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Lately, it seems that a day doesn’t go by where I don’t have a meeting or casual conversation about artificial intelligence. Tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney have captured the world’s attention and people are flocking to them to conduct research, write articles or create artwork.
Of course, as a journalist, I’m bothered by this rapid acceptance of unknown technologies. There are many legal and ethical issues at stake — for example, ChatGPT doesn’t source where it gets its information from, but some of it sure sounds like it came from FacilitiesNet. These tools are also far from perfect. When I asked it to write an article about the history of our company, Trade Press Media Group, the copy was riddled with errors.
Although I don’t think AI will take my job or we’re destined for a future depicting “The Matrix,” I also can’t ignore the technology. It may prove to be a tool that can help me do my job more efficiently. While I won’t use it to write articles, AI can help me summarize details, brainstorm questions and research concepts — like it did for this editorial.
The same sentiment is true for facility managers. AI is not going to replace the need for actual humans to operate commercial and institutional buildings. But, the technology can aid their efforts.
For example, facility managers know that reactive maintenance is an inefficient and costly way to run a building. Teams shouldn’t be reacting to problems and putting out fires — they should be preventing them from ever happening. For that reason, many facility managers desire to move their operations to a preventive maintenance strategy.
With AI, efforts can be taken even further to a predictive maintenance outlook. Through the Building Automation System and Internet of Things technology, AI can use the collected data to predict when equipment will likely fail, helping departments optimize their maintenance schedules and reduce downtime. Another example is using AI to help improve energy usage by analyzing occupancy data, past energy usage and weather forecasts to adjust temperature settings and lighting controls.
AI is still in its infancy and we don’t know where the technology will take us or how it will be regulated. For now, it’s to be examined and explored before making any rash decisions — such as cutting your department in half.
However, AI is here — and here to stay. Like other new technology before it, AI will simply be another tool in the facility manager arsenal. With fewer workers available or even interested in facility management, departments will have to do more with less regardless of whether they use AI technology. However, those that utilize AI will likely find it easier to accomplish those additional tasks.