UAE’s digital transformation gains pace in building automation - GulfToday

UAE’s digital transformation gains pace in building automation


A breathtaking view of Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The UAE is also leading in ICT investments in the Middle East.

Inayat-ur-Rahman, Gulf Today

Becoming more future-ready and enhancing competitiveness are two recurring themes driving the UAE’s policies, across business and industry. In recent years, policymakers have identified digitization as the primary means to achieve these objectives. This digital-led strategy is evident in the launch of more than 130 smart initiatives, and 1,000 smart government services, under the Smart Dubai umbrella. The UAE is also leading in ICT investments, across the entire Middle East.

Such efforts have resulted in Dubai featuring among the world’s top 50 smart cities, ahead of competitive urban centers like Seoul and Paris. However, since digital transformation is a journey, more than a destination, efforts to further cement UAE’s position among future-ready economies, will have to remain ongoing and evolving.

One sector, which is critical to this agenda, is real estate - along with its verticals such as building automation, energy, maintenance, etc. Lately, thanks to increasing partnerships between leading local service providers and global associations, the real estate sector is poised to add more value to UAE’s digital transformation journey. One notable example is Dubai-based Netix Global BV joining the reputed BACnet industry association, as a Gold Member.

“Netix is a fast-growing company that will continue to be associated with bespoke and globally-accepted testing bodies like BACnet International,” said Sanjeevv Bhatia, the Chief Executive Officer of Netix Global BV, talking to Gulf Today.

The BACnet International association has around 150 leading building service providers as members, who have pledged to support and promote the BACnet Standard developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), whose reputation in the HVAC industry is unparalleled. “This association gives customers and stakeholders the necessary confidence and ready acceptance, especially in newer markets,” Sanjeevv added.

“Netix is a wonderful fit for the BACnet International community,” said Andy McMillan, President and Managing Director of BACnet International. “They are taking advantage of new technologies to further enhance building automation capabilities in data analytics and energy management, which are critical to effectively and efficiently manage facilities in smart city solutions.” Consistent with McMillan’s belief is the pressing need to enhance building automation capabilities, particularly in energy portfolios, given the fact that buildings are responsible for 40% of global energy use and global GHG emissions. Any intervention, which aims to address this footprint, needs to focus primarily on HVAC and lighting systems, since they account for nearly 70% of the energy used, on average, in multi-family facilities and large-scale CRE. This is why Netix becoming a member of HVAC-focused associations like BACnet and ASHRAE can help enhance the UAE’s de-carbonization and sustainability efforts.

Shifting from traditional to data-driven operations: HVAC is a focal point in energy efficiency efforts within commercial real estate, and operators have multiple aspects to reckon with: Heat exchangers, blowers, coils, and compressors, etc. Holistic efficiency is achievable only if all such subsystems operate optimally. If even slight malfunctions and anomalies are ignored, they can compound and lead to increased energy consumption and emissions.

And an average multi-family residential facility has hundreds of distinct, multi-vendor HVAC systems and subsystems. Under these circumstances, optimization is only possible through IoT integration and collation of data from each system, for optimal maintenance and continual efficiency improvements.

“Band-aid solutions to each problem, as and when it manifests, is a recipe for future disaster,” said Sanjeevv Bhatia. “We need to integrate multi-vendor subsystems, enable real-time monitoring, conduct preventive maintenance, and create an open-protocol ecosystem in buildings, in order to ensure utmost adherence to sustainability targets and achieve life-cycle efficiency in HVAC systems,” he added.

The inference here is that legacy systems with vendor-specific protocols and lock-ins are counterproductive to efficiency in energy-intensive segments like HVAC. Instead, building operators can adopt full-stack solutions that harness IoT, AI, and ML technologies to ensure that every automation system operates in optimal conditions, at all times.

Operators can unify all-system control under one roof, extract data, analyze it, and derive insights that can lead to data-led management. Such an ecosystem replaces manual processes, with features like ML-based fault detection and diagnostics, which unearths root causes of inefficiencies and rectifies them before they can result in bigger problems.

Related articles