How Smarter Buildings Will Change The Face Of Video And AV  

Published 10/8/2012


David Danto


Principal Consultant - AV / Multimedia / Video / UC,

Dimension Data


Director of Emerging Technology, IMCCA


The AV and video communications industry has recently found enormous value in smart building technology. The idea is that all of the technologies in a building share a single intelligence and governance that makes all the components work together -- saving energy -- and thus, the cost of owning a videoconference room is about to drop significantly.

As a longtime advocate of enterprise AV and video systems, I have spent a career opening the eyes of decision makers at every level. Technologies such as these are perceived to be "expensive." I say that with a snicker because my experiences have frequently been with people spending millions of dollars on facilities, complaining to me that a few thousand dollars for a 24x7 rated flat display is "way too much to spend" when they can get a cheap consumer one at an electronics store for a few hundred bucks.

I usually have some work to do explaining the enormous value and ROI of video, collaboration, and multimedia in order to get by the inherent biases. The game is about to change however, as the investment in these technologies is about to pay for itself in a much more direct and up-front manner.

The easiest way to envision this change is to compare it to an automobile. Most people understand the expense of owning a car. You have to continuously invest in fuel to run it, more fuel and electricity to keep the environment pleasant, and maintenance efforts to keep it in good shape, etc. Think for a minute how much more your car would cost to own and operate if you always kept it running, cooled or heated, and ready to go at a moment's notice. For the most part, that is how we've operated our videoconference and AV rooms -- up until now.

Today, the concept involved is referred to by a number of names, such as smart building technology, integrated building architecture, or integrated building technology. This exponentially growing space embodies the idea that all of the technologies in a building share a single intelligence and governance that makes all the components work together. This includes heating and cooling, lighting, security, mechanical systems, safety systems, and yes, AV and video installations.

What it means to our industry is the cost for owning a videoconference room is about to drop -- significantly -- as in the comparison between running your car all day "just-in-case" vs. turning it on only when needed.

Your building will be smart enough to know when you're there and when you're not. It will follow you as you walk through the halls, turning on lights and cooling and heating systems only in the spaces you're using. It will keep 90 percent of the AV and video gear off unless someone actually needs the space.

How will it know you need it? Lots of ways. Firstly, the scheduling system will be integrated into the building controls -- so a scheduled conference will trigger appropriate room preparations. An ad-hoc need will be discovered by motion sensors along your walk and the opening of the room door.

A few minor room design changes will be needed for all this to work well, like keeping the "always on" parts of the system (codec, processor) in a central, climate-controlled environment. But many organizations are doing this now anyway.

The buildings of the future will be built with these integrated/smart technologies in all rooms, so the addition of a videoconference room will not represent a major change in operational savings. But for the present, the ROI potential of such rooms is enormous, as the technology that manages the rooms can add these electrical and environmental savings into today's buildings.

Adding a videoconference room incorporating smart technology to keep the lights and air conditioning off in the room unless it is being used will pay for that room within the first year. That doesn't even account for the value in productivity, travel avoidance, communications, and all the other drivers we've been touting for years.

The AV and video industry is aware of the enormous value here and is taking this space very seriously. I am honored to have been recognized by InfoComm International as one of top thought leaders in the industry and was invited to participate in this year's InfoComm 100 workshop, where smart building technologies will be the area of focus. I'll let everyone know how it went and share any additional insights I come away with.




This blog was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. It originally was published at UBM’s “The Video Enterprise” website that was closed down November 1st 2012.  Here is a link to the Google cache of the page with comments.  I do not know how long Google keeps these pages.


David has over 30 years of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He recently joined Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at or, he can be followed on Twitter @NJDavidD , and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at