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Smart Thinking for Smart Planning: Connection

In our last post, we outlined what a smart building is—one in which monitoring devices and analytics assigned to heating, lighting, security, etc., come together in a single network—and concluded that smart thinking needs to happen from the very start of a project, with all hands on board.

We have to reframe the questions we ask during the design process: before we start talking about the Internet of Things and network risers, we have to talk about who will use the building and how they will use it. To guide that conversation, we focus on the Four Cs: Connect, Collaborate, Control, and Conserve (thank you, Deloitte Insights).

Over the next week or so we’ll post an article on what each of the four Cs means to us, and give examples of how each one might build out.

Here’s what Connect means to us.

How will:

  • the building bring people together physically?
  • it let people know where co-workers or customers are?
  • it accommodate and support remote consultants and field staff?
  • it make employees’ and customers’ experiences more convenient and enjoyable?
  • shoppers find out about special offers or related products?
  • it take account of people’s individual preferences?
  • it tell people what spaces are in use or are off-bounds?

We could design more inviting kitchen areas—beyond a single counter with a coffee machine and a fridge with old lunches in it—to encourage people to make and share food.

Going one step further, we could make the kitchen open onto to a larger conference room to create an event space.

In retail, connect could mean designing interactive kiosks for locating products or watching demos and AR experiences.

In any public space, we could design smart kiosks for wayfinding, digital concierge services, and wireless charging stations.

We might specify natural materials, such as slate, wood, and stone to give people a sense of connection to nature.

In the same vein, we might have glass-exterior walls overlooking accessible landscaped courtyards or natural environments.

We might offer interfaces that let people enter their preferences, such as “workspace with window” or “ladies wrap-around tops.”

Shoppers could get personalized promotions on their phones based on their preferences, behaviour in the store, and social media use.

In offices, we might include smaller, private work-spaces for people who need quiet time for focused concentration, meditation, or just to recharge.

We could build in secure, wireless printing services and easy access to conference calls.

We might consider making some spaces multi-functional—combine meeting areas and work stations with minibars for fruit juices and fresh snacks, with recycling centres nearby.

Connect is also about making it easy for employees to access key services, data, and content wherever they are.

We’d design store-wide traffic monitoring systems to identify positive patterns that strengthen marketing and merchandising decisions.