely remind someone leaving the floor that their lunch from last week really should be removed from the fridge today. Sound-damping room dividers that had been moved during the day are returned to their homes by the Facilities Manager who notes from her asset tracking dash that there is a lone worker on the 7th floor who has borrowed the electric back massager from the lounge, again…

Not particularly inventive? How will you take a workplace from 2020 into 2035? Assuming we do still work at all…












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