The idea of the smart home

When building houses, office buildings or industrial plants, investors not only look at the construction costs, but more often at the future costs of use. They are able to invest more in the beginning, to be sure that after a while the investment will pay itself back and start bringing profits. Thinking about such investors decentralised control, adjustment and oversight systems were created – called smart home systems. The idea of a smart home

The term had emerged in different circles towards the end of the 1980s. It is hard to say whether this was an answer to the great advancements in multiple areas of science and technology, or just a fad to create such buildings. Irrespective of the circumstances of creation of the idea of an intelligent building, today, looking back all this time, one can see that the concept proves itself well in practice. Introducing new technologies and changing the needs of the users, the roll and function of buildings will be completely transformed, adapting to the changing reality.

The term 'intelligent building’ applies to buildings of different uses and sizes, i. e. office buildings, shopping buildings (markets), industrial sites, schools, hospitals, estates, private houses, etc., possessing integrated management and oversight systems. Smart buildings have to fulfil many requirements regarding both advanced technology of the automatic control units, as well as the organisation of operation of automation circuitry. An integrated management system will cover many autonomous automatic circuits, and a breakdown of any one of them cannot cause interruptions to the operation of the others.

In the beginning, assumptions for intelligent buildings covered exclusively alarm systems, lighting and air conditioning. Advancements in telecommunication and computer sciences, and the transformation of office work standards caused computer networks to break into buildings – as modern automation and security systems. Thanks to the use of computers and the normalisation of components of different installations, one was given the ability to follow and control all processes in a building. Integration of systems had shown that it is possible to effectively manage a building’s resources, increasing its safety, and providing high comfort of work for its users. One must not forget that the idea of intelligent buildings is not only a figment of imagination that’s totally detached from reality, but that it reflects the struggle and ability available to present-day science and technology. Influencing the shape and role of buildings, designers create a new reality, provide it with new quality, meeting thus the expectations of current and potential future users.

Due to the constantly evolving reality, and the complexity of the problem, it is not possible to provide a uniform definition of a smart building. Apart from this, in different groups there are proposed approaches characterised by different understanding of the role and operation of each component of the complicated structure that undoubtedly is the intelligent building. There are, however, minuscule corrections and amendments to the principal idea, which is the creation of a friendly environment, supporting good work, in which an organisation can achieve its set goals. This is a very general description of the issue, but it reflects very well its philosophy. Remaining at this level of abstraction, we come to the conclusion, that it is not important, how the building is equipped, but whether or not it fulfils the requirements of the users and creates for them an environment in which they can work efficiently, safely and effectively. The technology here is only a tool helping to run business. This is an universal approach, and one which doesn’t lose its value, irrespective of any advancements in science and technology.

As for the building and its users, one can distinguish three basic goals, which are key for the creation of an intelligent building. The first of these is building management. We are talking here both about the control of the human resources, as well as the automatic systems, of a building. The next goal is effective management of the space (area) in the building so that its costs of use are reduced to the necessary minimum. The final component is the organisational structure (of the company) operating in that building. According to the definition, an intelligent building, when making available its resources, i. e. the computer networks, telephone lines, pneumatic mail, should support and facilitate all processes taking place within the company, and create for it room for expansion. The form and scale of implementation of the idea of the intelligent building depends on the resources we have available.

Automatic systems in intelligent buildings not only provide optimum comfort and security to the people, but also reduce energy consumption (including electric energy and heat from the heating plant), offers control and oversight of all technical devices, and allows the printing of necessary reports on the state of the building. A system also covers fire detection and alarm notification, burglary detection and control of access to the management system.

From the technical point of view, a smart building is such a site, in which all subsystems interact with each other, creating an environment friendly to people, and apart from this have the ability to automatically react to any kind of danger, or change to the working environment, at minimum input from man and relatively low usage costs.

Of primary importance in the used circuits, devices and components of the system is the reliability of their work, high quality of workmanship and ease of use, allowing the user to configure the system and program its tasks according to their own needs in a simple way. Building intelligence is thus contained in the programmes installed in controllers and computers, built for each automatic device and circuit.