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March 2017
Interview

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EMAIL INTERVIEWAlper Uzmezler and Therese Sullivan

Alper Uzmezler Explains Expansion into Edge Devices and ML

Anka Labs’ goal is to breathe new life into buildings through the deployment of edge analytics controllers and related innovations.

Alper ‹zmezler

Alper ‹zmezler,
BASSG LLC.

&

Therese SullivanTherese Sullivan,
Principal,
BuildingContext Ltd

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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?

AnkaUzmezler:  This January, BASSG launched Anka 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?

Uzmezler:  Absolutely. 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 modeling support.

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.

Anka EAC

Sullivan:  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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