April 2016

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Opening 2 Open

I am extremely pleased with the industry input to our April theme "IoT Disruption Transforms and Opens Industry"

Founder, Owner, Publisher AutomatedBuildings.com

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It is great to have input from the Intelligent / Smart Building Consulting Industry adding extreme value to our discussions while "Opening 2 Open" but all our April articles and interviews are a must read.

Our contributing editor Therese has described our April issue as something about open source being a friction-reducer mixed into the IoT/Smart Building super collider ,......very descriptive for sure.

opening2openLet's start with a small victory from an edited email comment;


I was inspired by chatting on Wednesday about 'open' BAS code.

I have done a couple of things in preparation for my DDC upgrade project.

1) I downloaded a copy of ALC Eikon for educators which allows me to open control programs on my desktop.
2) I downloaded the Taylor Engineering ASHRAE Sequences for Eikon. Which has pre-built programming for ASHRAE's RP-1455
3) I talked with our vendor about creating a shared repository for code used main project.  I also included the example ASHRAE sequences and PNNL M&V Documents.

The Vendor also recognizes the need for education and sharing within the industry, so we are going to keep that in mind as we develop this project. Should be fun!

Thanks, Christopher Naismith, EIT SES Consulting, Inc

A small victory towards open.

Our contributing editor Paul Ehrlich of Building Intelligence Group provided these thoughts;

As far as Haystack, I think that the need for better tagging, semantics, and some sort of meta data is an enormous weakness in how we design and install BAS systems today.  The only way that the data is usable today is by placing it onto some sort of graphic or chart and then having the user supply the needed meta data - which they obtain through a combination of experience and training.  So to utilize any sort of analytics solution you need a way to move the information in a system from raw data into something with context.  I applaud the folks at SkyFoundry (and others) for starting this effort and I believe it is very critical for the future of analytics - as well as improved documentation and usability of BAS.

From John Petze of SkyFoundry these thoughts;

Data modeling is not understood by the vast majority of our industry. Based on my best estimate maybe 10% - 20% understand the basic concept and need. If you work inside a single brand of product (as most do) and are delivering conventional BAS with graphics as the primary UI, then you have never encountered the issue of data semantics/tagging. It's just not something you encounter so you wouldn't know about it ahead of time. It's only when you try to combine data to bring it into value added applications that you encounter the challenge.

Once you encounter it then you begin to learn and need to find a solution. Then you hopefully find Haystack. Example:

I was at the Building Energy summit this week. A speaker on the keynote panel mentioned how hard it was to combine data from different systems and how much manual data mapping work was required. I wanted to interrupt and rush the stage, but fortunately the moderator gave Haystack a quick shout out. The speaker was from a HUGE real estate management services company. They have been encountering the challenge as they work to deliver services to their customers and have been addressing it with lots of in-house and manual effort. It will help the entire industry if people work together - vendors, owners, and facility management companies - to agree on data tagging conventions. Just this week Arup, one of the worlds largest engineering companies joined Project Haystack as an Associate member. A formal announcement about that will be out shortly.

After that session I had conversations with representatives from two major Fortune 500 companies about Haystack. Both are now looking at becoming Associate members.

It's an education and awareness issue and will take 5 or more years like BACnet did. So we just need to keep going. We are building a pyramid with bricks -- not large stone blocks.

It's all moving forward but at the slow pace of our industry.

We appreciate your energy and enthusiasm to help us get there.

Marc Petock Vice President, Marketing Lynxspring & Connexx Energy adds;

A couple of things to add…. Today, data is not a connectivity issue. If there are any obstacles it is planning (most building operations do not have a data management plan; lack naming conventions, data integrity and validation…there’s no point in collecting inaccurate data. It is not about more data, but rather asking the right questions to get the right data, understand it and help solve specific problems and address specific issues.

John’s point about lack of education and knowledge when it comes to data and how tagging and modeling provide an enormous benefit to how data can be used and its value extended is still the norm and majority (unfortunately…but by no means a lost cause). Attending this same event, I was also was approached by several folks who commented they were interested and had no idea that there was a methodology for tagging and modeling for buildings.

Adding to John’s reference about someone trying to organize data manually with no standards, I was on a call yesterday with a major end user who brought up the exact same thing. They spent countless hours trying to do this manually; getting lost and failing miserably. When I mentioned Haystack the reaction was” Now you tell me, we could have used Haystack and saved hours and a rather large headache.”

I look at it that we are in a similar situation to the old Life cereal “Mikey” commercial where 3 brothers are sitting around the breakfast table and you hear them saying….”I am not going to try it”, “no you try it”; “no you try it”…..”I know let’s get Mikey to try it”…yeah let’s get Mikey to try it”…….Mikey tries it and you then hear his brothers say. “He likes it; Mikey likes it”. Haystack is the same way.

Anno Scholten connexxenergy.com adds this example;

"Our industry has actually been ‘tagging’ points for some time.  Consider a recent project on which we applied the Haystack standard.  A sample point from the BAS system was named: “SCH.SURG.AHU05.RAF.VFD.ENABLE”.  The point name clearly has structure:

site : ‘SCH’ (for the ‘School’ site)

zone : ‘SURG’ (for the ‘Surgery’ zone)

equipment : ‘AHU05’

point : ‘RAF.VFD.ENABLE’ (for the Return Air Fan VFD Enable status)

And additional tags can be easily inferred as;  hvac : X ,  ahu : X , point : X , vfd : X , sensor : X , enable : X , kind : bool

When I describe this simple analogy and the value of this additional information to our customers, they get the ‘ah ha’ moment pretty quickly.

Our limitation has been the 32 (or less) characters BAS systems have provided us to store any form of metadata (i.e.; in the point name).

Project Haystack finally provides us with the tools, structure and more importantly open collaboration of industry experts to finally provide open standards on how to tag our metadata for maximum value."

Our contributing editor, Therese Sullivan, Managing Editor of Project-Haystack Connections ezine, and Principal, BuildingContext Ltd adds this;

I listened to the Wednesday Building Energy Summit session in (almost) real time - and I was tweeting and Linked sharing to help build views. Lots to learn from that session. I wish they could have streamed the next day panels, as well. Cor Advisors and Darlene really put together a terrific event. 

From the event "not all data is good data.. It needs a discipline behind it.  The more tailored or customized it is, the more complex it becomes to manage simply.

So when you are bringing this data in, there should be naming standards and a hierarchy, so that an apple is an apple. This is absolutely critical to the analytics…We did a data cube to study this and found that even when just maintenance system data was considered, a simple thing for a common task - such as a light -  could have 1200 different names for a light which is a problem. We need agreement around naming standards, data standards to make the BI (business intelligence) piece work."

That was from the Executive Managing Director of one of the biggest property management firms. They came to that approx count when they did a sample data audit from just all their property maintenance systems worldwide.  Perfect answer to ‘Why Project-Haystack?’  You can watch the stream. It is live here.

Another great listen was last week's Realcomm Webinar: CONNECTING Existing Disparate Systems. Sunita Shenoy of Intel brought the message that Open BAS solution developers should avail themselves of the validation testbeds offered through organizations like the Industrial Internet Consortium. Testbed platforms are becoming the place these open source organizations provide to prove engagement with the wider industry.  Getting your BACnet Test Labs BTL stamp is also a powerful statement of commitment to open.

contemporary From this April article;

Open, What Does It Really Mean? To make it happen, Smart Building controls vendors, developers, and integrators could follow the example of the smartphone to create new and truly open systems.- Fred Gordy, Intelligent Buildings LLC.

Now let’s stop and think… Why is this successful?  Apple and Google created an environment that allowed anyone to build useful apps with common tool sets.  Of course one could argue that there are still two disparate platforms, but if you really look at it, the consumer only has to decide between two platforms.  Each offers a wide variety of app options and the developer community can produce the same app for each platform with a short life cycle to go to market.

Therese adds these further comments;

"This far away from it...the thing that remains stuck in my head is that Apple iOS and the moat of apps around Android are actually closed ecosystems.  They are big. But, they are not open.

This article about Android from the past speaks to this.

Maybe this point is not important. April's larger theme was mobile devices are center of universe. Matches mine a bit in its support for concept that 'we're all app developers' now."

And this April interview

Smart Building Owner 'must do' projects  Ensure your selected technologies are both ‘open’, by means of protocols and databases, and ‘connected’, by means of a consolidated data backbone. - Shaun Klann, Vice President of Business Development,  Intelligent Buildings, LLC

Open source software is extremely successful for these very reasons. It's good for businesses because it enables more innovation and customization at lower cost. It allows for higher robustness, security and auditability because more people can test it in their own ways. It provides greater interoperability because it doesn't require a particular company to write code for a particular piece of hardware or situation. It lets companies try it before committing financially because the software itself is free. It usually allows companies to use cheaper hardware because open source systems typically are lighter and less code-bloated. It also saves everyone from replicating tedious and time-consuming infrastructure.

Products are now designed to encourage community collaboration and seamlessly support add-on applications such as automated analytics.This new product is big step towards open source; EasyStack is a software technology that combines the core functionality of a Building Automation System (BAS) for connecting and controlling devices, with the added benefits of a Building Operating System (BOS) to manage and leverage data. The technology uses tagging and data modeling to provide unprecedented capabilities and functionally. The Haystack open standard also provides options and choices for the best combination of solutions from the wider collaborative Haystack community.

When combined with Open Sedona Application Editor available for download from Contemporary Controls’ website we are starting to Open to Open.

Great discussions, let's all keep it going.


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