How Beca’s digital innovation hub demonstrates smart lighting and intelligent-building and workplace control via a mobile app and chatbot.

In 2019, a large advisory, design and engineering consultancy in the region, Beca, had launched a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) to serve as a focal point for applications of emerging digital technologies in advanced manufacturing and smart cities.

The hub was a showcase of an intelligent workplace and featured advanced management software for controlling its connected lighting systems.

When management wanted to sharpen its ability to offer cutting-edge and pragmatic advice in the rapidly evolving field of smart buildings, it envisioned an intelligent workspace integrated with IoT sensors and road-testing technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, AI, machine learning and other applications.

The firm also aimed to collaborate with an established industry partner in lighting technologies to co-create smart solutions that effectively address implementation, cybersecurity and privacy challenges.

Using chatbots for lighting control

Having chosen a lighting technology partner, Signify Singapore, the firm settled on using an integrated chatbot to ease control of the sophisticated intelligent building management system. The chatbot, christened ‘Charlotte’, receives data on room usage from a series of IoT sensors embedded in the lighting system for fast, secure collection (using secure, well-defined APIs) and sharing of data with the DIH’s existing management systems.

Charlotte the chatbot has made booking a meeting room easy for employees.

The implementation started with replacing DIH’s lighting with energy-efficient luminaires and connecting its lighting systems using standard networking and communications technologies to realize cost savings and operational efficiency. Besides optimizing usage of meeting rooms throughout the building to reduce energy consumption, the Charlotte also maximizes space usage and provides employees with a simple and fast way to book a room.

Charlotte has been trained to communicate with the lighting and meeting room management systems to deliver a friendly user interface (UI) for users. With this UI, users can easily communicate with the building infrastructure using any standard messaging application on their smartphones, with complete security and authentication.

Valuable practical knowledge was gained in the process of deploying Charlotte—it was trained to understand human speak and overcome privacy issues encountered in the analysis of the employees’ room-booking habits via their emails.

Key outcomes

By using the latest data-enabled lighting control technology, Beca has transformed its DIH into an even more intelligent building, with the following desired outcomes:

  • Security and privacy insights: The implementation provided a safe space for the Beca team to understand issues in cybersecurity and privacy that could arise when deploying a smart building solution, advancing its ability to deliver practical value to its customers.
  • Space management: By collecting data on meeting room usage over the smart lighting system, the system optimizes room usage and enables employees to have more time to focus on their work.
  • Enhanced user experience: DIH employees can now control and interact with the building’s lighting infrastructure conveniently with their phones. They can also gather insights into lighting usage via an intuitive dashboard and optimize lighting operations remotely.

Said the firm’s Senior Technical Director, Technical Fellow & Smart Buildings Leader, Steve Perkins: “As smart building technology advisors, we need to walk in our clients’ reality. Having experienced the technology first-hand as end-users allows us to provide pragmatic and valuable implementation advice.”

According to Gautam Midha, Head of Enterprise Marketing, Signify Singapore—Beca’s chosen technology partner: “(Our suite) of data-driven solutions can transform any office into a smart workplace. Signify is pleased to add value to Beca’s commitment to empowering their customers to embrace smart office technologies.”

This chatbot integration has realized Beca’s goal to co-innovate with Signify to create smart solutions for connected lighting systems. With the practical knowledge gained from the project, Beca has already designed smart lighting solutions in more than 50,000 square meters of commercial space.