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In 1851, Werner von Siemens designed an electric fire alarm system that was first used in Berlin. It was made up of familiar Siemens pointer telegraphs and alarm units of a special kind, dubbed "fire buzzers."
In addition to the city's 36 police stations, the Ministries of the Interior, War and Foreign Affairs were equipped with pointer telegraphs, as were the royal palace, three barracks, the office of the chief of police, the royal post office and the main fire station. Six secondary fire stations got only a "fire buzzer." This was the first fully planned system of the kind to be installed in Europe, if not the entire world.
But it had its weaknesses. In a major fire, or in a panic, it was often impossible to ensure that the pointer telegraphs would be operated properly. For that reason, Werner von Siemens soon designed a significantly more user-friendly fire alarm: you only had to pull a handle to trigger an alarm automatically at the central station. The device was introduced in 1852, the very year the previous system was completed.
It's not uncommon for conventional fire detectors to be set off by mistake – for example if they interpret steam as smoke and trigger a false alarm. But the new Sinteso S-Line fire detectors of 2004 were largely immune to that kind of error. They contained a variety of sensors for such factors as heat and smoke that were linked via ASA, a new analytical technology developed by Siemens.
The smart fire detectors in the Sinteso line saw a further improvement in 2009. Siemens multi-criteria fire detectors had two optical sensors, one of which was especially sensitive to bright smoke and the other to dark smoke. That enabled the alarms to quickly and reliably detect all kinds of fires, from smoldering to open conflagrations.
They also measured carbon monoxide (CO), a lethal gas that develops during fires. The additional carbon monoxide sensor enables these alarms to detect fires early even in environments with deceptive ambient factors.
In 2007, Siemens developed the fire protection and evacuation system for the 421-meter Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai – the tallest building in China to that date. The building was outfitted with 10,000 fire detectors, 7,700 smoke detectors and 100 system control centers that could detect the slightest puff of smoke. In the event of a fire, they would automatically trigger the programmed evacuation procedure for the total of 88 floors.
Modern building technology also significantly reduced energy consumption. As a result, the energy-saving contracting business model could guarantee certain energy savings, which were used to finance building management. Up to 2007, Siemens had provided energy-saving contracting for some 6,500 building projects all over the world. The guaranteed savings came to about a billion euros and the CO2 reductions amounted to 2.4 million metric tons.
In 2014, Siemens' Desigo CC building automation system set a milestone in building technology. It was the world's first management station to integrate all systems within the building – heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire detection, security, energy management, lighting, window shades and more.
Desigo CC was an open platform based on standard protocols and could adapt flexibly to the building operator's needs. Its developers gave special attention to making the management station intuitive to operate. An intelligent navigation concept led the user step by step through tasks as they arose and displayed only the information needed for an adjustment.
Desigo CC offered a variety of analysis options. For example, it could provide a combined, consolidated display of data from a variety of sources. A past-history analysis against older data helped identify and display trends in the building's performance. Desigo CC was highly scalable, so it could be used in both single-purpose buildings and multiple buildings at distributed locations.
The world's first office built with a 3-D printer opened in Dubai in 2016. The building technology for the 250-square-meter "Office of the Future," including access control and surveillance systems, came from Siemens. It kept both operating costs and energy consumption low.
Siemens' Desigo CC building management system made it possible to control and optimize technical infrastructure, surveillance, air conditioning and access control, all from a central control station. Real-time, individualized display of the various systems' status helped operators precisely track and adjust the building's performance.
The "Office of the Future" concept also used a video surveillance system from Siemens with high-resolution cameras and Internet access via apps and Web clients as well as a biometric access system with smart cards. Multi-sensor fire detectors that adjusted dynamically to changing environments were able to analyze signals for false alarms and protected against such threats as carbon monoxide. For more efficient maintenance, the system could be analyzed, checked and diagnosed via remote access.
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