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IDA Ireland 2023 Predictions: 2023 Will Be the Year That Smart Buildings Take Off


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

2023 Will Be the Year That Smart Buildings Take Off

By Gavin O'Loughlin, IDA Ireland

Modern structures that use smart sensors and a range of other technologies to optimize factors like air quality, lighting and temperature have been popping up frequently in recent years but the capabilities of "smart buildings" have been abounding recently to such a degree that they comprise a significant new trend that will reach critical mass in 2023.

Imagine a building that knows what vehicles occupants drive and how they take their coffee. Or a building that can monitor breakroom supplies and ensure replenishing. How about a building with smart conference rooms whose walls can retract or expand to adapt to how many people attend a meeting?  Or a savvy building - totally powered by renewable energy, naturally - that makes sure work areas automatically reflect specific employee preferences for temperature, humidity and lighting? Then there's the smart stadium that uses acoustic cameras with sound mapping to monitor fans' reactions to key moments, or can change its exterior color, chameleon like, turning green, say, for Saint Patrick's Day.

These are real capabilities of actual buildings today and reflect how sensors, IoT, AI, big data and other powerful technologies are rapidly transforming structures. Consider Seattle's recently opened Climate Pledge Arena, home of professional hockey and basketball teams and a sustainable, tech-forward stadium that just added yet another eye-popping capability. A corporate partner, Amazon, recently installed its Just Walk Out technology with Amazon One to make the in-arena shopping experience more efficient and cut wait times so guests can get back to the action faster. The food and beverages that guests select are automatically recorded and charged without them going through a cashier.

Amazon is one of many leading tech companies supplying new solutions for smart buildings. Others include IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, SAP, Honeywell, VMware, Hitachi, Panasonic, Siemens and others. According to CrokePark's website, Intel, Microsoft and Cisco were among the tech providers of the Croke Park Smart Stadium project in Dublin, Ireland, one of Europe's largest sports and entertainment venues. A key element of Croke Park is that it offers companies a test bed to try out innovative technologies, particularly in the IoT area.

Intel strategically positioned sensors and gateways throughout the stadium to collect enormous amounts of data and store it on Microsoft Azure. This data provided actionable insights to help improve fan experiences and safety  and reduce the carbon footprint while driving efficiencies and cost-effective stadium management. Meanwhile, Cisco's Stadium Vision provided the highly scalable, secure network that optimizes sports and entertainment venues.

Just a couple of the breakthrough pilot projects at Croke Park include sports teams using special analysis algorithms to enable lighting the pitch with heat lamps at specific times of day for optimal growth, and using CCTV footage stored and analyzed in the cloud to look at crowd movement to improve logistics, event management and safety.

Some of the most notable smart buildings around the world are remaking what structures can provide to the humans inside them. The Crystal in London automatically reuses rainwater to lower costs and increase self-sufficiency. The tech-enabled, reliability-centered maintenance program in the UAE's towering Burj Khalifa improves maintenance while cutting downtime and costs. An array of sensors and cloud-based analytics in Munich's Allianz Arena makes sure the grass isn't too cold or dry. Apple's famous ‘spaceship' headquarters in Silicon Valley, called Apple Park, produces massive amounts of useable energy via its rooftop solar panels that help make the building sustainable. And the Sheraton Los Angeles deploys a team of vision-capable robots that can carry luggage, deliver room service and trigger restaurant doors to open.

Given the exploding interest in smart buildings, some nations are providing living laboratories where companies can try out their latest innovations, benefiting building occupants and owners. Besides its technology test bed at Croke Park, Ireland is also collaborating with companies and researchers to create the nation's first 5G-enabled smart campus. The initiative is called Smart DCU, named for its main driver, Dublin City University and key tech providers.

Smart DCU is a collaboration between Dublin City Council and partners Enable, Insight and DCU Alpha. The goal is to develop, test and trial cutting-edge Smart City technology innovations utilizing five campuses and almost 19,000 students from 55 countries worldwide. Based on a super-fast low latency 5G network and deploying a new concept called Mobile Edge Computing, Smart DCU is creating a test bed that allows increased adoption of bandwidth-heavy applications such as IoT, virtual and augmented reality, remote medical monitoring and connected and autonomous vehicles.

According to Smart DCU's Projects Facilitator Kieran Mahon, "It's a given that all buildings will be smart buildings in the future." Even elements as small as water dispensers and emergency lighting "will have an Internet dimension," he says, and contain intelligence. As seen in the Smart DCU initiative, the new architecture "is allowing us to do things that were previously impossible," Mahon explains, including smart e-scooters with real-time awareness of everything around them and robotic arms with such tactile capabilities as to pick up a delicate egg without breaking it.

Test beds such as DCU's campuses, the Seattle Climate Pledge Arena and the Croke Park Smart Stadium are paving the way for building the smart cities of the future. Today, having a secure, connected, living lab in the form of a building, stadium or campus is delivering insights to companies that can be used to solve many larger city problems including traffic management, crowd movement, security and safety. The quickly expanding supply of smart buildings is creating more comfortable, efficient, productive and lower-maintenance structures that, when duplicated en masse, will become vibrant, comfortable cities of tomorrow.




Gavin O'Loughlin is VP Pacific Northwest for IDA Ireland.  In this role, he assists businesses looking at Ireland as the next step in their international growth strategy, and with companies that already have successful operations in Ireland. O'Loughlin started his career in the pharmaceutical industry, moving to new forms of investment with IDA. Today, he is based in Seattle working with organizations such as Microsoft, Amazon, Nulia, Avanade and Affirma. O'Loughlin's formal qualifications are in pharmacology and business. Contact him on

Published Monday, December 05, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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