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December 2017
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A Perspective on the IoT for Buildings

As the community of professionals, service companies, engineers, and vendors that serve building owners, we should be doing all we can to clarify and simplify these topics and reduce the noise around IoT technologies for buildings.
John Petze

John Petze,
Co-Founder, Partner, SkyFoundry

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The term IoT seems to be used almost everywhere these days. A steady stream of articles talks about the IoT and the “IoT market” often implying it is a single tangible thing. In many ways, it’s good to have a simple name for something we want to talk about - how else would we hype things? And, the focus on IoT term has been helpful in that it has created societal awareness of the capabilities and benefits of new technologies for connecting and managing devices and deriving value from their data. That said, the hype being generated around the IoT is leading to confusion among building owners and operators.

A Definition

The reality is that there is no such thing as the “IoT” or IoT market.” In fact, the Internet of Things is not a thing at all. The IoT refers to a range of technologies that allow us to connect devices and their data in new, more cost-effective ways to achieve new and better solutions for owners and operators. Core to this is the ability to collect and analyze equipment and operational data to provide more cost-effective and performance-effective operating results for buildings.

The Search for Simplicity
Managing and operating buildings isn’t simple. There are many technologies involved, from the "hard" assets - the physical equipment - chillers, air handlers, that require good old mechanical engineering knowledge and skills, to the many computer-based systems that require IT, data and computer skills.  Now we add to that a new generation of “IoT” technologies.

It is also important not to forget the many "constituencies" involved in designing, constructing operating and managing buildings. They have different responsibilities and perspectives based on their roles and the incentives that surround their piece of the puzzle. It is not uncommon for there to be a lack of coordination among these groups and budgeting systems often make it difficult to invest in technologies that cross budgetary boundaries and areas of responsibilities. Combine these factors together, and we have very fertile ground for confusion and impediments to the successful use of IoT technologies and device data.

As the community of professionals, service companies, engineers, and vendors that serve building owners, we should be doing all we can to clarify and simplify these topics and reduce the noise around IoT technologies for buildings. We should resist becoming an echo chamber for the hype that naturally occurs around new, and admittedly, exciting technology.

Control Solutions, Inc Some ideas on things we can do to help:

The next great wave of change in operating buildings is upon us. While it won’t result in an overnight reinvention of the buildings market, it’s up to us to take hold of these technologies and challenges and deliver value to owners and operators.


About the Author

John Petze is a partner and Co-Founder of  SkyFoundry, the developers of SkySpark™, an analytics platform for building, energy and equipment data. John has over 30 years of experience in building automation, energy management, and M2M, having served in senior-level positions for manufacturers of hardware and software products including Tridium, Andover Controls, and Cisco Systems. At SkyFoundry he works to bring the next generation of information analytics to the “Internet of Things.”

More information on SkySpark® analytics is available at www.skyfoundry.com

                                                                                                                                     
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