What is a technology architect and what does their emergence mean for Australian builders? MARK JEISMAN explains.
In recent years, due to economic factors and the rise of renovation shows such as The Block, Aussies are increasingly renovating their homes more than ever before. This is because these shows demonstrate how any Aussie can renovate or build their dream home with the help of a strong plan and a few trusty tradies.
On this, research has shown that more than half of Australians (52 percent) made some form of renovation to their home in 2017 and have employed a variety of professionals to assist in the process. The most common professional hire was an electrician (64 percent); 17 percent engaged a builder and nine percent engaged the services of an architect.
Whether building a house or designing a home improvement project, Australians tend to speak to the experts directly involved. For example, they want to talk to an electrician about lighting practicalities, a plumber about their water needs, a security consultant about safety and may enlist an architect to talk about the design of their home in addition to a builder who many times is the one to drive a project. These trades often all work separately and have limited communication between each other.
However, this siloed way of operating can often result in a hodge-podge of fragmented solutions that do not support the adoption of emerging connected technologies. We are now on the cusp of a smart home revolution, where new technologies enable a stylish, convenient and sustainable lifestyle in any home. These solutions are becoming more easily available and affordable, resulting in a strong appetite for shaking up how to build an electrical and networking system so homeowners can better manage aspects such as energy consumption, lighting, security, air-conditioning, intercom and entertainment.
Research by Clipsal by Schneider Electric and Telsyte suggests the number of connected devices going into homes will skyrocket to an average of 37 devices by 2022. This is a great move forward in building and liveability. However, for some, it could create ‘wall clutter’ as each sub-system (lighting, air conditioning, security for example) often has its own separate keypads and switches, which is messy and inefficient. A better solution is to have all involved come together to coordinate consolidated or single points of control to simplify control and potentially link these systems together for enhanced automation features.
All elements of a build or home improvement project need to be considered holistically to achieve seamless and aesthetic technology solutions. However, this issue is not solely the builder’s responsibility to solve. Technology architects (often referred to as system integrators) are proficient in specific fields of technology such as lighting control, electrical, security, home entertainment, home networking IT and more. They can design, project manage and deliver efficient, innovative, solutions that provide real world benefits to the occupants and add value to any building.
When working with builders, technology architects can help map out exactly where devices, outlets, sensors and hubs need to go and how they can work together. This avoids the builder having to navigate a complex web of systems, making integration of the build and technology installation a seamlessly coordinated process.
One for all
Technology architects are crucial in bringing together often disparate systems while delivering quality form and function, enhancing the lifestyle of the home’s occupants and finding ways to seamlessly blend technology in the home. Their role is to foster innovation and collaboration to employ smarter buildings, supporting simplified human-centric control and optimised energy efficiency. A key aspect is to also anticipate future technologies and ensure suitable future-proofing is designed into the home to support new devices and systems as they evolve.
It might seem counterintuitive to add yet another person to a project, however the benefits of a holistic approach to a building project are many and can actually reduce costs for the customer in the long-term with efficient energy savings, elevated security or the automation of mundane tasks.
You don't have to DIY alone
The global digital transformation is changing many aspects of our lives at work and home. As such, the building industry needs to be empowered by the benefits of smart home technology, rather than be overpowered by it. Employing a technology architect from the outset can support and bring together the technological needs of the designer, builder and clients’ needs in a common strategic vision.
Mark Jeisman is a business development manager with Clipsal by Schneider Electric. Based in Perth, he has a 35-year background with some of Australia’s most influential AV and smart home companies and as a broadcaster and technology commentator in radio and print media.
Image: GO Homes / D-Max Photography