The recession has put IT and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on a collision course. Will IT grow up , and take control of areas where it can deliver efficiency?
The rise of central IT control
Mike Williams, founder and managing director of CDC – experts in the field of integrated systems within the ‘intelligent buildings’ and built environment – agreed that the technology tide was turning towards systems that could be more centrally controlled by IT. “Look at the new Westfield shopping centre recently opened in London,” he said. “All its building systems are integrated over the IP [internet protocol] network, where it’s easier to control and monitor their use.”
Williams said, traditionally, key areas of building management, like access control and fire alarm systems, operated in technology silos separate from the other IT operational areas of a business, such as the data centre and desktop PC estate. But the advent of IP networks has enabled a revolution in device connectivity and the amount of control and data that can be available from a centrally managed point.
“All equipment operates much better turned off when not in use and saves on power. And whatever device is connected to the network can be controlled and monitored to provide data that allows for strategic action,” he added, maintaining that just having better knowledge of where an organisation is using resources like power and water can help reduce bills by 10 per cent.
The future – holistic power management
And there is much more of an appetite for building holistic power management programmes that come under the CSR banner, according to Williams. “First the regulators are starting to push greener planning laws, where new buildings in London have to prove that 10 to 20 per cent of the energy they use comes from renewable sources, for instance,” he said.
“Then you have the trend towards CSR, where the long-term rising cost of energy means everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. But in areas where IT hadn’t traditionally delivered – that is, outside of the data centre – you’re starting to see the IT managers coming together with the mechanical and buildings engineers to do things smarter and better. Facilities may be able to dive into the detail, but IT has the ability to view the data and act strategically.”
It’s clear that, while IT works frantically to get its own estate in order as the credit crunch hits and the energy crunch looms, there is much more that it can do on a wider scale to drive intelligent, sustainable change.