Advancing Government: Four ways federal agencies can accelerate the adoption of smart infrastructure technologies in 2023

By John Ustica, President and CEO, Siemens Government Technologies

adoption of smart infrastructure

Federal agencies are working in earnest to increase energy resilience, sustainability and operational continuity at their facilities and installations.

In December 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the first-ever Federal Building Performance Standard, setting an ambitious goal to cut energy use and electrify equipment and appliances in 30% of the building space owned by the federal government by 2030. Now, at the start of 2023, federal agencies need an action plan for how to accelerate the adoption of smart building and grid-responsive technologies.

Implementing smart building technologies can improve readiness, security, safety and efficiency. Through the application of artificial intelligence, automation, advanced data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), smart building technologies can reduce energy consumption and cost, create healthier and more comfortable surroundings, and strengthen site and service resilience.

Many agencies recognize the value of smart building systems, but identifying and deploying these technologies can be difficult. In this article, I examine four ways that federal agencies can accelerate the adoption of smart infrastructure technologies in 2023.

technology to scale

1. Focus on how you can use technology to scale

To meet ambitious net-zero targets, you must focus on how you can scale. And how you can scale is through technology.

For federal agencies willing to think broadly about how to advance their sustainability initiatives, technology can act as a major accelerant. This is known as the “technology ecoadvantage”—using advanced technologies and ways of working to enable valuable solutions that also have a positive impact on net-zero and other environmental, financial and security goals.

Take for example Siemens’ Building X, a new smart building suite that is open, interoperable and fully cloud-based. By collecting and connecting all data that smart building systems generate into one single platform, Building X helps scale-up smart buildings faster and create data-based outcomes for greater efficiency, performance and user experiences.

Whether federal agencies want to look into resource consumption and cost over time at multiple facilities or use artificial intelligence (AI)-based analytics to identify direct optimization efforts, Building X provides an effective way to scale and accelerate sustainability goals.

2. Leverage AI to make buildings autonomous - not just automated

When it comes to government deployments of AI, the spotlight often shines brightest on high profile defense applications, such as using drones for target detection. Yet, AI in smart building management will become a necessity in the coming years to make federal facilities and installations more autonomous —not just automated.

Smart building technology uses IoT sensors and devices to monitor HVAC and lighting, motion, humidity, access and electrical controls, threat detection and security. The data from these sensors then feeds a variety of controllers that can help site operators automate building management and make it more predictive and responsive.

For example, smart HVAC controls can help reduce energy consumption in unoccupied sections of buildings. They can also detect and diagnose faults, predict routine maintenance, and provide insight into how facilities can cut back on HVAC usage during peak energy demands. Similarly, smart lighting includes advanced controls and sensors that operate lights only when needed, increase efficiency, and enable daylight harvesting.

Agencies that deploy smart building solutions can operate more efficiently. Selecting the right partner for creating or upgrading a smart building means working with experts in emerging technologies. Siemens Government Technologies (SGT) works closely with federal agencies to deliver smart building solutions that increase operational efficiencies, safety, and security throughout federal facilities.

SGT is at the forefront of providing advanced building and security technologies across the Siemens advanced technology portfolio through modular and flexible building automation and integrated energy efficient systems capable of evolving with any facility over time. We are actively working with the U.S. Army to update existing building automation systems using the Siemens Desigo CC building management platform at a wide range of installations including Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely, Alaska, and Fort Drum, New York. We are also completing smart HVAC upgrades, lighting improvements, and expanding existing SCADA systems at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas.

Leverage AI to make buildings autonomous
Make energy reliability and resilience a priority

3. Make energy reliability and resilience a priority

The U.S. Government is the country’s single largest energy consumer and building manager. While this underscores the need to improve energy efficiency, it also highlights the importance of strengthening energy reliability and resilience.

Recent years have seen an increase in severe weather, natural disasters, and cyberattacks that have or could have interrupted energy or water supply at DoD installations. Compromised electrical and water systems negatively affect the health and safety of DoD service members and their families and make it difficult for DoD installations to execute critical missions and sustain readiness. Enhanced energy resiliency measures are necessary.

One solution is microgrids. In 2022, the U.S. Army revealed its climate strategy to install microgrids at each of its 130 bases worldwide. Largely driven by a desire to bring energy independence to their facilities, the U.S. Army’s microgrid initiative echoes the sector’s urgency to increase energy resilience. The U.S. Navy has also set a goal to make its key installations capable of operating off-grid for at least two weeks by late 2025.

At SGT we understand the unique dynamics our military customers face based on their specific mission requirements, and the diversity of infrastructure they rely on to care for their personnel and systems needed to successfully fulfill their national security obligations. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach for microgrids, and whether the goal is to augment renewable energy sources to reduce carbon footprint, or enhance resiliency for grid-independent operations, or both, our team has real world experience delivering flexible solutions in challenging operational environments. 

4. Take a “smart” approach to safety

Safety is critical in all walks of life, but particularly when it involves members of our armed forces and their families. Deploying smart building technologies at installations can drastically improve the safety of its occupants.

Today, smart building management systems can lock down entrance doorways at bases during off hours and reopen them during operating hours. With AI, these systems could automatically open doors for entry during off hours in the event of a fire or other emergency. However, a sophisticated AI system could use motion detectors that direct firefighters or guards to where victims or perpetrators are located in the building.

In times of crisis, seconds matter. By deploying smart building technologies that enable greater connectivity, monitoring, and security, agencies can develop faster, stronger, more comprehensive responses to threats at our nation’s installations. For example, Siemens’ Building X smart building suite of applications helps monitor, track, compare, and visualize access, occupancy, and utilization across buildings and sites. Agencies can securely manage identities, privileges, and on- and offboarding.

Make energy reliability and resilience a priority
Make energy reliability and resilience a priority

Ensure your facilities are smarter, more resilient and responsive

A critical mission of the federal government is to ensure that our nation’s buildings, infrastructure, and operations are secure, efficient, and resilient. As the integrator of Siemens’ comprehensive portfolio of smart infrastructure solutions for federal customers, Siemens Government Technologies provides federal agencies with a streamlined procurement and implementation path for improving operational efficiency, reliability, and cost-savings at installations and depots throughout the country and world.

From building automation and control systems, to mobile microgrids and efficiency-enhancing HVAC and utility upgrades, we leverage Siemens’ global and commercial experience to help federal customers ensure their facilities are smarter, more resilient and responsive. Modernizing and upgrading federal buildings is a top priority for all the services, and we predict enormous progress toward the smart installation of the future in 2023.

Learn more about SGT’s smart infrastructure solutions and how we can help you achieve your mission here.

John Ustica, President and CEO, Siemens Government Technologies (SGT) 

John Ustica is the President and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies (SGT), Inc., the separate but affiliated U.S. government arm of technology powerhouse Siemens. With project teams throughout the U.S. and overseas, SGT is a cleared provider of Siemens products, technologies, and software to solve some of the most complex government challenges in energy, automation and digitalization.

In his role as President and CEO, Ustica leads a dynamic project-focused organization working on transformative initiatives that are unlocking new levels of energy efficiency and resiliency across military bases and depots, with over $1 billion in energy programs and services under contract today. SGT technologists are at the forefront of digital transformation in government, by helping customers deploy product lifecycle management software tools and digital twins connecting the real and virtual worlds to optimize operations, predict outcomes more accurately, and reduce overall costs.

Ustica joined SGT in 2018 as Chief Financial Officer and has more than 20 years’ experience in effectively serving Siemens’ customers around the world. Recognized for his contributions to local communities and industry, Ustica was named to the “Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40” by the Charlotte Business Journal in 2018, and in 2021, he received WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Award as Public Company CFO of the Year for his innovation, expertise and thought leadership within the government contracting space.

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