Tech@Work: “With a Fully Digitised Infrastructure, Data-Driven, Autonomous Smart Buildings Become Possible”

Marwan Zeidan, Real Estate and Healthcare Segment Director, Middle East and Africa, Schneider Electric, speaks about the products and solutions his company offers for today’s workplace

Which products and solutions do you offer for today’s workplace?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of a healthy building has expanded beyond lighting, temperature, and air quality to include the physical and emotional health and well-being of its occupants. And while the rate at which a population returns to work varies in different regions of the globe, nearly all employees are concerned about the possibility of virus exposure in the workplaces they are returning to.

Schneider Electric’s building management systems can help businesses achieve the greatest performance and return on investment from their facilities, today and tomorrow. Enabling a smart building infrastructure with the right digital solution can result in a fast and significant payback. For example, our cybersecurity EcoStruxure Building platform offers an end to end collaborative IoT solution including integrated 3rd party offers, from the smart sensors, field devices, and controllers, to the applications, advanced analytics, and services to support the initiatives noted above, as well as enabling remote operations, risk mitigation, and more.

How do you think technology today helps businesses grow?
As a building owner or operator, you now need to have occupancy monitoring, environmental analysis and control, and space management in place, while also monitoring and managing the building and electrical assets’ health to continuously enhance their performance. Optimizing the indoor environmental quality requires continuously monitoring, analyzing, and controlling conditions in all actively used rooms and areas of a building.

This way, a facility team can anticipate, identify and correct systemic problems before they occur, such as filters requiring cleaning, valves not functioning, or even the building systems not compensating enough in anticipation of higher density in certain areas. With a fully digitized infrastructure, data-driven, autonomous smart buildings become possible. Such buildings can adapt quickly to conditions, optimizing the workplace for better health and productivity. Connectivity also empowers building teams to work more collaboratively and efficiently over a wide portfolio of physically dispersed buildings, while connecting buildings can help optimize the supply-demand energy balance.

How is tech shaping the infrastructure of tomorrow?
A new, digital experience for employees requires a digital building infrastructure. Traditionally, a building management system will be controlling HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning) systems primarily, while separate systems manage the physical security, safety, lighting, electrical distribution, backup generators, central battery systems, etc. The new paradigm is for a fully digital infrastructure, typically based on the new generation of building management systems, to enable all building systems and services to interact and interoperate.

How is your company working towards a sustainable future?
We have launched our climate action platform- Climate Change Advisory Services, so that organizations can handle the upcoming challenges via a unique combination of strategy setting, supplier engagement, implementation via efficiency, procurement of renewable energy, solution implementation services, etc. This will help organizations in reducing Scope 3 emissions to a large extent.

Besides offering products and services, Schneider is acting as a trusted advisor and supporting businesses in identifying opportunities, defining strategic approaches, and help them lead their actual implementation. This initiative under the climate action campaign would have a significant impact.

With our advisory services, we have committed to help our suppliers to reduce CO2 emissions to half by 2025, leveraging digital tools that help make data-driven decisions. While assisting businesses with climate action plans, we need to fulfill our long-term targets to achieve sustainability goals effectively. This would require a plethora of climate action activities such as in-house training, day-to-day operations, awareness for local challenges and projects, recycling and energy-saving drives, etc.

Besides, it will also require perseverance, consistent goal-setting efforts, analyzing and strategizing, etc., helping thousands of our employees be a part of climate change action. In addition, we are a member of RE100 – a global initiative led by the climate group in partnership with CDP to accelerate change towards the zero-carbon grid, and members act as their driving force and make a commitment to 100% renewable electricity across their operations and work towards increasing the delivery of and corporate demand for renewable energy.

How do you think tech will shape the 2021 landscape?
Globally, both digitalization and electrification are spreading at a fast pace. The number of digitally connected devices is ten times more than the human population and as the result, the amount of generated data and electricity consumption have grown tremendously. The demand for artificial intelligence (AI) has been steadily increasing over the past few years. However, as the demand spiked up nearly 6 times more than usual during the recent five years, it became a hot issue in the industry.

This trend comes from growing demands on technology to obtain relevant information out of numerous data.  The era which is led by technology and data now is called the digital economy. The advancement of AI technology is now more and more accelerated. It is estimated that the global consumption of the recognition system and AI will increase sixfold between 2017 and 2022.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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