How the Digital Workspace connects BIM and the IoT

Much has been written over the last couple of years regarding the so-called Internet of Things. For the uninitiated, the Internet of Things is a term that’s been used for a few years to describe how physical machines and devices become connected to the Internet. In many cases, these connected devices can connect to each other.

The data that is created by these connected devices fuel higher engagement and intelligence by those who interpret that data: be they humans or other machines.

At Invotra, we don’t call this the Internet of Things, we call it the Intranet of Things – when you have an internal view of all of the ‘things’ that help drive your business. That is, when you’re able to draw connections between all people, content and things.

A good example of how the Digital Workspace will come alive in the coming years, is the integration of Buildings data. Many organisations with numerous facilities use Building Information Models or BIMs to digitally render their physical facilities.

Within the last five years, the Cabinet Office, for instance, declared that they endorse and support BIM adoption throughout the UK Government departments and the UK construction industry.

There are efficiency gains to be had by standardising building data across government, but there are also numerous competitive advantages for the construction companies that follow suit, as BIM is more widely adopted globally.

By next year, all centrally procured construction projects for the UK Government must be done so with BIMs.

At Invotra we are already using Building Information Model (BIM) data to help our customers detail their facilities. As a consequence, we’re helping our customers integrate buildings, rooms and office data into their intranets.

Soon, we’ll be able to render buildings in 3D, giving end users the capability to view their locations from mobile devices via their company’s intranet. This is particularly helpful when organisations have thousands of employees, many of whom frequently travel to new office locations.

We’ll allow employees to see meetings which are occupied or vacant. In the same way that we can see if a person is available online, we’ll be able to see if a ‘room’ is available.

Our facilities in which we work are going to be connected like never before.

Heating and cooling systems, mechanical and electrical systems, water supplies and irrigation systems, as well as central alarm systems – they’re just examples of things which will all be accessible via a digital workspace.

The “Intranet of Things” is not just about buildings

Using simple RFID tags, health and safety executives can manage things like fire extinguishers to ensure their company’s entire estate is up to date and functional.

IT facilities staff will be able to track phones, laptops, cables and printers. End users will be able to file tickets on their intranets when a printer doesn’t work, for instance, allowing for more efficient repair processes.

There’s a company in Milwaukee called Scanalytics which makes modular floor panels with embedded sensors to enable businesses to measure foot traffic. This has clear benefits for retailers and consumer-oriented companies. However there are other uses in commercial enterprises and government departments which would greatly benefit from understanding footfall and having that traffic understood in a digital workspace.

Imagine if, in staff canteens and cafeterias, by opening up their menu data, an enterprise could let users vote up or down their favourite meals, providing significant cost savings to businesses and better mealtime experiences for employees!

In Vancouver, there is a company called Verti-Crop that is revolutionising farming with its urban farming production facilities. They grow crops in vertical towers that rotate on conveyor belts. The company uses chemical sensors to inform the business when crops are ripening, ready for harvesting. They claim they have 20% more yields that traditional farming methods and – astonishingly – they use only 8% of the water one would use normally.

Verti-Crop, can build these farming facilities anywhere. For instance, on top of a car park. Or perhaps, in the future, right on the premises of the enterprise, adjacent to your cafeteria.

2016 could see the era of the digital workspace. Large organisations are acutely aware that they have to adopt the IoT concept to stay ahead. The digital workspace takes that concept and applies it to the biggest assets that your organisation, your people, knowledge and environment.

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