The need for greater collaboration emerged as a recurring theme during Innovation Day Middle East and Africa, on February 20 in Dubai. Organised by Johnson Controls, the event offered a platform for leading stakeholders from various disciplines within the HVACR space for providing insights into potential areas for cooperation in a bid to develop smarter, more efficient cities.
During his opening remarks, Claude Allain, Vice-President & General Manager, Johnson Controls, MEA, highlighted the importance of connecting people and the event’s aim of unleashing creativity by sharing ideas. Allain also discussed how strategy, capacity and discipline serve as the three pillars of innovation within the company. In discussing the innovation process, Allain said technology is becoming an enabler for innovation and an accelerator in the company’s goal of enriching the delivery of comprehensive building solutions.
Kevin Ashby, Global ISV lead, MEA Microsoft, elaborated on this by conducting a presentation on the progress of digitalisation, IoT and AI. He discussed the new challenges and opportunities that come with the increasing volume and variety of data as well as how to effectively leverage them in creating smarter buildings. “With things like predictive maintenance, if you know a machine will fail, how quickly will it fail? Will it be 15 minutes or will it be 3-4 seconds?” he asked. Ashby emphasised that the fundamental aim of looking at data related to buildings, systems, power, heating and maintenance is to offer more cost-effective solutions to tenants and to enhance user experience.
In his presentation, Sarfraz Dairkee, Secretary to the Board, Emirates Green Building Council, emphasised that buildings of the future must not only be efficient but also be sustainable, underscoring the importance of achieving a balance between economic and social development.
Highlighting the UAE’s accelerated move to reduce its carbon footprint, Dairkee provided a comprehensive overview of the Green Building regulations being rolled out across the country, adding that there has been increasing demand for healthier and more sustainable buildings. However, Dairkee said bottlenecks do exist, mainly owing to lack of public awareness and the misconception that sustainable buildings cost more. “That is a myth,” he said. “If the team is working closely and integrating various solutions, new technology, this offers possibilities to connect a lot of innovation. It’s not only possible, it is doable to deliver sustainable buildings, if not at a lower cost, then at the same cost.”
Abdullah Al Wahidi, Senior Director, Emaar FM, also highlighted the value of an integrated approach. During his presentation on digitalisation’s role in the future of Facilities Management, Al Wahidi called for greater cooperation and knowledge-exchange among experts in the room, advocating greater cooperation between users and vendor. He added that cultivating a greater market will help make solutions more affordable and accessible.
These topics were discussed even more extensively in the essential panel discussion of experts working in various spaces within the technology and the built-environment sectors. Moderated by Dr Marcus Schumacher, Vice-President & General Manager, Johnson Controls, GCC, the panelists included S S Murali, Senior Managing Director, Al Futtaim Engineering; Safer Nazir, Regional Vice President, Huawei Digital Industries; Ali Mohamed Al Mazmi, Director, MEP, Dubai Silicon Oasis; Surendar Balakrishnan, Co-Founder & Editorial Director, CPI Industry; Azizur Rahman, Vice President, Global Business, Alert Enterprise and David Budzinski, Vice-President and General Manager, Global Midmarket Building Optimisation (DEB).
Offering a lively exchange on the UAE’s role in digital transformation, the panelists shared vital insights into the great strides the country has made towards creating smarter cities and the milestones in Dubai. They spoke of how technology is helping enhance design, operation and maintenance of buildings as well as its impact on the lives of UAE residents and citizens. The discussion concluded with the panel providing feedback on the biggest opportunities for the industry.
Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org