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Building Automation Is on a Journey to the Edge




By Ken Sinclair

I am always playing with words. When I cannot find the words to express myself. I create my own. Here is another one: edge-ification, the process of moving intelligence and control to the edge.

Why am I so edgy? In my mind, our journey to the edge is a big thing. There is a joke in our industry that we are always moving toward or away from centralization. We are definitely moving away from centralized clouded thinking and moving our thoughts to humanized mindful interacting edge devices. With intelligent self-learning edge devices and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) moving to the edge, the future cloud will more resemble the library containing our tools to build our self-sufficient edge devices and be the information banks for these bot-like devices.

We need to now "Open Our Minds, Youthfully, Mindfully and Quickly."

Please read our review Edge-You-Cation: "Learning about our journey to the Edge.” I was pleased with our last chapter of the never-ending story of our transformation: Open Software, Open Hardware, and Open Minds

The review has high impact and delivers the message well of the power of an approachable open mind. To that open mind, I would like to add words and the concepts of edge-you-cation and edge-ification.

Please tolerate my bending of the English language to make a few edgy points.

Leo has provided his thoughts about the changes we all need to make in education to move forward. I have pulled a few quotes from his October article, Education, the Never Ending Story: “We need to take an ‘Agile’ approach to education and teach students what they need to know ‘now’ and not wait for 2 to 4 years before they can apply that knowledge” — Leo SaLemi, professor, program coordinator, George Brown College.

“An example of how our ‘agile’ approach keeps the curriculum current is demonstrated when back in April of this year Contemporary Controls released the BASpi, an add-on shield for the Raspberry Pi that is programmed using Sedona making it a great tool to teach DDC. In September (now) each of the 40 students in their final year was issued a kit consisting of a Windows10 Insignia notebook/tablet, a Raspberry Pi, a BasPi, an Arduino, an ESP8266 and an assortment of sensors. They will learn ‘how-to-learn’ to program with Sedona and then set up their own DDC to control real actuators, pumps, VFDs using a real-time temperature, flow, and level PID process. Most of the learning will occur using online videos where the student can learn at their own pace and the in-class time will be used for the hands-on portion and demonstrations. (Note, this course also teaches DDC using Reliable Controls.)”  

We are nominating Leo SaLem our "AutomatedBuilidings.com Edge-You-Cator of the Year."

Leo has been in the industry almost as long as me. As your can see by his bio below, he has kept an open mind and is vested deeply in edge-ifcation. 

"Leo SaLemi began teaching at George Brown College (Toronto) 35 years ago when he was hired to teach industrial instrumentation and controls to address the skill shortages of the early ‘80s. Today he teaches and coordinates the three-year electromechanical technology – building automation program and will be the first to admit that the curriculum created when the program was first launched in 2013 had next to nothing on IoT, Raspberry Pi, MQTT, Sedona, AI or cloud computing simply because they did not exist at the time or were not mainstream yet. And now things like edge analytics, far field voice, BIM FM, and emotional buildings are making their way to into the building automation sectors, so we need to move fast and keep pace with these changes, which becomes a challenge when it can take two or more years to implement a change in the curriculum or add a new course."

In this article, Advocating For A Hands-On Approach to BAS Training, more on taking education to the edge:

“Use control components in the simulators that are as ‘generic’ as possible and cover all the bases.

“Companies like Lynxspring offer Tridium Niagara JACE/Edge controllers in open-licensed versions, and also offer a broad spectrum of ancillary DDC components.  Non-licensed, non-proprietary BACnet communicating, Sedona-programmed controllers produced by companies like Contemporary Controls and Easy IO are great candidates for use in BAS simulators.

“Curriculum and the simulator units should be ‘modularized’ so that when one topic or component needs to be updated it can be done without the need to replace the entire system. In the article titled ‘Education the Never Ending Story,’ Leo SaLemi rightly states, “We need to take an ‘Agile’ approach to education....”

This article from our contributing editor Mark Petock provides insight about how we are changing from muddled middleware to Edge using the cloud and distributed environments. 

The New Dialogue in Smart Buildings: “Today, most have embraced the fact that technology is game changing and is the cornerstone of operating buildings as an economic model” — Marc Petock, Chief Communications Officer, Vice President, Marketing, Lynxspring Inc.

This change is part of Building Emotion Connects the Physical, Virtual, and Emotional Worlds that is evolving as a social fabric providing the connection between our human contents and building functions and fits with our previous discussion of building better building bots

Exploring the value of intelligent edge devices and their interaction with building inhabitants and their space as well as their interaction as intelligent bots with each other.

New technologies are exploring the ability to speak almost natural language and, since their natural language has become part of interaction programs such as WhatsApp, these devices can now join in the conversation.

This is an exciting new world where we can interact with each other and our smart building bots to create a relationship and a virtual fabric while creating building emotion. My thoughts now are turning to my next chapter which will address the opportunity and potential clarity of "Edge-ifcation" — moving the murky muddled middle to the Edge.

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.


posted on 10/26/2018