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EMAIL INTERVIEW – Alper Uzmezler and Therese Sullivan
Uzmezler Explains Expansion into Edge Devices and ML
Sullivan: 2016 was a big year for you in terms of new product introductions and greater awareness of BASSG’s many services. Could you summarize why it was a turning point?
Uzmezler: BASSG has
been involved in commercial building informatics for over a decade,
delivering realistic renderings, dashboarding, energy analytics
programming, integrations, and other services. In 2016, it became clear
where that path was leading—right into the era of machine learning for
buildings. To that point, BASSG was playing a growing role as DevOps
partner to the open-protocol controls industry. Put another way,
leading controls contracting, energy management and commissioning firms
were on a steep learning curve when it came to developing custom apps
for their analytics and visualization projects, and they looked to us
for help. By 2016, BASSG had a product suite that included pipelines
for multi-protocol data transport, data visualization libraries, an
editor for custom UI development, and HTML5 block programming tools. We
could deliver all these tools as a unified environment. The concept of
packaging all this BAS functionality into an edge device was a natural
next step. In mid-2016, we delivered our first Edge Analytics
Controllers (EACs) to beta customers. Yes, that was a pivotal moment
for our company.
Sullivan: Where are you taking this momentum in 2017?
Uzmezler: This January, BASSG
Labs to bring edge analytics controllers (EACs) to market. BASSG has a
thriving service business. A new, separate company focused on product
innovation was needed to realize the potential of edge computing. Anka in Turkish myth is a bird,
akin to the Phoenix, that cyclically regenerates itself. Anka Labs’
goal is to breathe new life into buildings through the deployment of
edge analytics controllers and related innovations. Anka will work at
the frontier of control automation informatics and lead in machine
learning approaches to smart buildings. Each building is a unique
'living' system. Wrangling data into customized workflows that make
building equipment work in symbiotic harmony with occupant activities
is not a trivial task. Anka Labs will offer tools and services that
cater to all the challenges involved.
Sullivan: You recently announced the open-source release of Project Builder Plus (PB+). Why open source one of your popular software utility tools?
Uzmezler: I think the
building controls industry could be innovating at a faster pace. And I
think building owners would be faster to adopt data-driven ways of
operating their properties if they did. We know that the time
investment required to prepare data for analytics and visualization is
a big stumbling block. Project Builder Plus is a great tool for
learning the Project Haystack methodology. It is designed to make it
easy to work on large files of raw building data from your desktop
computer. It includes a robust editor and test files with predefined
Haystack tags that can be extended with custom tags. It’s like a
starter kit for getting onboard with standard semantic data modeling
and web services for applications in automation, control, energy, HVAC,
lighting, and other building systems. Project Haystack is all about
unlocking value from all the digital data streaming from equipment,
devices, and occupants in buildings today. PB+ just makes the process
of deploying Haystack easier.
Sullivan: So, generally, you are a believer in the power of open source as key to your business model?
Open source is the way to speed project development, lower costs and
secure a longer useful life for your software—all because you can
leverage a vibrant community of other developers with a common
interest. One reason that I’m active in open-source projects like
Project Haystack and Sedona BMS Framework is that it’s a great way to
build your reputation and gain trust within the open BAS community.
Edge analytics controllers incorporate both Sedona code and Haystack
Sullivan: How has the market responded to the availability of EACs?
Uzmezler: Projects that incorporate Edge Analytics Controllers are multiplying fast. Less than a year ago, the first beta EACs were delivered to select BASSG customers. Just last week the first pilot carrying the new Anka Labs official licensing began collecting data and controlling equipment. Successful proof-of-concept projects include; a controls engineering project deploying EACs paired with Sedona room and field controllers from Ontrol. In this pilot, R-ION devices interface with P-ION universal programmable controllers exchanging values in Modbus protocol. Anka EACs trend all the Sedona data and generate customized visuals for the web and mobile access. Other pilots involve other types and brands of equipment and use other supported software protocols. We are proving just how versatile these devices are, especially in the hands of controls experts ready to embrace data-driven approaches to managing building operations. Early feedback is that demand for these devices will be on a steep growth curve in 2017 and beyond.
How do Anka Labs customers work with
EACs and with Anka?
Uzmezler: The EAC
customer tends to have a data engineer/data scientist mindset. There
are so many digital data flows to tap in a building today. It is best
to start with intimate knowledge of the unique characteristics of your
building and come up with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for
comfort, energy use or business goal achievement. Then, at their
affordable price-point, you can place Edge Analytics Controllers
wherever needed to manage according to those KPIs. EACs can be custom
configured to aggregate, control, analyze, optimize, visualize,
connect, cluster – whatever you need to run your building better. Anka
Labs will be growing too, eventually adding more people to offer our
buildings data science expertise as a service.
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