Spotlight on Intelligent Buildings

Building automation systems/intelligent buildings are changing the way spaces are used. The K-12 environment is no exception, with school staff trying to find ways to optimize student comfort and learning in news ways that can be automated within an intelligent building system.

Everything from classroom temperature to building security features can be controlled with an intelligent building system. The learning curve for understanding and utilizing intelligent buildings can be steep, a fact Dale Klein of Parallel Technologies is well aware of. Having seen the rise and development of intelligent buildings in the K-12 education space, Dale speaks with the magazine about some of the general and K-12-specific elements of these versatile systems, and how the technologies are progressing.

Q. What are some ways technology can help keep offices comfortable for employees and classrooms at a comfortable temperature in all seasons?

A. Most contemporary building automation systems are made up of complex software that manages heating and cooling in buildings, which allow for a lot of flexibility. The challenge is that these systems are largely unaware of how individuals are using the building.

We believe that employing various sensors along with building automation systems will provide the answer. The sensors can gather real-time data about occupancy levels and other relevant information about how the building is being used to provide more insight on how to make students and employees more comfortable.

In time, artificial intelligence or machine learning will be utilized to very accurately predict how employees and students will use a building. This technology will utilize all data being gathered to allow for buildings to be managed fairly autonomously.

Q. How does technology help to protect students, employees, and office space/equipment?

A. It’s already happening all over with a lot of interesting technologies. Software-based access control and video surveillance are commonplace. These technologies work together to tie events with video to provide very responsive solutions. The industry is moving into advance video analytics, such as license plate recognition (LPR).

For instance, LPR could be used to understand who is at your building, and perhaps who should not be. This is used today on many school and college campuses. Gunshot detection technology is also being used to discover situations and provide alerts to the appropriate people.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add about the future of this technology?

A. We are at the very beginning stages of discovering how buildings are going to be managed for energy, safety and security, and efficiencies.