Facilities managers: Building IoT is about simplification & its success is tied to your knowledge

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Building IoT

A prime example of how the IoT is transforming building automation is the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, as shown in this image. By harnessing the Internet of Things, the Aria Hotel is setting a new standard for the guest experience. Using ZigBee mesh networking technology supplied by Silicon Labs, the Aria treats its guests to the utmost in convenience and personalized luxury.


What is a Building IoT?

The idea of a Building Internet of Things suggests a vague set of new technologies whereas, in fact the Building Internet of Things (IoT) develops from systems and tools that are often commonly used in buildings and so are already widely understood by facilities managers. The aim of a Building IoT is simplification. The success of a Building IoT initiative is tied to your ability to quickly use the tools and maintain them as requirements change.”

How does the Building IoT simplify a building’s technology?
Building IoT is like the On-Board Diagnostics (the OBD-II standard was introduced way back in 1996) systems used on cars. Its arrival simplified maintenance and repair for auto technicians as they could plug into a common interface port of any brand of car, and it would allow them to see what the engine was doing. Building IoT represents that possibility for buildings. You can unlock building data anywhere for reporting and action.

What are the two essential prerequisites of a Building IoT?

OBD assumes that a car has an engine to be diagnosed. Similarly, buildings must have in place a minimum of technology to best reap the rewards from the Building IoT. Two prerequisites are broadband internet access and a well-established network security system.
But beyond the basics, a building automation system (BAS), meters, sensors, analytics software, and a common communications protocol allowing for some degree of interoperability are all the load-bearing requirements of a building IoT system.

What are your goals for a Building IoT?

If you have a BAS then you’re already acting on data from existing systems. In deploying a Building IoT you need to determine what you hope to gain from an IoT system — energy efficiency? to simplify how people in the building interact with the building? to improve the experience for visitors or customers? or perhaps to streamline an industrial process?
Whatever your goals, it’s critical to analyse your current system to understand any limitations and develop possibilities of the future system. Your technology choices for your future Building IoT will be limited or expanded by your current capabilities and architecture.

Tips for implementing a Building IoT

To understand what is currently in place, documenting the existing systems is a good place to start, because detailed documentation of the existing situation will be needed to develop upgrade plans.
This may not be easy as BAS is often a jigsaw puzzle of legacy and new systems that aren’t always backwards compatible. In the same building, if systems like irrigation, fire/life safety, security, vertical transportation, HVAC, and lighting are not connected to a central system, or not speaking the same language, then this makes for more difficulties.
A first-step solution may be to specify BACnet controls, because then systems can talk to each other without requiring an integration system, or intermediate gateway. A common communication protocol enables devices from a huge variety of manufacturers to belong to the same internetwork and interoperate together.

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