June 2012

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Convergence and Collaboration from Cloud Data

The marriage of social media as data and its embedded human opinion will seamlessly mesh with real time data, shoulder to shoulder in large databases in a concept now being billed as Big Data or Data as a Service “DaaS”.

Ken Sinclair,

Energy Manager
Energy Manager

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It has never been clearer that the true convergence and anywhere collaboration that we all seek will be found in a cloud. The marriage of social media as data and its embedded human opinion will seamlessly mesh with real time data, shoulder to shoulder in large databases in a concept now being billed as Big Data or Data as a Service “DaaS”. To move to DaaS means that data—not applications—leads. That’s a significant shift in thinking. We need to adjust our focus to making sure our clients leverage data in the best ways possible to foster innovation.

We are now an industry of data generators whose task is to convert invisible real time data to standards that provide a pipeline to DaaS. The visualization of all this data is where we are now; an industry of data generators whose task is to convert invisible real time data to standards that provide a pipeline to DaaS. The visualization of all this data is necessary both under and in the cloud depending on the audience.

From Toby Considine's column last month (Big Data, Buildings, and the Internet of Things) comes this wisdom: "Buildings have long struggled with big data. They are not designed for storing or to processing too much. System instructions regularly warn to minimize trend reports. Product from a number of leading makers of environmental controls struggle with monitoring just a small portion of the buildings on the UNC campus. Building systems houses all aim at cloud-based analytics in their next release, but each that I have seen struggles with pushing information to the cloud. I have watched very fast networks struggling to handle data collection from a 100 buildings, and watched data edifices crack under the hundreds of gigabytes they produce each week."

I just returned from the Niagara Summit in Las Vegas (www.niagarasummit.com) interviewing industry experts in the below sessions.

It’s All About Open. Open has driven the industry over the last decade and will continue to drive it. Open standards, open protocols, open architecture and open web. Open enables the industry to create value-added applications and solutions. Through an open forum, this session explores the latest in how open is affecting our industry today and how it will in the future.

Visualization, can you afford to do without it? Visualization and displaying data and information have come a long way. Today end users look to visualization to help operate and understand how their facilities are performing or not performing. No more is visualization considered a maybe, but now it plays a very important part in operating high performance buildings. This panel explores the latest trends and provides a look at some of the latest visualization tools and how they are being used.

Our entry into the cloud is a reality and it changes everything but mostly our business models.

From this article in our May issue - The Smartest Green Building
Jim Sinopoli managing principal, Smart Buildings LLC

I have extracted the following example of what I speak.

System Integration
Adhering to the LEED process and standards put the “green” in the building, but what makes it smart? The Integrated Building Management System (IBMS) integrates data from every building system and allows for read or write capability of 13,500 data points. The integration of systems increases the functionality between the building systems, and also provides a suite of software applications and operational tools monitor and manage the building’s performance in real-time.

“The design team worked together to make this project an innovative masterpiece of building design. Without the team collaboration, there would have been missed opportunities,” states Vafaei.

During the design of the IBMS, a “compliance statement” was issued to all system designers. This statement required the use of open communication protocols and databases, as well as submittals of points list, IP addresses, control drawings, and all other pertinent information on the building’s systems. The compliance statement was instrumental in configuring and integrating the systems.

The IBMS can monitor and manage every data point from every building system; that in itself sets a new benchmark. The systems monitored and managed by the IBMS include:
• Elevators
• Waste Water Treatment System
• Mechanical Direct Digital Controls
• Digital Network Lighting Controls
• Power Monitoring and Control System
• Fire Alarm and Detection System
• Solar Energy Collector Metering
• Wind Energy Power Generator Metering
• Interior & Exterior Shade Control System
• Weather Station Monitoring System
• Window Washing System
• Water Reclamation

[an error occurred while processing this directive] The IBMS collects and converts the building systems data into a standard format. The “standardized” data is utilized by a variety of software modules to provide information and manage building operations.

“The integration of all the data points of all the building subsystems is a new model for monitoring and managing a building’s performance – it has not been done before to this level of detail and sophistication ,” states Andres Szmulewicz of Smart Buildings, LLC, the firm that served as IBMS Designer for the project.

The IBMS has some typical BMS applications such as document management, trending, system scheduling and data archiving, but also several applications not available in traditional building management systems including:

• Demand Response – Three demand response (DR) modules were designed for three different levels of energy curtailment. The DR modules can initiate any of the curtailment strategies by sending commands to the appropriate sub-system data points.
• Building Performance Analytics – The analytic module utilizes a rule-based fault detection and diagnostic application to optimize the performance of the HVAC systems. It provides ongoing commissioning, keeping the largest energy consumption system at optimal performance. A building can typically expect a 10-25% energy savings in the HVAC systems from the use of these advanced software tools.
• Alarm Management – This module allows for alarm management across all subsystems, identifying priority alarms and correlating alarms to one event.
• Public Information and Education – The IBMS reports savings and efficiencies via a public dashboard. Visitors, tenants and occupants are able to track sustainability initiatives and goals against actual, real-time use. This display helps to promote, educate and encourage conservation.

In addition, the IBMS can integrate into an existing facilities management system (FMS). The FMS has applications such as work orders, asset management, inventory, preventative maintenance, etcetera. The IBMS and the FMS will exchange data with each other. For example, an alarm in the IBMS will trigger a work order in the FMS; or the FMS may trigger a preventative or predictive maintenance service order based equipment run time data obtained from the IBMS.

“There are several benefits to this approach and deployment. One is that with a central Meta database, it is easier to create relevant information that will support improved building operations and engineering. It also allows us to integrate the systems functionally, where an event or condition in one system can trigger action in another system. We become more proactive and less wait, break and fix and thereby improving the quality and lifecycle of our equipment,” states Vafaei.

The data in the IBMS is transformed onto dashboards. Dashboards provide information specific to a user group. For example, a dashboard may provide facility operators with high level information on alerts and alarms for a particular system, area, and time period. Or, a dashboard may allow individual departments to track their energy consumption and sustainability initiatives.

There are over 450 dashboards being developed to provide facility engineers, operators, facility managers, business managers and executives, employees, visitors and the public with information specific to their needs. Users of this information are armed with the tools necessary to contribute to building optimization, performance and efficiency.

The SFPUC has constructed a top notch energy efficient and sustainable building. The IBMS assures that advanced software tools will provide the SFPUC long term capabilities to manage building operations, energy, sustainability and ongoing costs.

Trust me; there is a cloud in your future.


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