A Brief History of Technology, Or: Buildings That 'Talk'

12/18/2017 02:08 pm ET

As a technophile, I have more than a passing interest in the evolution of technology. I look at the history of technology as more than a feat of engineering, where miniaturization is the one constant over the last century; where products, of the analog and digital variety, become smaller and more compact (see the CD or compact disc), until what would otherwise have been a floor-to-ceiling tower of records is now over a thousand songs in your pocket; where the telephone, a device literally tethered to a wall and controlled by a rotary dial, becomes thinner than a deck of cards and more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon; where applications for smartphones and tablets are an economy unto themselves, offering a resource for every interest and a means to maximize the resources at our disposal.

Maximizing building safety is one such example of this phenomenon. I mention this because, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Fire Administration, residential fires cost the lives of 1,500 people and injure 7,500 people annually. Without the ability for residents to use technology to save themselves – without the means to communicate in real-time, thereby alerting property managers about something so sudden and so suddenly dangerous – the evolution of technology looks more like a devolution toward the crude and primitive.

“Buildings can ‘talk’ to property managers and tenants alike. The technology exists for every property, be it a commercial building or a multi-family residence, to communicate based on the specifics of each tower we see on the horizon; based on every building in every skyline we choose to see throughout the world,” says Aref Am, Founder of GreenApps.

“Thanks to customization, mobilization, automation and communication, 2018 may be the ‘Year of the Smart Building,’ where building owners and property managers use technology to improve safety, enhance service and empower tenants.”

I do not doubt that assertion, not because I want it to be true, but because I know it to be true. Meaning: Health and safety coincide, historically, with more innovative and relevant technology.

Bearing that fact in mind, I welcome the chance to look at the skyline of my city –– and breathe a sigh of relief, because all will be well.

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