The recent proliferation of internet-connected devices has given birth to the idea of a ‘smart building’ – a structure that is capable of monitoring, controlling and communicating with building personnel in a dynamic way.
While a lot of a conversation around smart buildings has to do with convenience and productivity, they can actually be much safer for occupants as well. Intelligent camera systems can use computer vision algorithms to identify concerns. Audio detection systems can alert building managers when certain sounds are detected. A smart fire alarm system can be easier to use and more effective than the old conventional type of system.
Below is a short list of ways that smart buildings are making occupants safer.
Smart Camera Systems
For years, cameras have provided video to security personnel, or used to record anything that occurs in an area of concern. Now, smart camera systems can track and identify people, object or events that might be a safety concern. Rather than having a security guard watch a number of screens with a constant stream of pictures on each one, in the hopes that they can identify possible safety issue, a smart cameras system has embedded technology can spot trouble 24/7 without getting tired.
Complex algorithms allow a video system to broadly identify people and other things that might be a concern. If the system spots something determined to be outside the norm, it can alert security and the video footage can be rapidly shared and evaluated to determine the potential threat.
Many systems also allow for an end-of-the-day evaluation by storing and transmitting clips of any suspicious events to security personnel. Because of computer vision and algorithms, these systems significantly reduce the need to store hours and hours of video footage when only a handful of moments are actually of interest.
Audio Detection Systems
Audio detections systems can work in conjunction with video systems to provide a more comprehensive surveillance system. With an audio detection system, a connected microphone would allow for the identification of various predetermined sounds that have been associated with safety and security concerns, such as the sound of glass breaking, someone shouting, a gun being fired or a car accident.
An interconnected system could use multiple microphones to locate the positional source of the sound in question and communicate with moveable smart cameras to look at the area of interest.
Fire Alarm Systems
Conventional fire alarm systems have been very effective at keeping building occupants safe for decades, but these simple systems do have a number of inherent flaws, such as false alarms, the regular need for manual testing and that pesky low-battery warning.
Smart fire alarm systems use the latest technology to address these flaws and others. Some modern fire alarm systems are able to determine the nature of a nearby fire by using optical sensors to detect heat and smoke. This capability allows a fire alarm system to tell the difference between toast burning in a toaster and a raging inferno.
Smart fire alarm systems are also connected to the internet, enabling all kinds of options when it comes to sending out alerts. For instance, a smart system could contact first responders, management, residents or safety personnel based on the nature of the fire. A smart fire alarm system can also send out alerts on power and maintenance issues.
Many smart fire systems are also capable of performing self-testing and self-diagnostics, significantly reducing the amount of maintenance compared to a conventional system.
Data Insights and Analytics
Perhaps one of the most exciting things that smart buildings can do with respect to safety to identify ways to make buildings even safer. Smart buildings are constantly gathering data through various connected devices, they offer a massive opportunity to gain new safety insights through the analysis of that data. Data could reveal insights that applying generally, to a wide range of building types. Or, insights uncovered by a building manager might be specific to a particular structure.