We’ve talked previously about the need to engage a master systems integrator (MSI) in order to create buildings that are truly smart – bringing together know-how and project oversight to deliver buildings that are intuitive, safe, healthy, productive and environmentally efficient.
The challenge the industry faces however, is that it is still something of a wild west in terms of what MSI actually means. It can mean different things to different people, especially in terms of what owners/developers are getting when they sign up with an ‘MSI’ partner.
Hesitancy is building
For some, the benefit of an MSI is that they can start with a blank piece of paper and create a totally bespoke technology implementation in a building. However, for others this doesn’t offer a huge amount of concrete outcomes – raising fears of ‘scope creep’ and never-ending projects where no one is quite sure when they’re ‘done’.
This lack of clarity is creating understandable hesitancy around the whole MSI concept. Indeed, why would you invest significantly with an MSI without the reassurance of guaranteed and standardised outcomes, costs and benefits?
This is further complicated by the basic realities of the construction industry. The focus on outcomes relies on the systems implemented by the MSI and the infrastructure delivered by a main contractor to be closely aligned. And yet the main contractor may have begun its technology procurement before an MSI has been appointed or may be long gone by the time an MSI is implementing its solution. What if issues with the building infrastructure arise at that stage? It potentially leaves a gap that no MSI could fill, and in a position where they cannot deliver the key outcomes that both landlords and tenants expect and deserve.
Time for change
To resolve these disconnects we need a new approach. The importance of clear, transparent and widely agreed standards for smart buildings cannot be understated. That’s why the SmartScore accreditation by WiredScore is such an interesting, a potentially impactful, development.
The SmartScore system provides a superior definition of outcomes, so its primary benefit is that building owners and developers can understand exactly what they will get based on their level of investment.
Added to this are a number of attractive elements that SmartScore focuses on – from a strong emphasis on sustainability, to protections against tech obsolescence. What’s more, SmartScore attaches a huge significance to user experience, with 65% of the score based on this aspect.
These criteria ultimately emphasise good design practice which – when combined with the focus on specific outcomes – not only make spaces more pleasant for the tenant, but crucially make the ‘smart’ aspects of a building more ‘sellable’ for landlords.
SmartScore is part of a growing standards and accreditation movement in this space, along with WELL and Leesman. These initiatives are a solid first step to creating true standardisation in the smart building space and as an MSI ourselves, it’s something we are fully aligned with as a measurement framework and committed to implementing as a tool.
We want to make what an MSI does affordable and deliverable – with guaranteed outcomes and fixed pricing that can be managed via the main contractor in the way that a traditional construction contract would.
As such, our first team members have recently achieved accreditation as approved SmartScore designers. This means we can immediately start advising clients on securing SmartScore ratings and adding value to their spaces.
But this is just the first step. Beyond our accreditations we will also be working with SmartScore to ‘pre-verify’ our solutions – enabling us to take more ownership of projects, to derisk a building owner’s investment in technology, and ultimately to offer clear guarantees on outcomes right from the design phase.