April 2007

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BuilConn Middle East 2007

  Bradley Hemphill Pr.Eng
Electrical Engineering Solutions

No where else In the world does the the scale of construction come close to that of the Middle East. However, my 300USD / night hotel in Dubai reminded me that I could be anywhere in the world, because unfortunately my hotel was not smart. It was using legacy technology and had just been opened three months earlier. Skype did not work. Why had the local telco blocked the use of skype? How are we going to realize the smart city vision if we have telco's and ISP's fighting about the medium and the way we communicate? So deep down inside myself, I was asking why, and again BuilConn came up with some answers to that question.

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Cisco starting off by talking about the “human network”; the new network of individuals, business partners and friends connected via technology. I enjoyed this as it portrayed a human touch. We are too busy talking about the bits and bytes and cost and not talking about the user experience. Enter the new players, the companies offering applications that make intelligent use of the data being served by the middleware and adding real value to the business.

Volker Hartkopf, Director, Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, Carnegie Mellon University asked the audience if technology could save us? He spoke about green buildings, integration and LEED and then an integrator called Pacific Controls answered this question by taking the conference delegates to their new head office, the first LEED certified building in the Middle East.

The technology sessions focused on the architecture of IP buildings, implementing gateways, and linking the building systems to the business systems. This was exciting as it showed that the local GCC economy is on the same page and has grasped these concepts well. The discussion continued to move and focus on obtaining answers of how others have achieved integration elsewhere in the world. These were answered on the exhibition floor where a number of world players in the industry were mingling and talking with prospective clients. The exhibition floor was really alive and it was interesting to see suppliers, integrators and engineers talking to each other and sharing solutions and building their own human networks.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] On to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; very much smaller than the current construction scale of Dubai. This will soon change as the vision of Saudi's new mega cities is realised. It was clear that some planning is taking place amongst the stakeholders with more planning, knowledge and understanding, breaking down silo's and changing of mind sets. I hope to return soon, to enjoy the good hospitality, and hopefully a smart hotel in a new mega city.

Again I could feel that some key role players in this industry were poised to make the biggest change to technology in the built environment. They gathered at the Cisco round table and produced a vision called “Buildings 2.0” - a vision where the building services are integrated with internet technologies; where the value proposition exists for all role players; the developer lowering his capex, the owner lowering his opex, and the user obtaining a better experience.

About the Author
Bradley Hemphill
Bradley Hemphill is Founder of Electrical Engineering Solutions, a business consulting firm who provide electrical engineering, system engineering and project management services to the mining, marine, industrial, infrastructure and property sectors

He obtained his degree in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cape Town, and started working for WSP, an international firm of consulting engineers, from there he moved into construction and worked at Brand Engineering, and it was here that he obtained his registration to practice as a Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and in turn with the International Engineer�s Mobility Forum. He then went on to found Electrical Engineering solutions in 2001.

He is an active member of the local chapter of the IEEE and has been involved in some prestigious projects including the $1 billion Saldanha Steel Iron Ore Smelter, the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and the first ATM video surveillance network in Africa.


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