Throughout the evolution of corporate America, buildings didn’t tend to inspire much outside the ordinary. Apart from the shifting designs that reshaped cityscapes over the years, inside those buildings, the systems remained more or less the same. One decade after the next.
After all, they were running just fine. Standard lighting and HVAC systems. Mandatory fire extinguishers, sprinklers. But then, after surviving Y2K, we started to slip into a century defined by digital innovations. And when the pace of change really quickened, buildings too started to radically transform.
Now, we have arrived at age the of the Smart Building – where we advance far beyond LEED certification technologies to a world of unprecedented operational efficiencies. By 2024, the smart building market is expected to approach USD $106 billion.
And there is a humble technology making much of this – and much, much more, possible: WiFi.
Tapping the potential of WiFi
Today, WiFi is as ubiquitous as the buildings of bygone America – and its proliferation is exactly why it’s the natural path toward the implementation of a plethora of smart services.
In fact, in concert with indoor mapping technology, WiFi can literally transform any space into a Smart Building, allowing companies to fundamentally change their businesses with new customer and employee experiences, and in turn, new revenue streams.
By the end of this year, it’s predicted that there will be 20 billion IoT devices worldwide – everything from smart lighting and thermostats to speakers and televisions – and that’s on top of mobile devices, tablets, laptops, watches, and whatever comes next. And with the rise of WiFi6 and its ability to connect to multiple devices at a time, we’ll soon be achieving unprecedented speed and efficiency. Consider that Apple’s new iPhone is rumoured to support faster Wi-Fi, opening the door for augmented reality, even more precise location tracking, personalized content, and plenty more.
WiFi could change how we live
There is limitless potential for WiFi’s impact in urban areas. We know that today, Smart building owners and tenants can leverage location-based services toward such ends as improved operations, better use of space and enhanced security. Yet beyond that, WiFi also presents an opportunity to change how cities function and people live within sky’s-the-limit sustainable communities.
This is already coming to fruition. Consider Sidewalk Lab’s Smart City initiative in Toronto, which looks to achieve new standards of sustainability, mobility and economic opportunity in newly conceived neighborhoods. In fact, the proposed ideas include universal WiFi throughout and technology that would leverage “tenant temperature preferences, operating budgets, building occupancy, weather forecasts and real-time energy prices” to change everything from ventilation to computer use, all dovetailed with existing building operating systems.
And outside those buildings, Google’s urban innovation arm aims to wrap entire neighbourhoods in data- and tech-driven sustainability to build a climate-positive community. An emissionless microgrid, automated vehicles, buildings of sustainable timber, heated walkways to melt ice, underground waste management – these are more innovations will leverage an array of IoT devices, sensors, and cameras to measure traffic, energy use, even garbage collection.
WiFi is the default mode of connectivity across the world, far outpacing cellular in Internet traffic. It is replacing wires and cables in buildings and driving all signal-based devices inside homes and businesses, malls and stadiums. It is driving both outdoor and indoor location technology. As Smart Cities are developed and metropolises from New York to Seoul to London follow suit, the importance of seamless connectivity – and, hence, rise of WiFi – will strengthen further.
And the big picture comes into focus: IoT-driven cities where all citizens have equitable access to the Internet and to the far-reaching possibilities that WiFi brings.