How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Impacting Architecture, Design, and Construction
Make no mistake about it, the Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT, is changing the construction and design trades. Useful for far more than running your smart home, the IoT will shape both the architecture, design, and construction processes and the outcomes as we move into the future.
Before we examine some of the ways that the IoT is changing our field, let’s make sure we are on the same page in terms of what the Internet of Things is, and the meaning of the terminology surrounding it.
What is the Internet of Things?
If you are new to the idea of the Internet of Things, it may seem a little complicated. In truth, the backend computer programming that goes into the IoT is a little complicated, however on the user end, you are likely already using an IoT device or two every day.
Wired Magazine explains that “In the broadest sense, the term IoT encompasses everything connected to the internet, but it is increasingly being used to define objects that "talk" to each other. ‘Simply, the Internet of Things is made up of devices — from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables — connected together,’ Matthew Evans, the IoT programme head at techUK, says.”
So your smartphone, your smartwatch, and your digital thermostat are all part of the Internet of Things, meaning that they are all devices that connect to the internet, and through the internet, connect to each other.
If something can be app-driven, like the large format printer in your office, or your video doorbell, it’s an IoT device. Color-changing smart lights? IoT devices. ZDNet says, “An IoT device could be as fluffy as a child's toy or as serious as a driverless truck. Some larger objects may themselves be filled with many smaller IoT components, such as a jet engine that's now filled with thousands of sensors collecting and transmitting data back to make sure it is operating efficiently.”
The IoT is Making Life Easier in the Architecture, Design, and Construction Industries
There are several ways that Internet of Things devices and connectivity are impacting the building trades. These can include the use of IoT devices in the design process, the utilization of IoT tools in the rendering and engineering processes, and the implementation of IoT technologies on the construction site. While, like everything with the Internet of Things, the use options are truly endless, here are a few key ways the IoT is already making our lives easier.
Construction Site Monitoring
When it comes to the Internet of Things on the building site, think (primarily) sensors. According to Analytics Steps, for example, “the devices attached and monitored with the IoT software and techniques can monitor calculations of humidity, temperature, and pressure to alert management about any potential happening that could cause damage and that needs immediate attention.”
Not only can IoT devices monitor your structures, but they can also help keep your personnel safe. With wearable devices, you can monitor everything from a worker’s location to bump and shock trauma. Adding IoT wearables to standard safety equipment can make everyone’s job safer.
Equipment and Materials tracking
Small sensors can be easily connected to apps via the Internet of Things, meaning that you can track and monitor a wide array of things. Affixing an IoT sensor to your tools makes them traceable in case of loss or theft. The same idea can be applied to nearly anything.
If you work with prefabricated building sections, for example, you could easily use the Internet of Things to know at a glance the precise location of each and every piece.
Building Information Modeling
3D Building Information Models (or BIM) have become increasingly popular in the design and architecture side of the industry, and are increasingly useful for engineers and builders. The amount and types of information that can be quickly shared and updated have made BIM a vital new technology. Likewise, the ability to imagine integrations between BIM and the Internet of Things shows a great deal of promise.
A number of research and case studies (like this one) have shown potential for the “integration of the IoT sensors and the BIM process to provide a common data platform for the visualization of building indoor conditions (e.g., temperature, luminance, etc.) and of energy consumption parameters that would enable facility operators to obtain important information.”
IoT and Green Buildings
Speaking of sensors and the communication of data, because of the vast array of automation capabilities, the IoT has become a favorite tool of designers of green buildings.
As we said above, the Internet of Things has several major strengths. One of these is the ability to program sensors that can detect any number of statistical data points. A sensor might monitor foot traffic in a hallway, for example, or even aggregate the body temperatures of those in a room. That data can be reported, and integrated into advanced and varied processes.
Another major strength of the IoT is the ability to automate devices using data—like the data collected by sensors. What if your foot-fall sensors could help you to better understand traffic patterns in a part of a building, and then the lights, temperature controls, or other systems could be adjusted automatically. What if a sensor on your organic roof could detect when to water the plants? All of this, and more, is possible with the Internet of Things, meaning that for those working in the green building space, it’s a vital tool for the future.
The IoT is so diverse and varied that it even impacts the large format printer in your office. As we have discussed on our blog, large format printers are available with embedded web servers, one-click printing software, and apps that allow you to control any number of functions right from your phone or tablet.
To summarise, the Internet of Things (IoT) is used to define objects that "talk" to each other. Useful for much more than just turning light switches on and off in your home, the IoT will shape both the architecture, design, and construction processes and the outcomes as we move into the future.
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