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February 16, 2017
- Building Automation
By Ken Sinclair
Satisfaction and productivity of corporate assets, "their people," is an ongoing dynamic survey of human cognition that is creating new performance metrics from the data from our buildings. We are all struggling to develop mushy measurement methods of cognitions of well-being, satisfaction, stress, innovation, and contribution to corporate purpose. Of course, comfort — both temperature and lighting — need to be provided as basic services with expected energy efficiency.Our five education sessions at AHRExpo this year in Vegas and the further discussions with industry thought leaders allowed us a better understanding of our mission to be the “Catalysis / Harbinger of The IoT Future of Building Automation.”
There is an information storm blowing, the constant IoT rain pouring from the cloud, the accumulating self-learning puddles on the edge and occasional showers from the traditional building automation industry.It is a major concern that people assets in our buildings are not presently satisfied or as productive as they could be. To crack this nut, I believe we need to start with the process to get the cognitions of these assets. Neither satisfaction or productivity are easy to define and involve obtaining deep knowledge of each asset’s personal self-esteem, well-being, stress, innovation level, and contribution to corporate purpose. We have never had a direct feedback path from occupancy assets, but we now have a start of a feedback loop woven around social media, video analytics, and smartphone interactions.Only a few adventurous folks have entered this new frontier. How do we communicate in the language of satisfaction? We cannot connect these human assets to a wire and use a protocol as we do most of our sensed variables. Will we have these valuable people assets talk with Alexa? Will they "Hey, Google" their wishes? Will they text us? Email us? Cut us some slack? Yes, we will likely need to support all these methods as they reflect individual personalities.There are some interesting developments occurring with video analytics tracking human emotion as an IoT telemetric value. This YouTube video, “Understanding emotions using the Google Vision API — Office and Smart Buildings,” gives you a quick insight.
This month's article, From Data to Insights: What We’re Doing, How, and Why by Stephen Dawson-Haggerty, CTO, Comfy, speaks well to this, with yes, we do have an app for that.“Every day, billions of people move through the thoughtfully designed and engineered spaces of their offices. And yet, far too many workplace professionals who are tasked with creating the best possible work environments are ‘flying blind’ with only a hazy idea of how the spaces they manage are used. Are people using the new wellness room? Is it increasing productivity and satisfaction or simply draining resources? And, perhaps most importantly, are people comfortable, or are they opting out of the office to work remotely from someplace that better meets their needs?“All of these questions involve people. Unfortunately, traditional building technologies primarily focus on measuring the operational performance of individual pieces of equipment, and have a limited ability to address ever-changing human needs. This is where Comfy really shines — we combine data about the building with real-time data from people to reveal truly insightful information. Over the last three years, we've proudly shared Comfy's trends and usage patterns to drive the conversation for more people-centered workplaces. What we kept hearing from clients over and over again was, ‘Give me more! Tell me more about my office.’"The future workplace will leverage advanced technology to understand, predict, and accommodate employees' preferences.Please join our mission and help create satisfaction and productivity as the new measured variables. Create a change in thinking and attitudes that focuses on these new values including the budgets to support and the resources to execute.This article also speaks well to the changes that are rapidly falling on us: Alexa — Make My Building Run Better! All devices installed in a building, such as boilers, chillers, generator sets, electric sub-meters, pumps, VAV controllers, fire panels, etc. should be smart and have their own individual cloud points-of-presence and applications, just as consumer devices do — Varun Nagaraj, President, CEO, Sierra Monitor Corporation.“How do these lessons apply to the building automation and control and facility management market? “Firstly, all devices installed in a building, such as boilers, chillers, generator sets, electric sub-meters, pumps, VAV controllers, fire panels, etc., should be smart and have their own individual cloud points-of-presence and applications, just as consumer devices do. Device and system manufacturers need to turn their electro-mechanical devices into smart devices with a cloud presence. The facility manager should insist that their vendors have this capability. Doing so, in effect, forcing every vendor to provide an app, is good not only for the facility manager but for all the vendors as well, because it greatly improves the vendor’s ability to continue to add value to the facility manager with better service and operational insights.“For devices that are already installed and are pre-cloud, the facility manager should implement a common facility device cloud that automatically discovers all the automation and control devices in the facility, for example, all the BACnet-based devices in the building, and creates a virtual cloud instance for each device. Once all the devices and sub-systems (and their access and data) are represented in the cloud, the facility manager should develop their own Alexa-inspired BMS. An integrated point of control that is intuitive and fun to use. Will it be as easy as the home Alexa? Maybe not, but that should be the goal. “Sure, the naysayers will grumble first about the lack of standard data models. I’d like to point out that the Echo / Alexa use case does not require standard data models — the RESTful APIs published by each device vendor — are good enough. The naysayers will talk about security. I would argue that securing a home with a new-born baby may be just as important as securing a facility — so let’s accept that security is a serious issue that must always be front and center, but it’s an issue that applies across sectors.“Am I going out on a limb to make a point? Of course. If that’s what it takes to get what I want for the New Year … having our community think about reinventing the BMS.”My job is 2B the "Catalysis / Harbinger of The IoT Future of Building Automation."Which simply involves throwing balls in the air in hopes someone will catch them and build our industry on them.A foundation of rolling balls is worst than sand, but you could get buried looking for bedrock. Enjoy your IoT future. Ken Sinclair is the founder, owner, and publisher of an online resource called AutomatedBuildings.com. He writes a monthly column for FacilitiesNet.com about what is new in the Internet of Things (IOT) for building automation.