Integrating Smart Building And STEM


The potential of smart buildings only grows with each passing year. New technologies and emerging market trends make the integration of your workspace with various network resources (IoT, private edge networks, etc.) highly desirable.

So let’s talk about some of the common STEM applications for smart buildings, and how to best leverage them.

Medical Smart Buildings

Without a doubt, medical and dental applications for smart buildings have made major strides since 2020. This goes beyond the environmental controls that made the Covid pandemic quite a bit more manageable. A new era of patient care was born when patients in need had to remotely seek out care.

Telemedicine and teledentistry became two of the hottest life saving technologies on the planet. The ability of a medical or dental professional to assess a patient’s situation, prescribe medicine, and in some cases even operate remotely took the world by storm.

In the context of medical smart buildings, there are several integration points that needed to be addressed. Any facility performing remote operations needed secure, building-integrated edge networking setups. There simply couldn’t be a risk of lag or unreliability when someone’s life was on the line. Additionally, both power and network redundancies needed to be in place, with sub-second failover times. And of course, the highly sensitive virtual operating theatre needed to be fully calibrated and integrated across several sites.

But remote life saving procedures are a relative rarity when compared to medical service localization. In the past, one would have to go into a central facility to get all of their procedures done: X-ray, ultrasound, blood work, and the like. But with the advent of telemedicine and teledentistry, this became a three stage process:

1. Internet based consultation, remote drug prescription, and referral.

2. Satellite office visit for all preparatory procedures and evidence gathering.

3. Booking and executing the final remote, satellite, or centrally located procedure.

Smart buildings make these steps far easier, particularly from a security standpoint. Badging and biometric systems can be set up to admit specific patients during specific windows; a critical consideration in pandemic conditions. Alternatively, QR codes or barcodes can be leveraged that incorporate access and the patient’s procedure information, all stored on a smartphone or printed out.

Suddenly, every smart building with the right facilities could become the temporary office and operating theatre of a medical or dental professional. Countless conditions have been treated due to this, and tens of thousands of lives saved.

Chemistry From Afar

It may sound like science fiction, but smart buildings are helping chemical and pharmaceutical companies perform their work remotely. This is delivered in two ways, one for analysis work and the other for lab work.

On the analysis side, smart buildings are being set up with high speed, real time database analysis facilities. This generally consists of secure private Cloud integration, alongside a database propagation system (like 3Forge, et al.). This kind of setup covers everything from regulatory analysis, to trial management, to risk assessment applications. Its usefulness can even extend to the factory floor for production and post production analysis.

On the experimentation side, fully remote chemistry labs are a reality these days. Often, this is an edge networking application, since split second reaction time might be required in some cases. With the right networking and environmental controls, either traditional PC controls or VR can be used to manipulate actual lab components from afar. Precise chemical and material measurements are possible from hundreds of miles away. This makes maintaining clean room standards easier, and results in more efficient lab time reservations.

Smart buildings can provide everything necessary to host or access remote chemistry work: High speed networking, high tolerance climate control, secure access control, and more.

When Worlds Collide

Finally, what if the smart building is the experiment?

In order to understand the science behind access control, environmental control, optimal working conditions, and how automation can assist human living, some smart buildings have been turned into self-contained laboratories.

For example, take the Intelligent Human-Buildings Interaction Lab (IHBI). They’ve set up an immersive built environment with smart building controls to experiment with big-data modelling and machine learning. The result is a hybrid AR/VR/physical laboratory for smart building interaction.

The study of smart buildings as labs might lead to the holy grail of STEM: Urban labs. Oftentimes, regulation and expense drives big labs to suburban locations, far from the city centre. This increases travel times and lowers the size of the company’s candidate pool.

With smart building based urban labs, all of that gets turned on its head. The facilities are small, automated, efficient, and hotdesk-friendly. Much of the experimentation can be performed remotely, and any role that needs to be done in person has a huge candidate pool to choose from. 

Planning Your STEM Smart Building

You don’t need to be a smart building expert to leverage their amazing utility. Contact Electracom if you want to see what smart buildings can do for your remote and in person STEM applications.

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