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Short and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the smart building market

Short and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the smart building market
Security professionals weigh in on how COVID-19 is expected to impact the smart building market both in the short and long term.
The world is still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and no one knows for sure when it will end. Despite this, the effects of COVID-19 can be seen in every market and industry, including smart buildings. Although the long-term impacts of the pandemic are hard to predict, security professionals and market research companies are still weighing in on what they think is in store for the future of smart buildings.

COVID-19 is changing what we invest in

The pandemic has increased the need for smart, intuitive systems. As social distancing becomes a norm, things like visitor management systems are becoming increasingly important. Whereas in the past it was considered a non-essential, the coronavirus pandemic has made controlling visitor flows one of the most important issues that buildings need to manage correctly.

“With many companies struggling to survive, investments are not easy to make. However, the ones that realize that they need to invest, are seeing the widespread potential of smart building software in simultaneously integrating all their systems in a smart building platform, while also, with the same platform, battling the COVID-19 issues,” said Koen Schoofs, Marketing and Communications Specialist at Entelec Control Systems.

Additionally, as many businesses consider adopting a longer-term virtual workforce model, investing in smart security applications can help facility managers evaluate facility usage for space utilization or real estate decisions, according to Adam Wynne, Software Engineering Manager at Security & Safety Things.

Need for more flexible, sustainable solutions

One long-term impact of COVID-19 will be the need for more flexible, sustainable solutions, according to Wynne.

“Commercial building owners will have to focus on finding technology that helps them reopen facilities, while abiding by guidelines. However, it’s vital they search for a solution that won’t need to be ripped out and replaced in a few year’s time, when pandemic regulations are no longer in place,” he said.

Take for example a high-rise office building. A building like this might typically see thousands of people enter and exit every day. Deploying smart cameras during the pandemic equipped with intelligent video analytics could help maintain building occupancy, social distancing and ensure face masks are being worn. The data provided by these devices could also assist security managers, landlords and building managers to more effectively route foot traffic in lobbies, stairwells, escalators and other chokepoints.

Looking beyond COVID-19, for long-term uses, these same cameras can improve building and lobby design, in regard to furniture placement or removal of obstructions that create bottlenecks in high foot traffic areas.

“Previously, security cameras served one function — to gather data. Now, due to increased processing power, they can also analyze that data,” Wynne explained. “Much of what smart video analytics can do is help manage buildings more easily and efficiently, which is why now is an ideal time for landlords and operators of commercial buildings to invest in the latest technological developments in IoT.”

What else is in store for smart buildings?

Luckily for the smart buildings market, market researchers expect COVID-19 to possibly accelerate the adoption of smart building technologies and related connected equipment. This is mostly due to new guidelines resulting from coronavirus and the ability of smart building technologies to help enforce and monitor these rules, while also improving building efficiency.

An increase in investments for IoT devices and platforms is also possible, according to Omdia. They attribute this to a need by owners and facility managers to access real-time data regarding their buildings (e.g., clean zones vs. contaminated zones, air quality, etc.), as well as to employees and visitors that may want access to this information through mobile apps or public-facing dashboards.

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