"The beginning of another new year is upon us (and I think we can all agree that this year is ending with all of us experiencing pandemic fatigue), which means it is time for—you guessed it—thoughts of what lies ahead." Marc Petock
Whether you call them trends, forecasts, conjectures, speculations, predictions, estimates, likelihoods, your two cents, or downright guesses, 2021 is already here!
So, what is in store for the built environment in 2021?
· Recovery and Execution Mode: We are past the crisis mode. We are now in a recovery and execution mode. The built environment will play a huge part in how we rise to meet these challenges presented by COVID-19 especially in occupant trust, fighting to win occupants back and building confidence in the workplace.
· Trust: This has become the new building asset. We are in a new age where building control systems need to become more functional and where data and connected technology play a fundamental role not only in facility operations and management, but also in workforce management, engagement, health, and safety. COVID-19 has driven us to adapt and make our buildings healthier and even smarter.
· Pandemic Prevention: Changes in work environment practices introduced to counteract the spread of COVID-19 will continue and likely to be in place for the longer term. The Pandemic will push building owners and operators over the technology point and continue to transform the built environment.
· Key Words: Some new key words have entered the conversation and have become the name of the game—flexibility, pivot, rethink, reset, and resiliency.
· Hybrid, Hybrid, Hybrid: We will continue our journey on the road to a hybrid workplace environment. We will examine options including where we work, how we work, when we work, to infrastructures that include VPN solutions, to the increase of edge devices and making the edge smarter in combination with the cloud and what KPI’s and outcomes that need to be delivered.
· New Normal: The new built environment normal will be powered and supported by data with analytics.
· IP Enabled Edge Devices: IP Edge devices and the shifting from a vertical building architecture to one which is horizontal. IP enabled devices are becoming a common element and more prevalent within buildings of all types as we head into 2021. IP is allowing us to flatten the topology of the traditional building controls architecture. We are moving from one which has been vertical for years to one that is horizontal.
· Understanding Risk: Risk: how to manage it; how to mitigate it; how to control it.
· Safety &Wellness: Anything that drives safety, helps to ensure wellness, and makes us feel safer will be trending this year. Forget faster, better, newer, and different. The technology and innovation wish list will focus on products and services that make us feel safer amid a pandemic. Wellness will be considered a necessity, not an option.
· Cybersecurity: We will continue to be challenged by cybersecurity. Hacker attacks can happen at different layers, and we need to make sure the building systems and equipment are well-protected as we continue to up our game.
Finally, the built environment is in its most transformative and compelling period we have seen over the last twenty-five years. Anxious times will continue. The pandemic has prompted all of us to rethink how we live, how we work and what we value.
These trends are directly relating to the impact they will have on how buildings will be operated and managed. We have to rethink, adapt, and adjust. The challenge is not a lack of technology—it is here, and it is proven—but rather the willingness and preparation to take advantage of it.
Amid this evolution, the safest trend for 2021 is, simply, more change.
Full steam ahead! Aye, Aye Captain!