New Content Updates
Educational Webcast Alerts
Building Products/Technology Notices
Access Exclusive Member Content
By Edward Sullivan, Editor
Building Automation Article Use Policy
Intelligent buildings. Smart technology. The Building Internet of Things. Digitalization. Call it what you will, a rapidly growing number of facility products are capable of generating, gathering, reporting, and analyzing data. That trend is most striking in this section.One important development is the appearance of a new category of facility technology: platforms. There’s no single definition of a platform. Some are purely cloud-based software. When hardware is required, it’s usually modest in scope compared to a building automation system. Some platforms even have a service component.The wide variety of offerings that call themselves platforms can muddy the waters for facility managers, so it’s important to look closely.For example, many platforms say they can improve control of a building. And some say they are much less expensive than a BAS. But facility managers shouldn’t assume that a platform is anything like a BAS. While some offer control capabilities, these are typically overlays or add-ons that send instructions to the BAS or some other building system. That’s not to suggest they don’t add value. Platforms typically have deep roots in data aggregation and analysis, and often feature user-friendly, mobile-optimized interfaces. But this sort of platform isn’t an alternative to BAS.To make things more complex, a few full-fledged BAS are now starting to call themselves platforms. And there are platforms designed for portfolios small or medium size buildings (branch banks, convenience stores, etc.) that are essentially mini-BAS. These offerings may provide multi-system control and remote monitoring.Facility managers should also be aware that some platforms are tied to specific pieces of hardware, like sensors or meters, though these platforms may be able to share data with other software platforms or building systems.Analytics toolsAt the heart of many platforms is powerful analytics software. Analytics tools range from reporting to fault detection and diagnostics, or FDD. FDD tools are primarily focused on HVAC systems at the present, but the next step is to go beyond HVAC to get metrics for the overall building. “That’s where I think it’s going,” says Jim Sinopoli of Smart Buildings, LLC.Indoor positioning systems are another technology that promises to make buildings smarter, says Sinopoli. The systems use Bluetooth beaconing to identify where people are in a building. “Most building owners have no idea how many people have been in their building in one day or one week,” he says, adding that airports are using indoor positioning systems to provide a wayfinding tool or to identify how many people are in a terminal. Email comments and questions to email@example.com.
Rapidly Growing Number of High-Tech Products Can Generate, Report, and Analyze Facility Data