Planning for Smart Devices

“Alexa, close the garage”… within seconds, the garage door closes and the WiFi bulb in a lamp in the living room flashes green to let me know that the garage door actually closed.  There is also an app on my phone that shows me the status of my door, and a camera in the garage that I could check if I just really wanted to make sure….

We’ve all heard the terms “smart home” and “home automation” but what do they really mean, and do we really need all of this stuff?  What does this have to do with smart buildings and a modern office?  The answer is that all of these things make our lives more efficient, much safer and way more convenient, both at home and at work.

As I began to add more smart devices into my home, it became clear to me that these devices needed to integrate, or at least play nice with all of the devices that I had already installed.  Why does a thermostat need to work with a smoke detector or a light bulb?  They have nothing to do with each other, right? Wrong!  Integration is where smart home automation can be a game changer in the event of an emergency.  Let’s say the smart detector senses smoke or CO2—that can trigger an emergency alert to display on a phone and on all of the thermostat screens, shut off the HVAC to prevent spreading the fire or harmful CO2 and turn all Wifi bulbs on and to 100% brightness so that we can see to get out of the house in the dark.  In addition, Alexa, Google Home, etc… can call a pre-determined phone number to alert family, friends or neighbors that we might need help. Most smart cameras save video to the cloud so that we can see what’s going on everywhere.  If we don’t implement devices that integrate with each other, these smart devices are really just network connected dumb devices.

This scenario is a simple example of the importance of thoughtful planning needed for building automation. Even in a single family home, with only a few people impacted, this is critically important. How much more important is it when dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people are in your building?  The devices used in smart buildings vary as the size and needs of the company scale, but the planning needed is the same.  Whether you’re turning your home into a smart home or building a smart office, the up-front planning will prevent costly re-work and frustrating delays.

The number of smart devices and functionality available is growing exponentially, but so are the complexities, security issues, and costs.  Technology can solve a multitude of problems, but implementing the wrong technology can cause just as many.  Take a step back, research and plan appropriately.   Ask for help.  The details matter!

Feel free to shoot me an email me at if you have any questions or ideas about smart homes/home automation.  I always love hearing and sharing ideas!

Posted in: IoT