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Simplifying Facilities Management with Mobile Apps

By Cynthia S. Artin
September 11, 2018

Switch Automation has extended its enterprise Software-as-a-Service smart building management platform, going beyond simple alerts and notifications to team collaboration and management of workflow on smart phones facilities management teams can use on the run.

The Switch Automation App, available for iOS and Android smart phones, is part of an ongoing trend to simplify and drive cost efficiencies associated with field service – in this case

enabling prioritized mobile alerts, task assignment, cross-team chat and image uploads. The Switch Automation App is now available for Switch Platform customers via Android and iOS.

Whether facilities management teams are ensuring maintenance is performed on time, or are responding to a real-time issue, the app integrates sensors throughout smart buildings for machine-to-human notifications, sending alerts to the appropriate individuals registered on the app when, for example, a smoke detector stops working, a door or window is left open, a refrigerator reaches a temperature outside the norm, or any number of “instrumented” pieces of equipment stop functioning or are not functioning normally.

Intuitive features include the ability to upload photos which can be shared with an off-site expert or vendor, enabling tickets to be closed faster through immediate collaboration.

With all these activities recorded, they can be analyzed with reporting used to continually improve the outcomes in managed buildings.

“We’re not just creating technology to help people operate buildings better,” said Deb Noller, CEO of Switch Automation. “We’re ushering in the next generation of technology-enabled facilities management. Fortunately, our customers understand that today’s differentiation is tomorrow’s best practice. They know this change won’t happen overnight, but by giving their teams tools like the Switch App, they’re empowering them to be more autonomous and productive.”

The mobile app is an important addition to Switch Automation’s strategy to redefine smart facilities management.

By giving users the ability to remotely optimize building performance, the app prevents time consuming bottlenecks while enabling transparent portfolio management and collaboration in real-time, according to their press release.

“Facilities professionals are a valuable resource and are often juggling competing priorities. They need the ability to identify and rectify building issues right when they happen,” said Dennis Krieger, Director of Engineering Services at Switch Automation. “With the Switch Automation App in their pocket, they’ll never miss a critical alert and can communicate with their teams and vendors to solve problems before tenants are affected.”

According to ABI Research, the management and control of large commercial buildings and corporate campuses is growing a steady pace. Gateways associated with smart building management are projected to exceed 64 million units in 2021, according to the research firm.

Smart buildings are not new, but they are evolving, even as IoT ecosystems mature.

Switch Automation is part of Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry project, for example, which brings together companies offering everything from sensors to systems, networks to clouds, hardware to software, applications to analytics to create secure IoT edge solutions that scale.

While the growth of smart buildings has been driven by energy cost savings, other factors, including physical security, real estate optimization, and tenant experience are creating opportunities for value creation in the space.

Predictive maintenance addresses a better tenant experience, quietly ensuring all systems are “go” on any given day; IoT sensors and gateways send signals to applications, including the new mobile app Switch Automation announced.

Other problems smart building technologies solve for include air quality measurement and maintenance, HVAC and lighting controls, analysis of space usage (example conference room available/unavailable), kitchen equipment maintenance and storage, restroom cleanliness, and more.

IoT is also being used in the construction cycle, as new buildings evolve, accelerating development projects and ensuring milestones are met, tracking progress and reporting on that progress to managers responsible for the success of build outs.

The Switch Automation App is designed for current Switch Platform customers, among those announced by the company including WeWork, Lendlease, Oxford Properties, KRP Properties, Forest City and Pioneer Energy.

The app is available for download in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Contributing Writer

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