Built environment

Built environmentWe live in an era of urbanisation and the emergence of the mega-city. The global population of cities exceeded the rural population for the first time in history, in 2010. It is projected this will be the case for all emerging regions individually, including Asia and Africa, by 2030.

The challenge of managing our cities efficiently and effectively is greater than ever.

Sensing and imaging is having an increasing impact on the built environment, from individual premises to town and city-wide systems. The most radical changes are being brought about by the increasingly ubiquitous and connected nature of sensors and the falling costs of these and information processing. Building Management Systems (BMS) of one form and another have been relatively commonplace in large commercial projects for a number of years.

BMS bring benefits in both energy savings and comfort improvements.

The technology is now trickling down to smaller commercial and even domestic properties, through features like energy monitors, advanced multi-zone heating control and motion sensitive lighting. The systems in large premises are evolving too, with features such as CO2 sensing enabling ventilation and air conditioning systems to adapt to the actual need of occupants.  Savings and social improvement can also be addressed at community and municipal level.

‘Smart Mobility’ is the term being coined for the convergence of information, transport and energy.

Sensing and imaging systems provide the situational information about the location and state of assets and users within the network; through systems such as GPS, number plate recognition and vehicle telematics. This is coupled with appropriate communications out from the core to operators and users; through electronic arrival notices at bus stops, driver routing instructions and vehicle servicing schedules for instance. Resulting systems can constantly be adjusted to deliver the best service with regard to speed of transfer, cost, carbon impact etc. etc.

At a smaller scale, there are studies taking place to evaluate the potential for motion activated street lighting. This is an example where two technologies, cost-effective sensing and control plus rapidly switchable light sources, are required to make the solution workable. The shift from sodium to LED has created a sensing and control opportunity that did not previously exist.