“Smart buildings are the key to unlocking a more sustainable future. By leveraging technology to optimize energy use, reduce waste, and improve the overall comfort and productivity of building occupants, we can make our built environment more efficient, resilient and livable.” — BIll Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft and philanthropist

Bill Gates is a known smart building advocate. He has personally spent approximately $80 million to purchase more than 24,000 acres of land near Buckeye, Arizona to build a smart city and has spoken out publicly about the great potential of smart building technologies and how these innovations will create more sustainable and efficient buildings. 

Smart buildings are indeed the future of both residential and commercial constructed buildings, offering advanced technology and automation systems that can significantly improve energy efficiency, comfort and productivity for occupants. 

As depicted below, the global smart building market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 17.4% during the forecast period, per MarketandMarket, from 2020 to 2025, and the US market alone is expected to reach USD 1024.4 billion by 2027. 

                                   Smart Building Market Overview

Source: MarketsandMarkets.

As technology continues to advance, buildings are becoming even more smarter and more connected than ever before. Smart buildings are using an increased amount of variety of sensors, devices, and automation systems to improve energy efficiency, enhance comfort and convenience, and optimize building operations. However, with this increased connectivity comes the risk of cyberattacks and other security threats.

However, in order to ensure safety in smart buildings, it is essential to prioritize cybersecurity and automation. Here’s a closer look at why these two factors are associated and so important in smart buildings.

Cybersecurity in Smart Buildings

“Smart buildings are the future of architecture, but their success depends on robust cybersecurity measures that protect both the building's occupants and the infrastructure that supports them.” — Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance

Smart buildings are highly reliant on networks of connected devices and systems, which means that they are vulnerable to cyberattacks, which is one of the main safety concerns in the smart building industry. In fact, cyber threats to smart buildings are increasing every year. According to a report by Verizon, the number of cybersecurity incidents in the energy sector, which includes smart buildings, increased by 20% in just 2020 alone.

Cyberattacks on smart buildings can have serious consequences. For example, an attacker could take control of building systems such as HVAC, lighting, or access control, potentially causing physical harm or disruption. They could also steal sensitive data such as personal information, financial records, or intellectual property.

To prevent these types of attacks, it is essential to prioritize cybersecurity in smart buildings. This involves implementing strong security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and multi-factor authentication. It also requires ongoing monitoring and testing of building systems to detect and address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. 

Automation in Smart Buildings

“Smart building automation systems have the potential to revolutionize the way we design, build, and operate our buildings.” —Dr. Patrick Gouhin, Former Executive Director, International Association of Smart Building Technologies

Automation is another key factor in ensuring safety in smart buildings. Automated systems can help to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of human error, which can lead to accidents or equipment failure. For example, automated lighting systems can turn off lights in unoccupied areas to save energy, while automated HVAC systems can adjust temperature and humidity levels based on occupancy and weather patterns.

However, it is important to ensure that automation systems are properly designed and implemented in order to minimize risk. Automated systems must be able to detect and respond to potential hazards, such as smoke or carbon monoxide, and they must also be designed to fail safely in the event of a malfunction.

In addition, automation systems should be integrated with cybersecurity measures in order to ensure that they are not vulnerable to attack. For example, building management systems should be segmented from other networks in order to prevent attackers from gaining access to critical building systems. 

Preventative Measures

“As smart building technology becomes increasingly prevalent, it is crucial for building owners and operators to prioritize both automation and cybersecurity. Not only can automation improve building performance and energy efficiency, but it can also enhance building security and emergency response capabilities. However, the integration of these technologies also increases the potential for cyberattacks, making cybersecurity measures essential to protect against data breaches and other security threats.” —MarketsandMarkets

Smart buildings offer a wide range of benefits, from improved energy efficiency to enhanced comfort and convenience. However, in order to ensure safety in smart buildings, it is essential to prioritize cybersecurity and automation. By implementing strong security measures and designing automated systems that minimize risk, building owners and operators can help to protect their occupants and assets from the growing threat of cyberattacks and other security threats.

The following are the top action items to ensure safety in smart buildings through cybersecurity and automation.

  1.  Conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify weaknesses in building systems and networks.

  2. Implement robust cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption, to prevent unauthorized access to building systems and data.

  3. Develop and maintain comprehensive incident response plans to minimize the impact of cyberattacks and other emergencies.

  4. Integrate automated systems carefully, ensuring that they are designed with safety and security in mind and can detect and respond to potential hazards.

  5. Leverage connectivity automation to optimize building operations and enhance safety through advanced technologies such as IoT devices, sensors, and cloud-based platforms.

  6. Segment building management systems from other networks to prevent attackers from gaining access to critical building systems.

  7. Provide ongoing training and awareness programs for building owners, operators, and occupants to promote good cybersecurity practices and raise awareness of potential risks.

  8. Develop and implement policies for managing access to building systems and data, including password management and multi-factor authentication.

  9. Maintain up-to-date software and hardware to ensure that building systems are running on the latest, most secure versions.

  10. Work with trusted partners and vendors to ensure that smart building technologies are designed and implemented securely.

  11.  Stay up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity and automation best practices through ongoing training and education to ensure that buildings remain safe and secure.


As the world becomes increasingly digitized, smart buildings are emerging as a key part of our built environment. By leveraging technology to optimize energy use, reduce waste, and improve the overall comfort and productivity of building occupants, smart buildings have the potential to unlock a more sustainable future. However, with digital networks and systems at the core of smart buildings, they are also vulnerable to cyberattacks, making prioritizing cybersecurity essential.

To ensure safety in smart buildings, it is crucial to design and implement automated systems carefully, integrate cybersecurity measures, and conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing. In this way, we can harness the potential of smart buildings while safeguarding their occupants and data.