Facility leaders share their thoughts on what to expect this year and beyond
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As facility managers evaluate their options for making buildings smarter, they should take a close look at how those B-IoT devices will communicate and share data.
“B-IoT requires multi-vendor capabilities to maintain the customer-driven market for building automation,” says Bernhard Isler, who served on the IT working group that developed BACnet Secure Connect (BACnet S/C) and is systems architect at Siemens Switzerland Ltd., smart infrastructure, building products. Along with established standards such as BACnet and Zigbee, Isler believes these emerging B-IoT devices may be based on Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards.
“Many cloud platforms are capable of connecting with a digital representation of the building, and so become part of the B-IoT,” notes Isler. “Such solutions frequently use and profit from standards-based BAS due to their interoperability properties.”
B-IoT and BAS
To a facility manager, B-IoT and the BAS may look similar. They both provide windows to building data that can be used to optimize building performance and conserve energy. But that’s where the similarity ends.
“The building automation system actually performs the moment-to-moment monitoring and control of buildings and their operating equipment,” Fisher says. “This can involve many disciplines, including HVAC, lighting, security, elevators, and many other complex elements. Those systems are increasingly co-dependent and in many cases require deep interoperability from different vendors and different disciplines."
B-IoT is not for direct control of the building or interaction between devices, says Fisher. “B-IoT is for providing information to systems outside of the building space.”
Fisher points out that, even for machine learning and analytics applications, the BAS is the source for the information. “What building owners might legitimately want to do is use B-IoT mechanisms to share BAS information with remotely located services, such as cloud services, for monitoring building operations and using machine learning and analytics to do complex analyses, optimizations, and so forth,” explains Fisher.
Osborne provides some other examples of B-IoT with external access to the BAS. “Providing a BAS with additional information can enhance the comfort of the occupants and save energy,” Osborne explains. “A B-IoT service can analyze a building so the owner can better manage the building’s performance. Providing occupants with devices that allow them to ask the system to cool their space instead of manually adjusting a thermostat enhances the occupant experience.”
With external access to the BAS, of course, comes some risk. To mitigate this risk, the facility manager must ensure paths into and out of the building are cyber secure. “FMs must be aware of where the external data is coming from and who is receiving that data,” says Osborne. Facility managers also must be sure that the newly installed B-IoT thermostat, for example, does not provide third party add-ons that could compromise the device and thus the BAS.
Interoperability standards can ensure data sharing among BAS devices. But that means semantic information on that data needs to be consistent so that it can be accessed in an interoperable way, notes Isler. Developing standardized ways of naming things also increases data sharing capabilities.
“This will include applications from construction engineering, building system engineering, smart grid interaction, predictive maintenance, constant commissioning, user interactions, facility management, enterprise applications, and many more,” says Isler.
How Does the Building Internet of Things Compare with Current BAS?