Smart Building Technology:

The critical systems powering UK business

As smart building technology becomes more advanced with the increase in computational processing power, 5G mobile networking and machine learning capabilities, deciding which systems are most appropriate for your commercial building is of critical importance.

In this article, following on from our comprehensive guide to Smart Buildings, we’ll be taking you through a deeper-dive into the systems currently powering UK businesses that are making them highly efficient from an energy savings standpoint and also enhancing their occupants’ productivity to unprecedented levels.

The foundation of smart building technology

Smart building technology represents a transformative shift in how commercial properties in the UK operate and interact with occupants and the environment. At its core, it involves the integration of advanced technologies to manage and optimise building functions, enhancing efficiency, safety and user comfort. This technology encompasses a broad spectrum of systems that work cohesively to create intelligent and responsive environments.

A key component of this technology is in-building mobile connectivity, which ensures seamless wireless communication within the building. This connectivity is crucial in today’s fast-paced business world, enabling real-time data exchange and remote control of building systems. It enhances the functionality of other smart systems, making operations more efficient and responsive to occupant needs.

Another critical system is the Distributed Antenna System (DAS). DAS addresses the challenge of poor mobile signal inside large buildings by amplifying and distributing the signal to all areas, ensuring strong and consistent mobile coverage throughout. This is particularly vital in dense urban areas and in buildings constructed with materials that obstruct cellular signals.

Together, these technologies represent the forefront of smart building advancements in the UK, underpinning a new era of efficient, connected and intelligent commercial spaces. They not only redefine how businesses operate but also contribute to sustainability goals and enhanced occupant experiences.

Types of smart building technologies

The following list is an overview of the different types of smart building technology that are deployed to enhance the connected and automation abilities of commercial buildings.

Mobile connectivity

Mobile connectivity, underpinned by Distributed Antenna Systems, is a cornerstone of smart building technology. Its technical complexity is matched by its critical role in ensuring that modern buildings meet the demanding requirements of today’s business environment. By enhancing communication capabilities, supporting a range of devices and preparing for future technological advancements, DAS plays a pivotal role in the efficacy and advancement of smart buildings.

The underpinning technology within mobile connectivity, especially in the context of smart buildings, involves several key components and systems that work together to ensure seamless wireless communication. These include:

  • Cell networks 

    The foundation of mobile connectivity is cellular network technology, such as 4G and the emerging 5G networks. These networks provide the backbone for mobile communication, offering high-speed data transfer and connectivity.

  • Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)

    DAS is crucial in large buildings or areas where external cellular signals are weak. It works by capturing external cellular signals, amplifying them and then redistributing the enhanced signal evenly throughout the building. This ensures consistent and strong mobile connectivity inside the structure.

  • Wi-Fi networks 

    Wi-Fi technology is a staple in providing wireless internet access within buildings. Modern smart buildings often have extensive Wi-Fi networks that allow devices and systems to communicate internally and connect to the internet.

  • Small cells 

    These are low-powered cellular radio access nodes that operate in licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Small cells are used to extend the reach and capacity of cellular networks, especially in densely populated urban areas or inside large buildings.

  • IoT protocols

    Technologies like Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) are used for short-range communication between IoT devices within a building. They enable devices to share data and function cohesively.

  • Network routers 

    These devices are essential for managing and directing data traffic within a building’s network, ensuring efficient and secure data transmission between different devices and systems.

  • Cloud computing

    Cloud computing allows for the storage and processing of data on remote servers, facilitating scalability and remote access. Edge computing, on the other hand, processes data closer to where it is generated, reducing latency and improving response times in smart building applications.

These technologies create a comprehensive ecosystem that ensures robust and reliable mobile connectivity within smart buildings, enabling various systems and devices to interact seamlessly and efficiently.

Building Management Systems (BMS)

Building Management Systems (BMS), also known as Building Automation Systems (BAS), are complex frameworks that integrate various technologies to control and monitor a building’s mechanical and electrical equipment. The underpinning technologies within a BMS include:

  • Control systems controllers 

    At the heart of a BMS are control systems that manage building functions. These include programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or more advanced direct digital control (DDC) systems, which automate the routine operations of HVAC systems, lighting, security, and other building utilities.

  • Sensors and actuators 

    Sensors are crucial for gathering data on temperature, humidity, occupancy, light levels and other environmental factors. Actuators, on the other hand, are devices that take actions based on the controller’s directives, such as adjusting the temperature or dimming lights.

  • User Interface (UI) 

    BMS typically feature user interfaces that allow facility managers to monitor and control various systems. These interfaces range from simple dashboards to sophisticated software applications that provide real-time data analysis and system status reports.

  • Network and communication protocols 

    BMS rely on communication networks and protocols (like BACnet, Modbus, KNX) to facilitate interaction between various devices and controllers. These protocols ensure that different components of the system can communicate effectively, regardless of the manufacturer.

  • Integration platforms

    Modern BMS are often integrated with other building systems (like security and fire alarms) and external networks (like the electric grid). Integration platforms enable this interoperability, allowing for a cohesive management approach.

  • Data analytics

    Advanced BMS incorporates data analytics to optimise building operations. These systems analyse the vast amounts of data collected to identify patterns, predict maintenance needs and make real-time adjustments for efficiency and comfort.

  • Cloud computing

    Integration with cloud computing allows for remote monitoring and control, while IoT technology enhances the capabilities of BMS by connecting more devices and systems, providing a more comprehensive and detailed overview of building operations.

  • Energy management tools

    Many BMS include specialised tools for energy management, allowing for detailed tracking and analysis of energy consumption and the identification of areas for energy-saving improvements.

These technologies enable a BMS to efficiently control and monitor various building systems, ensuring optimal operation, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort, while also providing valuable insights for continuous improvement.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) in smart buildings is a complex network of interconnected devices and technologies, all working together to enhance building efficiency, safety, and comfort. The core technologies underpinning IoT in smart buildings include:

  • Sensors and actuators 

    These are the foundational elements of IoT in buildings. Sensors collect data on various environmental parameters like temperature, humidity, motion, light, and air quality. Actuators, in response to sensor inputs, perform actions like adjusting thermostats, dimming lights, or locking doors.

  • IoT Devices and appliances 

    These include a wide range of smart devices such as smart metres, thermostats, lighting systems, and security cameras. They are often designed to be remotely controlled and to provide data for analysis.

  • Data processing and analytics 

    The data collected by IoT devices is processed and analysed, often using cloud computing platforms or local servers. This analysis can reveal patterns, predict maintenance needs, and optimise building operations.

  • Network routers and gateways 

    These devices manage data traffic between IoT devices and the wider network. They ensure that data from different devices is transmitted securely and efficiently to the right destinations.

  • Cybersecurity measures

    As IoT networks involve a large number of connected devices, robust cybersecurity measures are essential to protect against unauthorised access and data breaches.

  • AI & Machine Learning

    Advanced IoT systems incorporate machine learning algorithms and AI to make predictive analyses and automate decision-making based on real-time data.

These technologies enable IoT in smart buildings to create interconnected environments where every element, from lighting to security, is optimised for efficiency, comfort and safety, adapting in real-time to the needs of the building and its occupants.

Interested in learning how these smart building technologies operate together? 

Visit our Smart Buildings guide »


That wraps up our guide to smart building technologies, featuring the systems that are powering the transformative upgrade of commercial properties with advanced technologies that are reducing costs, improving operational maintenance and levelling up productivity.

We’ve paid particular attention to mobile connectivity as the foundation to smart building technology; particularly Distributed Antenna Systems which are crucial for seamless wireless communication and strong mobile coverage within buildings. Finally, it’s Building Management Systems, integrating various technologies for optimal building operations, as well as the Internet of Things, that ultimately create interconnected, efficient environments adapting to the building’s real-time needs.


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