Report: Smart Building Conference at ISE 2013
Paul Milligan, March 7, 2013
The AV industry desperately needs to embrace sustainable Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems before the convergence of the systems overtakes us, was the overriding message from Allen Weidman, the STEP Foundation/sustainability officer from InfoComm.
ICT systems can include anything from CCTV, digital signage, PA/VA, light control and room scheduling. The opportunity for the AV integrator in this market lies in what Weidman called Smart Spaces. It is where the smart building concept is applied to a single room or group of rooms.
The AV integrator is already working in those markets argued Weidman, and therefore can help make sure all key energy-consuming systems work together using automation integration. The components of a Smart Space include energy management systems, mechanical systems (BMS, thermostats), lighting, telepresence, or traditional AV (projectors, displays etc).
Weidman made a passionate case for the AV industry being the only one who understood the importance of the ‘exceptional experience’ for the user and how to achieve it. He called on the AV industry to think beyond the traditional AV sphere, and to think of themselves as ICT or SBT (Smart Building Technology) professionals. This sector is up for grabs and represents a huge opportunity for the AV sector as no single technology designer/installer has stepped in to SBT so far.
Graham Naylor-Smith, an AV consultant from Arup echoed Weidman’s plea for the AV industry to take the opportunity smart buildings represent. Historically those in AV are quick to adopt technology, are used to providing user-friendly interfaces which front complex systems with multiple protocols and are respectful (and used to working with) other trades.
A starting point to gain entry into this sector could be to provide AV and lighting integration with client scheduling tools. To progress within the smart buildings sphere added Naylor-Smith, AV professionals will need to learn about the programming of AV control systems for regular power up and power down, and the programming of lighting control systems. They will also need to understand the exchange of information that goes on within a building, and grow a knowledge of SQL and Exchange databases.
Jon Melchin, from InfoComm’s Green Task Force spoke about the importance of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and what it means for the AV industry. For the uninitiated BIM is a 3D design, modelling and simulation technology for the architectural, engineering and construction industries.
BIM is changing the way that structures are designed because it provides a better interpretation of what the building is going to look like, and how the building will perform over its life cycle. The use of BIM can often finance itself, as design conflicts are detected, resulting in costly (and repeated) corrections before construction even begins. Within BIM itself, AV products are considered building components in the eyes of a construction professional, and manufacturers of AV products are building product manufacturers.
The ability to visualise the physical aspects of AV products in BIM can be very valuable, as it can help you decide on video display size and location, loudspeaker configurations, projector mounting locations, equipment rack layouts. The sharing of all this information with designers can be extremely beneficial (and cost-effective).
As an example, Melchin pointed to the building of LucasFilm’s Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco. Costs savings of $10 million were made as a result of BIM spotting hundreds of conflicts before construction began. The four buildings, covering 865,000 square feet, were delivered on time and under budget.
BIM can help detect space and system routing conflicts, it can help to ascertain clear cable pathways and projector and camera sightlines. Melchin called for AV professionals in become involved earlier in BIM projects, AV technologies can impact the performance on sustainability of a building, and AV technology can benefit building occupants.
The use of BIM gives project managers the ability to quantify construction materials, to produce fewer change orders (owners can walk through a 3D model of the building), and imagine the sights, sounds and performance of the building, including the AV systems, before the first shovel in the dirt has been made.