What Is The Internet of Things?

  October 31, 2014

Today's tip about the so-called internet of things, and how it relates to facility management.

Go to any trade show or vendor event these days, and you’re likely to hear sentences like the following: "The convergence of OT (operational technology) and IT (information technology) is leading to an optimized IoT (Internet of Things)." If you're playing Business Buzzword Bingo, you'll just need "Cloud," "Big Data," and "Outside the Box," and you’ve won!

But in all seriousness, the Internet of Things — which is a fancy way of talking about how smart devices can communicate with each other in more efficient, interoperable ways — is a very important concept to understand for any facility manager operating high-performance buildings. The IoT is how buildings will go from dumb, inefficient, and obsolete to smart, high-performance, and state-of-the-art.

In a perfect world, the terms "smart building" and "high-performance building" would be synonymous. But that's certainly not the case these days. It's entirely possible to have fancy energy management system with smart controls, smart meters, and data analytics - and still use much more energy than a traditional building. Either part (or all) of the system isn't working as it was intended, or the system works correctly and points out energy waste, but you don’t do anything about it. What a waste! Essentially, your smart building is using energy rather dumbly.

You may have heard an over-eager, enterprising vendor explain how your controls or your BAS or any other piece of technology is totally set-it-and-forget-it. But that’s never really true, is it? Indeed, the No. 1 reason cited for buildings that don’t perform as energy efficiently as they’re designed is immediate problems with the BAS — controls are set up wrong, the BAS is programmed incorrectly, or somethin' just ain’t workin' quite right.

So even as smart technology and the Internet of Things become integrated more seamlessly into buildings, there's still an important human element to making sure all this technology is working to operate high-performance building as efficiently as they should. That's to say facility managers shouldn't shun these newfangled ideas — they should embrace them, learn how to optimize them, and take advantage of all they can offer.


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