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The Uberization of Comfort, Satisfaction, and Wellbeing

By Ken Sinclair

The fastest growing businesses in the world, such as Uber and Airbnb, using tools like disintermediation and price transparency, create a marketing model that brings buyers and sellers together in an efficient, regulated, and innovative manner.

Also known as shareconomy, collaborative consumption, or peer economy, a common academic definition of the term refers to a hybrid market model (in between owning and gift giving) of peer-to-peer exchange. Such transactions are often facilitated via community-based online services.  Uberization is also an alternative name for the phenomenon.

From Analytics Creates Transparency: Is That Good for Your Business? by James Lee, CEO and president, Cimetrics Inc., I have pulled this quote:

“This trend is typical of how ‘software eats the world.’ Uber creates transparency on your transportation needs from initial ride request all the way to payment; compare that with the unknowns of hailing a taxi.
We are just returning from a few days of living in San Francisco, and we have been ‘Uberized’; an amazing simplification of what was a frustrating experience into the personal driver on demand app. A fun, sustainable way to move around a city. The leap to autonomous electrical vehicles is not hard to imagine.”

In areas where Uber is not available, it is morphing the politically controlled Taxi into new performance partnerships in which they are actually improving their services. Change drives change, but how will it change our industry?

Not all references to Uber are positive, as it is a digital disruptive business at the front of the social wave of change. As an industry it is our challenge to extract the easy and efficiency of the concept and apply it to improving our connection and correction of comfort, satisfaction, and wellbeing.

Change is happening, as depicted in this extremely well read last month's article Cope with the IOT Revolution by Staying Agile by Brad White, P.Eng, MASc, principal, and Christopher Naismith, BASc, EIT, LEED GA, energy efficiency engineer, SES Consulting Inc. “As the smart building industry rapidly evolves, management strategies pioneered by software developers can help us successfully adapt.”

So how can our industry use "Uber" thinking to deliver comfort, satisfaction, and wellbeing and become a major player in the productivity arena? How are we positioning and exploring nontraditional partnerships in our industry to support an Uber-think approach, to providing our services focused on satisfaction, care, documented well-being, and measured productivity improvement?

In this article Location-Based Capabilities, The Comfy Team, a productivity pioneer, asks: “When was the last time you requested something and got it immediately, exactly where and when you wanted it?”

Fromt the article: “My Locations is just the first of more location-based capabilities we will be unveiling for Comfy. As today’s workforce becomes increasingly tech-savvy and mobile, we’re committed to helping each and every person be their best self at work — which includes making Comfy easier to use, everywhere.”

Check out this interview with Stefan Storey, Ph.D. co-founder and CEO of Sensible Building Science (SBS).

Storey says: “We are dedicated to helping building owners and managers attain comfortable and energy efficient buildings with our automated virtual occupancy metering solutions.”
Storey: Virtual occupancy metering (VOM) is a method of people-counting without the need for physical sensors. It’s like Google Traffic, but for indoor environments. Our solution, called Bridge, uses existing Wi-Fi activity data to generate VOM data and enable occupant-demand control of building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, without the need to install new equipment such as motion detectors, video cameras, or physical sensors.

In this interview, George Hernandez, principal technical advisor, Buildings-to-Grid Integration and Buildings Controls Research Program Manager, PNNL, provides on update on VOLTTRON: “An agent based open-source distributed control and sensing platform for buildings, the power grid, and the integration of the two to support the deployment of energy efficiency and grid services to increase consumer benefits.” It is a deployment platform from which commercial enterprises can develop and sell products without license constraints and an easily integrate solution into their product lines; a tool that can accelerate the industry adoption of transactive based controls, advanced building energy analytics, and new pioneering energy-related applications and algorithms; and a Linux-based software solution that is the ‘engine’ for robust cyber secure solutions connecting devices, data, storage, transactions, decision, and control.

How is this actually being used? This from Nigel David BSc, MSc, Ph.D. Lead Researcher SES Consulting: “Moving forward, we plan to continue prototyping a VOLTTRON-based energy audit and recommissioning service, making use of its core functionality. We want to get the tool in the hands of our engineers as soon as possible so that we can focus our development in the right areas, using an agile approach. I’m delighted to hear that PNNL is continuing to play a leadership role in the research community and that they are working hard to move towards an open source software foundation and community.”

Other platforms are evolving as well. Consider EdgeX Foundry - Vendor-Neutral, Open-Source, which will simplify IoT development and deployment for a wide variety of applications.

Our contributing editor, Therese Sullivan, points out in her article  this month, “Facebook announced at its mid-April F8 developer's conference that it intends to make its in-app camera the first Augmented Reality platform. It is not waiting for AR glasses to be perfected. Occupants playing with the ‘fridgenotes’ feature could become a facilities manager’s worst nightmare. Or property managers could get ahead of this feature and incorporate this mode of occupant feedback into their workflow processes.”

These articles talk about transformative change: 

Investing in Occupant Comfort: How Thermal Comfort Enhances Productivity, and How to Achieve It by Brenna Buckwalter, marketing manager, BuildPulse.

Using Analytics to Make the Switch From Reactive to Proactive:  How Facility Teams are Driving Change by Buckwalter and Eric Feeny, customer acquisition, BuildPulse.

The obvious Haystack Impact of all this is the naming requirement of a lot more things and services so these virtual services can be self-discovered and machine manipulated on demand.

The lighting piece of our productivity puzzle is also driving us toward lighting as an Uber-like service. A large topic for another column.
Our challenge to extract the easy and efficiency of the concept and apply it to improving our connection and correction of comfort, satisfaction, and wellbeing.

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.

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posted on 5/17/2017