"Smart sensors" are seen as a solution for future buildings, but their adoption has been slow. Research conducted by Dr. Maryam Abhari, a registered architect, and Dr. Kaveh Abhari of San Diego State University, indicated that while the information and technology exists to assist architects in designing structures that offer more efficient space and energy management, they seldom take advantage of those available resources.
"We've found recent studies showing that smart sensors are frequently added to a building after they are built, rather than being used as a source of inspiration and insight during the design process," said Kaveh Abhari. "We wanted to know why architects and design professionals were not only slow to integrate smart sensor design and data into their work, but why they were also slow to adapt to new technologies as well."
The researchers, both of whom are faculty members in the management information systems department (MIS) at SDSU's Fowler College of Business, initially interviewed 29 architecture professionals to identify why they were slow to integrate technology into their design processes. They interviewed professionals who either had experience with smart sensors or have attended educational sessions on smart sensor technology (SST).
"We found there existed real or perceived barriers which prevented architects from utilizing technologies in their design processes," said Maryam Abhari. "The barrier most cited by those professionals we surveyed was the increased time required by the incorporation of SST into the design process. Other barriers included the lack of technical knowledge, aversion to potentially increased costs, mistrust of the data, and the loss of control over the design process."
The researchers found that the many advantages to utilizing smart sensor technology in the design process were overlooked or ignored by the architects. "One of the key advantages to utilizing SST in the design process is that it offers insight into enhancing efficient space planning, ventilation, safety features and energy and water efficiency," said Maryam Abhari. "If architects were willing to collect and analyze the data from environments that needed to be renovated, remodeled or rebuilt, SST would have the potential to disclose the pros and cons of the existing design which could have a positive impact on the project redesign, but, unfortunately, this frequently doesn't happen."
In a second study on smart sensors, only 10% of the architectural professionals considered themselves proficient enough to utilize SST into their design projects. Nevertheless, 60% said they would consider using SST data or working with IT professionals on their projects.