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Building Internet of Things: Making it Work

By Daniel Baker
 
The Building Internet of Things (BIoT) is an extension of the recently popular idea of the Internet of Things (IoT) that involves networking everyday objects together to make life easier. The IoT recently surfaced in popular culture as the next big thing, as it would give users control over all of the everyday items they use, from their bedroom to their car. The IoT has the potential to provide unheard of convenience and energy-saving benefits.

These cost-saving initiatives also can translate to institutional and commercial buildings, and this is where the BIoT can be used. BIoT enables maintenance and engineering managers to view all information necessary to run the plethora of systems within a building as effectively and efficiently as possible. This will save managers money and time because it greatly reduces the time necessary to maintain equipment.

Applications: Lighting
Lighting is a large area in which managers can implement BIoT because technicians can easily monitor and time it. The BIoT can provide managers with real-time information and the ability to offer absolute command over timer and occupancy functions. This means technicians could set lighting during demonstrations and meetings, as well as everyday office use.

Applications: HVAC
Another important aspect within a building that would be convenient to control is the HVAC system. While thermostats and occupancy sensors provide a substantial amount of control, the BIoT has the ability to provide much more.

While many thermostats are set to control spaces or zones, the BIoT could provide control to the individual spaces much more conveniently and cheaply. The manager then could decide to provide each occupant with individual access or control to the most energy-efficient settings, all of which the BIoT could pre-determine.

Application: Laboratories
When managers realize the potential of BIoT technology, it becomes apparent in how many different areas it can provide benefits. In particular, technicians need to control laboratories and hospitals so specifically that allowing the BIoT to control these parameters would provide much more accurate results than relying on existing, non-networked systems. The BIoT could provide pressure and temperature control that existing systems might not be able to. These network-controlled parameters could save lives in the event of an emergency.

Application: Fire and Life Safety
In case of fire, the BIoT could control the building to vent smoke out of hallways and provide safe passage for occupants and visitors. The BIoT also could provide the potential for the system to dial 911 not only in case of a fire but for other emergencies, such as medical assistance needed and shootings.

Application: Energy Efficiency
Not only can managers use BIoT technology for life, air, and fire safety. They also can use it to provide thousands of dollars in energy savings. Simply having the ability to track a facility’s energy use provides a significant potential for savings, and the BIoT can supply the additional step of controlling to the most efficient energy use possible. The BIoT could provide specific lighting and HVAC schedules for occupied and unoccupied times.

The BIoT offers a more personal approach to building control and large-scale control. Technicians can network the BIoT to control office conveniences and to set the office coffee maker, keep leftover lunches cool, and even provide daily news and weather. Of course, the managers would have control over the entire system, allowing for the most efficient and comfortable environment possible.

Application: Security
The BIoT can provide much more than environmental comfort and safety. Most buildings use some security system for their occupants, including cameras, card readers, and biometric data. Technicians can network BIoT to provide enhanced security and even realize certain patterns to provide safety for occupants.

Looking forward
At this point, managers might ask themselves if they would be safe from malicious attacks from hackers or viruses. Among the major drawbacks of the current BIoT technology is the potential for hacking and malicious software. Developers are making new upgrades to fight potential attacks, and much of the available technology provides sufficient security for most institutions.

Much of this technology is not new. If a facility does not use at least some of this technology, managers are wasting resources. In this day and age, it is imperative that all buildings use at least a monitored if not fully networked system. The energy-saving potential far outweighs the initial cost.

BIoT technology has the potential to fully network and optimize all buildings. For the average manager, this could mean thousands of dollars in savings per year. For many others, it means enhanced security and life safety that otherwise might have gone overlooked or been unavailable. BIoT is the next necessary step managers and owners must take to continue providing the necessary comfort and security for building occupants and visitors.

Daniel Baker is a field engineer with Horizon Engineering Associates, www.horizon-engineering.com