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Honeywell's Frank Pennisi on the future of smart, connected buildings

Buildings equipped with IT systems that anticipate inhabitants’ needs, as in when they’ll need heat, cooling, light, Internet service, telecommunications — and even coffee — are coming into being and people are eager for them.

But connecting all the systems that will allow a smoothly functioning space can be daunting, said Frank Pennisi of Honeywell: "A lot of the time people don’t know where to start." So he suggests starting with an assessment of what a building can do to help fulfill its occupants' mission. 

"A smart building is one that allows owners and occupants of the building to better fulfill whatever their mission is. If it is a school, it is better test scores. If it is a hospital, it is better patient outcomes," he said.

And the Holy Grail of connected cities starts with connected buildings. "A city is a collection of buildings so if you start with getting your buildings smart," a smart city will evolve from them. The infrastructure challenge is connecting the buildings and their systems into one central system in the cloud, or wherever, that allows coordinated functioning and IT communications.

"We give people the equivalent of a smart building score … that allows facilities managers and owners a place to start," he said. Then they can go about connecting the infrastructure pieces that allow "that one plus one equals three experience" in a building — and a city.

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