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August 2017
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Do You Know Your BACnet Network?

Monitor your network to stop problems from growing.
Monica McMahen
Monica McMahen,
Marketing Manager,
Optigo Networks

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BACnet networks are pretty predictable. Apart from new device additions, the network activity is normally very regular and regimented: lighting and HVAC go on and off according to tenants’ needs, while surveillance and security systems remain on. Problems like devices dropping offline, breakers restarting, and a slow network don’t just suddenly erupt out of nowhere… Or at least, they shouldn’t. The reality is, without a solid knowledge of your BACnet network, you could be in for a lot of bad surprises.

Site Monitoring

You need to monitor your BACnet network in order to anticipate issues and respond proactively. This is easier said than done, though. To gain that deep understanding, you would need periodic packet captures (pcaps): at least at the beginning and end of the day, and maybe even more, depending on the system. These sporadic captures will show how the network is behaving in response to different variables.

But who wants to put in that time? Who even has that kind of time? To get those regular captures, you would have to trek down to the site; sit for an hour, waiting to get a capture; load the capture into Visual BACnet or Wireshark; and finally start assessing the health of your network. Do that two (or more) times a day, and that’s a lot of time and energy to get a regular read on your BACnet health.

This is exactly why Optigo Networks has released two innovative new features for Visual BACnet: Capture Service and BACnet Site Monitoring. These solutions get you on familiar terms with your BACnet network, so you can track health over time and preempt potential problems.

The Capture Service allows users to schedule regular pcaps on an hourly, daily, or irregular basis. Instead of waiting around for a packet to capture, you can focus on other priorities — or, focus on getting some sleep, if your devices start coming online at 3 a.m. Those scheduled pcaps will automatically upload straight into Visual BACnet.

After your scheduled pcaps have loaded into Visual BACnet, you can look at the network health score and drill down into the network’s behaviour. Visual BACnet puts your pcap file through a series of health checks and calculates a concrete network health score: 100% is good, and 0% is a failing grade. Clicking into the network health score lets you deep dive to better understand what went wrong on your network, while graphs and other visualizations help you quickly pinpoint patterns and problems.

Control Solutions, Inc BACnet Site Monitoring alerts you when anything changes on your smart building network. Email notifications will warn you if the health score drops below a threshold or changes too much. With these alerts, you’ll know the instant there’s a problem, and can pinpoint exactly what went wrong, when, and how. If you have a new deployment on a multi-vendor site and spot an issue, you can call your contractor back the same day they install; no extra costs to fix problems caused by new deployments and updates.

One of the beta testers for BACnet Site Monitoring quickly saw the benefits to these notifications. One day, some new devices were added to the network. The installation seemed to go well, and the contractor finished up the job. When the beta tester checked their email, though, they saw a steep drop in network health: it went from 78% to 0% in a single day. Because they quickly saw the network issues and could pinpoint when and why this happened, they were able to pull their contractors back in the next day. The problems were resolved, and the beta tester wasn’t charged for the emergency call.

Keeping tabs on your BACnet network is the only way to monitor, troubleshoot, and maintain its health. A keen understanding of the system’s patterns and behaviours can show you problems you didn’t even know existed: whether an issue is simmering under the surface, or pops up suddenly because of a big network change. Take control of your smart building network today, with Site Monitoring.

Watch our video to learn more about Optigo’s new Capture Service and BACnet Site Monitoring!

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