Feeling safe whether you are in your own home, in your place of work or in a care home or hospital should never be in question.
The management of critical information in high-rise buildings is set for a radical digital transformation in the next four months, and the property industry must act now to comply with new legislation that is designed to improve building safety in England.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, an independent review of building regulations and fire safety was commissioned by the government.
The resulting Building a Safer Future report recommended that a ‘golden thread’ of digital information should be introduced for a building’s lifecycle of higher-risk buildings – and this should include up-to-date safety information regarding the building design, build and management.
While this golden thread of digital information could be incorporated into any building, legislation to date has focused on approximately 12,500 higher-risk residential and mixed-use buildings that are 18m high or seven storeys, as well as care homes and hospitals.
The legislation may not sound ground-breaking, and it’s fair to wonder why something so obvious isn’t in place already – but unfortunately for many buildings throughout the country, they require a real step change in how this ‘digital building DNA’ is stored, accessed and updated.
Occupiers should feel secure in their homes and have access to accurate safety information at their fingertips – but the reality is that for many buildings, it just isn’t available. And if it is, it can often be outdated. It’s astonishing that for far too long, we have not been able to store or access this information.
A year ago, the government’s Building Safety Act gained royal assent and is set to be implemented by October this year. With four months to go, implementing the requirement for a golden thread of digital information will require a significant shift in mindset across the industry.
Consequently, owners of higher-risk buildings need to proactively plan, prepare and implement for how they digitalise building information – ensuring a building’s single source of truth is not only recorded but kept securely and can be accessed as and when needed by all stakeholders of a building. By ensuring that essential information is readily available, building owners and managers can take proactive steps to mitigate risks and respond quickly to emergencies.
Sustainable adoption of technology can not only streamline a building’s operations but also ensure agility and efficiencies. With real-time data available and the ability to seamlessly manage and share the flow of important information in a transparent way, we can forget depending on laborious archaic paper process.
It is in fact more straightforward than ever before to digitalise historic building information processes, as technology interoperability and innovation in real estate continue to make positive strides to enhance user experience across the spectrum.
The onus isn’t just on the property owner but also on the tech provider. Close collaboration, shared values and understanding what success looks like when rolling out technology followed by meticulous onboarding and training, combined with the constant development of tech, is the key to long-term success.
No community of any kind should be victim to poor standards, poor communication and inadequate legislation. Hence, the human cost of not embracing these new legislative changes far outweighs the financial cost of implementing the required technology solutions, which have never been more affordable to embed into our buildings.
Rob Maxwell is the business development director of occupier experience platform Locale