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HVAC: Born Again Connected

By Ken Sinclair

We need to imagine what every HVACR product would look like if it was "born again connected."

Perception of our reality is everything. We need a method to disconnect from all that we perceive and imagine ourselves "born again connected."

I am now starting to understand that this is not just a problem for me; others are struggling while trying to understand what being born connected might be like. 

My Millennial contributing editors are now starting to share the problem as Generation Z is upsetting their thinking as they once did mine. Everyone needs a younger mentor — even your younger mentors.

9 Important Insights about Generation Z, by Sean McDowell.   

“1. Digital Natives: While Millennials grew up in a technologically savvy and connected world, younger members of Generation Z cannot remember a world without the Internet. They grew up swiping an iPad before they learned how to talk and are the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones. Teenage members of Gen Z are connected nearly every waking hour of the day.

“2. Entrepreneurial: Gen Zers have been raised with businesses such as Uber and airbnb, seeing how easy and simple it is to use your own time and resources to make money. 72% of older members of Gen Z want to start their own business.”

Read the complete article for the other items on his list.

This article from Nicolas Waern, our contributing editor, still haunts me: Born Connected – The Next Generation of OEMs.

“The products which are born connected have the possibility to solve a lot of the challenges prior to even becoming problems in the first place. Adding the possibilities for connectivity enables OEMs to get to a ‘born connected’ strategy which has many benefits. This is not only for the OEMs but also for the customers and other stakeholders in the total value chain. The benefits are the ones described above, but it’s also a paradigm shift on how things are done and will be done in the future.”

I would argue that almost all products can, should, and will be born connected.

We just received Nicolas Waern’s next article for our February issue, here is a sneak preview: Are existing companies built to die? 

“This article is about the importance of understanding how and if businesses can capitalize on all the shiny new tech that exists in the market. And how the embryo of a re-born connected strategy might look like. If you are worried that new technology isn’t delivering as expected, and wondering why that is so, then this might be something for you. 

“…If we have a product that is born connected in the left hand, and in the other hand we have this traditional organization that wants to utilize all of this cool new technology, what to do? Can the company be re-born connected? 

“Maybe. But there are a few buts and ifs;

"•    How long would it take to change the organization?

"•    How fast are other organizations moving in the industry? 

"•    What are the threats from other industries moving forward much faster? 

"•    Are the barriers to entry beginning to be removed, making it easier for anyone to innovate?

"•    Are existing channels being re-invented by new players in the market, circumventing existing ways of working?

"•    What are the primary revenue streams of existing businesses and does that correlate to future ones?

"•    How suited is the existing organization to fulfil future needs?

"•    What is the need for the companies products/services on the market?

“Companies need to constantly be trying to disrupt themselves before anyone else does.”  

You need to read this complete article.

Brad White, P.Eng, MASc, president, SES Consulting Inc., and his “Open Dream Team” redefined our definition of an open future at this session at AHRExpo: Open Future of Building Controls and the Role of Buildings in the Climate Emergency. From an email interview with Brad:

“Sinclair:  Sounds exciting, can you give us a few examples?

“White:  The most tangible example I can think of is from one of our panelists, Calvin. He has designed and manufactured his own controller, with plans to open source the design files so that anyone can access those, modify them however they like, and build their own custom controller based on his design. 

“We’ve also been doing more work in launching services for our clients that are based on open source and free software and hardware like Plotly, MongoDB, Google Data Studio, and Volttron. Finally, there are some exciting new projects that aim to bring together BAS hardware and software so that they are no longer inseparable, such as is envisioned by Project Sandstar.  These initiatives move us away from the proprietary and closely coupled hardware and software that is offered by every manufacturer today, to a model more like the IT industry where users are free to choose a combination of best in class hardware and software that best meets their needs.

Born Connected? by Dave Lapsley, managing director, Econowise Group of Companies. “What then should a smart building look like in 2020 and beyond? A smart building is now becoming a very different proposition to anything that has gone before. Referencing the UK-based European Intelligent Building Group, they define an intelligent building as a building that creates the environment that maximizes the effectiveness of its occupants, while at the same time enabling the efficient management of resources with minimum life-time costs of hardware and facilities.

“In order to achieve such environments building systems have to be interoperable and must provide a simple cost-effective means of establishing interconnectivity utilizing standard off the shelf devices to provide information. This information or data as we like to call it will ultimately be analyzed and actioned outside of the conventional building envelope by way of cloud-based services.”

Dave closes this way: “We as professionals in the building automation arena must not underestimate the pivotal role that we play in providing scalable cost-effective platforms. These systems will become vital tools in providing connected smart environments. Generating this data is of significant importance as it will unlock answers and educate consumers with respect to offering a sustainable future for generations to come.

“It is our job or perhaps in many cases vocation to provide ‘connected’, ‘open’ systems that in turn will allow us to ‘connect’ with decision makers and ‘open’ their minds. Without the information that we will ultimately provide to educate, the future of our beautiful, precious yet vulnerable ecosystem will remain surrounded by doubt.“

In this article, Defining the Digital Twin for Buildings, James Dice, energy efficiency innovator, writes that “a modern digital twin needs to include:

“A three-dimensional model — traditional models that describe the building’s physical attributes such as materials and spatial position. 

“Static data — all of the details that add context, from O&M manuals to model numbers to human profiles.

“Streaming data — data from physical building systems and third-party applications like weather feeds.

“Computation — traditional analytics, now being supplemented with AI.

“Human interaction — interaction, feedback, and a user interface for occupants and operators.

“A platform for applications — the middleware connecting everything together.

“Drop any one of these and, in my opinion, you no longer have a modern digital twin.”

Will the robots take over? Thanks To Robots, Humans Are Finally In Demand by Neil Sahota. “So, what can’t robots do?  

“They cannot think. They cannot feel, dream, or imagine. And there are many theorists who suggest they never will. If we really want to ready ourselves and our culture for the new economic reality, we must recognize this surprising truth: Unlike during the previous era, the coming automation age will prize human attributes like never before.… rather than being a zero-sum scourge upon the workforce, the rise of A.I. promises to tilt the nature of work in wonderfully positive, unprecedented ways.”

Here is a quick recap of articles from our January issue:.

Building Engagement Platforms. “The building engagement platform combines previous platform generations on a flattened, secured IP horizontal architecture with the touch points, tools, ingestion of real-time data streams, and workplace applications.”

Embracing the importance of the shift in smart city thinking and action in spite of national and international floundering started us on a journey of deep discussion, "Decarbonization is our Climate Emergency” takes a look at what this topic means to our industry.

Our contributing editor Marc Petock, chief marketing and communications officer, Lynxspring, provided his predictions for the new year. He says that 2020 is the year of the platform — especially open platforms. Lots of other trends discussed as well.

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 2/19/2020