February 2015

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Building Automation Focus for 2015

Needs to be Autodidactism or Self-Education

Ken Sinclair,

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Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) or self-education is the act of teaching oneself about a subject or subjects in which one has had little to no formal education. This word accurately describes the how, why and what we have all self-learned in 2014, and what our focus for 2015 needs to be. As IoT propels our entry into interactive social media as an input and output of our buildings we need to rapidly self-educate ourselves in an area that we all have no formal education.

Of course, this autodidactism is now rapidly spreading to self-learning being part of our devices and cloud-based services. Our survival depends on our ability to embrace and achieve our self-education of this brave new world.

Our authors have done an amazing job of capturing subject matter that we all need to better understand. We hope that this publication and our AutomatedBuildings.com will be part of your autodidactism. I love that this word contains these three words: Auto. Did. Act. This provides us an easy way to remember this unusual word that is becoming our future.

I am looking forward to using this word in encouraging the attendees of our free education sessions at AHRExpo 2015 in Chicago to keep on the self-education theme. Please drop in and join us at these sessions that explore the idea of how the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing building automation.

1. Jan. 26, 9:00 am, at AHRExpo 2015 Chicago: “Growing the Building Automation Industry Younger" with Internet of Things (IoT), open cloud, and collaboration.

A summary with discussion of significant BAS industry changes since the AHRExpo in New York in January 2014. It will include how to keep powerful cloud services open; the impact of new LED lighting systems, complete with their own control networks; plus how to attract new talent to our industry. Will also add insight from AutomatedBuildings.com’s 15 years in the collaboratory with significant events that shaped our industry.  Jim Sinopoli, Brad White, and Ken Sinclair discuss these trends and directions that are rapidly changing our industry.

The following articles will provide some insight into this session:

"Standardizing the Internet of Things: Boiling the Ocean" - Jim Sinopoli, PE, LEED AP, Smart Buildings LLC.

"Knowledge Sharing to Drive Learning." If you can hire good people, train them well, and ensure they continue to learn throughout their career then we will see our whole industry, from the operators to the engineers, achieve the potential we all know is there. - Brad White, P.Eng, MASc, Principal, SES Consulting, Inc.

2.  Jan. 26, 1:30 pm, at AHRExpo 2015 Chicago: “Addressing the Skills Gap.” Understanding that people are our only asset.

To help grow our only true resource, our people, younger, by reaching out to youth with messages about our vibrant, vital, and rewarding industry. Organizations need to attract talent before they graduate; whether working on a two or four year degree, students need to be introduced to this field early on. Through internship programs, they can gain an understanding of the field and whether this is right for them. The knowledge shift required for the IoT will be discussed.

Paul Oswald Environmental Systems, Inc., Jim Sinopoli, our contributing editor, and Ken Sinclair will discuss the problems and skills needed to address the skills gap.

The following article will provide some insight into this session:

"Addressing The Skills Gap." It’s time we as industry begin to focus our efforts on investing in the people necessary to properly apply all the great technology we have in order to deliver quality solutions that provide real value to end users. - Paul Oswald, President, Environmental Systems, Inc (ESI)

AHR 2015 Session: Smart Buildings, IoT, and Smart Cities

The third session at AHRExpo 2015 in Chicago focuses on the connection between smart buildings, the Internet of Things, and smart cities.

3. Jan. 27, 9:00 am, at AHRExpo 2015 Chicago: “How Smart Automated Buildings and IoT create Smart Cities.”

To provide connections and information about IoT known interactions that will alter our journey. Increased urbanization also means a greater number of buildings and key urban systems. There appears to be an overarching commonality in smart buildings and smart cities; it is the use of advanced technology to improve the “performance” of the entity. It involves automation, information technology, communications, integration, data mining, and analytics. Jim Sinopoli, Brad White, and Ken Sinclair will discuss creating Smart Cities.

The following article will provide some insight into this session:

The Road to the Smart City.”  A starting point in transforming a city to a smart city is to look inward. - Jim Sinopoli PE, LEED BD+C, RCCD Managing Principal, Smart Buildings LLC

I’ll leave you with some thoughts from the article, “Learning from People.By using input from humans, we can greatly improve the systems, and therefore buildings, that serve our occupants. - David Weidberg, Client Solutions Manager, Building Robotics.

David writes:

The time is now! With machine learning at your doorstep, what do we do - run, hide or embrace?  No, I am not talking about the Terminator, but I am talking about your existing building having the capacity to evolve and learn from the surplus of data that already exists in your facility and within your occupants.   

While the concept might sound new, in the book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand professed the philosophy of ever-adapting buildings long before machine-learning technology existed for buildings.  As he writes, “First we shape our buildings, then, they shape us, then we shape them again – ad infinitum.” He is describing the notion that buildings are not static, but that they are dynamic and continually changing based on occupants, technology and environment.  Machine learning can play a vital role in enabling buildings to adjust to peoples’ needs, thus helping shape the buildings in which we work.   

To the average person, the concept of machine learning is only foreign by name. We interact with machine learning on a daily basis. For example, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and countless other companies use machine learning to personalize your experience on their websites and provide predictive insight into products that you might like based upon your previous inputs. These companies have invested heavily in machine learning because people respond to curated content in the form of loyalty or purchases. The reason people use these services is because they provide a tailored experience – one that provides more meaningful content and saves time from browsing through unwanted content.

Much like people’s experience on the internet, building occupants want meaningful personalization in their workspaces.  The concept of changing temperature or lighting levels at work might seem trivial, but it is something we all control in other environments, including one’s home and car.  For building managers, giving occupants this type of control has always been controversial due to energy concerns and the difficulty of managing different preferences among occupants.  So, how can machine learning help?

Machine learning creates a perpetual learning environment by using various data streams from the building management system along with the use of human input.

Ken Sinclair is the founder, owner, and publisher of an online resource called AutomatedBuildings.com. He writes a monthly column for FacilitiesNet.com about what is new in the Internet of Things (IOT) for building automation.


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