Futurist ponders data’s influence on the buildings of tomorrow


With today’s ubiquitous computing, the operation of tomorrow’s buildings is likely to be radically different from how they are managed now. But along with the prospects of ever greater efficiency and insights come questions of privacy, ethics and ownership – and all these issues should be considered by the owners and operators of modern buildings.


That’s the view of futurist Roger Dennis, an international authority on foresight, innovation and large-scale change. “We’re living in a fascinating time where technology advances are delivering unimagined benefits to humanity. But those advances need to be understood,” he says.


Dennis points out that the inexorable introduction of more sensors into buildings than ever before provides the capability to monitor every conceivable aspect of the facility and its occupants. “The resultant data from these sensing systems has the potential to create entirely new business models. It has the potential to revolutionise efficiency and contribute to better facilities and improved convenience for the users of those facilities.”


But he has words of caution. “Business in general is just starting to scratch the surface of the potential offered by data. And there are many untested issues which surround the collection, processing and analysis of data, both on the open internet and in the far more intimate setting of your workplace or residence.”


Those issues can include privacy concerns as well as questions around consent. For example, if building sensors collect data on the working habits of employees – such as when they arrived, when they ate, how long they were at their desk – Dennis questions who owns the data and if the owner of the data has any right to trade or otherwise leverage it to their advantage.


Such concerns must be considered in the light of recent regulatory moves by governments around the world, such as the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, and Australia’s Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act. These developments demonstrate real concern around privacy; Dennis also questions whether building occupants would be happy to live with such heightened levels of surveillance.


“In short, you could quite reasonably be uncomfortable knowing you’re being monitored, even if you know that it’s helping reduce the environmental footprint of a building.”

Dennis suggests that there might even be such a thing as ‘too much technology’, or that building owners or operators should at least consider the possibility and seek out a healthy balance which achieves positive benefits without adversely impacting user experience. “After all, we’re seeing that technology advances are affecting jobs, with no industry is immune to the impact. And all the while, there may be bigger fish to fry. Climate change, for example, is arguably the most significant issue facing us today, and yet it is generally poorly understood by business,” he adds.


Appearing at the 2018 Facilities Integrate expo taking place in Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds, Dennis is presenting a keynote where he will share his thoughts and insights on data, information, society and the modern built environment.


Trade only; Facilities Integrate gathers all the major players in one place so you can try and buy the latest equipment, source the best suppliers, network with potential business partners, and stay on top of what’s going on in your industry. For more information and to register for free entry, visit https://www.facilitiesintegrate.nz or pay $25 at the gate.


Media contact:

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room Communications

027 365 9003 | leandri@themailroom.biz