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FM Solutions


Robert Head, Assistant MD, Hochiki Middle East, discusses the changing role of life systems within the global smart cities movement.


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April 8, 2019
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FM Solutions


As we move further into 2017, the services, devices and components used within our buildings are becoming increasingly intelligent. From coffee machines to control panels, products in a variety of industries are continually being developed to be more connected, efficient and responsive. The widespread adoption of these ‘smarter’ products has had a significant impact on the way towns and cities are planned, developed and maintained, resulting in the creation of so-called ‘smart cities’ around the world. These technologically advanced urban areas – such as The Lusail City, a smart development in Qatar – are built with occupant health and wellbeing in mind. Lusail for example,

comprises man-made islands, as well as commercial and residential zones, and has a central command and control centre (CCC) catering to a population of up to 450,000 people. Lusail’s CCC helps manage the city’s traffic as well as municipal systems like water, waste and telecommunication. It also provides a centralised monitoring system for law and order, ensuring emergency services can be deployed quickly in the event of an incident to keep residents as safe as possible.

An unstoppable movement As the prominence of smart cities in the Middle East becomes more apparent, many are asking about the future of the life safety industry and whether the sector is to able respond to a rising demand for more intelligent services. A recent survey of life safety professionals from across EMEA and India, carried out by Hochiki Europe, suggests that there is a lack of understanding as to what a smart city is and its potential impact on urban planning and development. The report, which predominantly surveyed security installers, found that more than half (57 per cent) of respondents had not even come across the term “smart city”, and only a third (33 per cent) could accurately define it.

However, following an explanation of the concept, participants revealed they were confident about the future of the industry, with only 14 per cent expressing concern about their ability to adapt. Keeping things centralised In terms of the current state of life safety technology in urban areas, it seems that manufacturers are keeping ahead of the trend. A key characteristic of smart cities is the control of systems and services from a single location. The advanced life safety systems we have in today’s marketplace already allow all of the fire safety and emergency lighting equipment in a building to be managed from a single control panel.

As a result, duty holders can monitor the performance and status of their entire life safety network from a single location, which can lead to significant improvements in operational efficiency and productivity. Safety during an emergency can also be boosted using today’s smart life safety technology. For example, smart linear heat detection products are capable of pinpointing the location of an incident. This data, when combined with targeted fire suppression systems like sprinklers, can help stop a fire in its tracks as well as prevent unnecessary water damage in a building.

It goes without saying that allowing emergency services access to the information provided by smart life safety systems can also result in a reduced response time and a decreased likelihood of injury or loss of life during an incident. 2017 and beyond Smart cities present an exciting opportunity to improve the standard of living in major cities across the globe. With more than two thirds of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, everyone involved in city development needs to ensure they are up to speed with the latest smart processes and trends taking place within our cities. By increasing their own awareness of smart technology and its wider role in urban areas, those in the life safety industry can futureproof their businesses and take advantage of the latest innovations that the market has to offer.