Build smarter spaces! Know 2019’s top intelligent building trends


Rajagopal Nair


The Internet of Things (IoT) will never stand still.

Recently, I spent time researching the latest trends in intelligent buildings. And everything I thought I knew about the cutting edge of IoT – it’s all been put in the shade by 2019’s new spaces and technologies.

That’s the nature of IoT. It’s a loop of continuous improvement.

Sensors collect data in the real world. Cognitive and analytics solutions find patterns and insights in the data. And those IoT insights are used by really clever people to make buildings even smarter and more efficient than they were last year. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes, but innovations will keep coming faster and faster.

IoT foundational technologies, like IBM Watson IoT, are also getting better. Just this February, IBM announced a new partnership to use Watson IoT data to improve worker safety in hazardous environments. Even the way intelligent buildings are constructed can’t escape innovation!


At GBM, our experience and expertise at pulling IoT technologies together in amazing smart building solutions is expanding all the time too.

It’s no wonder the intelligent buildings market is growing fast. Gartner named “smarter spaces” as one of its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019, and predicted that “a period of accelerated delivery” is coming.

Investment records are being broken, with over US$2.4 billion poured into intelligent building start-ups last year – the figure is expected to be even higher in 2019. If you’re thinking of jumping on the bandwagon, now seems to be the moment.

Bring out the trends!

So, what is so exciting about the newest intelligent buildings? Let me show you a few that blew my mind a little.

The Edge, Amsterdam, Netherlands

First up, we have office building The Edge in Amsterdam. It’s not that new, but it’s still considered the smartest building in the world.

It’s also the greenest. The energy rating agency BREEAM scored it 98.4% for sustainability, the highest ever awarded. It uses 70% less energy than ordinary buildings, because its smart desk allocation system allows entire floors to be shut down when they aren’t needed. I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving my monitor on overnight anymore.


The Edge has a ridiculous 28,000 IoT sensors, and if you’re lucky enough to work there they give you quite an experience:

  • The building recognises your car as you drive up
  • A companion smartphone app finds you the perfect workspace each day. It could be a standing desk, a booth, a balcony seat or a concentration room, depending on your schedule and preferences.
  • The climate in your workspace is your preferred climate. You only have to tell it once.

The Edge sounds like the future of buildings, but it’s already here.

Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia

The new World’s Tallest Building isn’t opening until the end of 2019, but we already know about Jeddah Tower’s IoT and smart features.

One of the most interesting things? The elevators.

Now, you might think elevators are just boring metal boxes that go up and down. Maybe you’d be right. But in the Jeddah Tower, the elevators have to travel over a kilometer to take you from the ground floor to the top. That’s further than any elevator in history!

Made by KONE and powered by IBM Watson IoT, these elevators use IoT sensor data to…

  • Predict faults based on the elevator temperature, position and vibrations
  • Analyze and solve problems in real-time with artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Plan the perfect maintenance schedule for each individual elevator

If I lived in Jeddah Tower, I’d be glad these elevators are so reliable. Who wants to climb 1km of stairs to get home?

Giving existing buildings a software upgrade

Not every intelligent building needs to be a new construction. A lot of the smarter spaces start-ups making waves are:

  • making software that integrates with existing IoT sensors
  • making sensor + software solutions that upgrade buildings

A good example is Livly, which calls itself “an operating for physical spaces”. It’s designed to give tenants an amazing digital experience, so they can access concierge services, manage rent, arrange deliveries and more from one app. Building owners can see late payments, send messages to tenants, and organize maintenance easily.

“Livly is the operating systems for managers and tenants to unlock new revenues and streams,” Livly’s CMO told Forbes. “Every building can become a micro distribution hub and is considered a global marketplace.”

Can digital twins make the buildings intelligent? Something which I believe will have lot more people would be willing to explore in the near future. For those who are hearing the term for the first time, digital twin is the representation of a physical system in the digital world.  The software model can help simulate what-if scenarios, helps monitor and control the building itself. The advancements in AI and analytics will also help predict the results of additional occupancy, and external parameters such as weather.

I believe that soon we will start seeing drones monitoring the premise as well as perimeter of large buildings, something which takes a lot of human effort at this point of time. With the help of AI, the security staff will be able to detect unusual activities and potential crimes, based on the video streams provided by those drones. So even if you aren’t a construction company, you can still create intelligent buildings!

Your building could be the smartest yet…

If you have an idea for an intelligent building solution, but you aren’t sure how to bring all the latest technologies together, we at GBM can help.

At GBM, we got into IoT, AI and analytics solutions at the ground floor.  So we have the experience and insight to help you solve challenges by making your buildings smarter, using the very latest technologies.

We aren’t just consultants – we design and implement complete solutions, in partnership with technology leaders like IBM.

Our current projects are giving building occupants and visitors amazing experiences. One of them is a visitor experience module App

  • The App helps your visitors secure an appointment with you. It then guides visitors to the right reserved parking spot, based on their appointment data, as they arrive
  • Seamless security and reception entry for approved visitors using the App
  • Elevators that automatically guide visitors to the right floor, and App navigation that guides them to the conference room booked for the purpose.
  • Digital ceiling / Digital room that has intelligent automation of room lights (with PoE), audio climate control  based on who is in the room, or via App control
  • And finally, visitor experience survey, to provide continuous feedback.

GBM can provide everything from sensors to software to deliver experiences like these.

I’m as excited to talk about these amazing technologies as you are to hear about them – probably more so!

So, if you’d like to know more, please contact me.

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