February 2017

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Higher Service Autonomy and the New IoT

What would you do with a building service that can tell your system that the building occupants are angry, or happy, or frustrated?

Toby ConsidineToby Considine
TC9 Inc

The New Daedalus

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This is another in a series of articles looking back on the roots of the IoT, as expressed in Automated Buildings, and continuing themes that will come to the fore as the new IoT and the classic Building Automation work together.

The focus of one of the first issues I appeared in was “The Rise of Virtual Services” in 2008. In my article that month, “Service Performance, Compliance, and Business Responsiveness,” I described the benefits of enterprise integration of building systems. For the building system to respond to the enterprise, it must first become an autonomous agent-based system that can describe itself in terms of the service provided. Whenever that service is not needed, or the need is reduced, then additional energy savings can be found without degrading the tenant experience. The Service cannot be something simple, like “cooling,” but cooling to support a business activity. Apply the same reduction in ventilation to an office space and to a regulated environment in the animal research or in manufacturing; one is degraded service; one is a failure.

This notion was critical to much of the development of the US National Smart Grid Roadmap. The central utility cannot be a trusted control partner business processes of any complexity or of proprietary value. I described it from the Smart Grid perspective in “Smart Loads and Smart Grids—Creating the Smart Grid Business Case.

This theory is pretty, but it can be hard to implement. What is the service, and what is the value? Can we come to an understanding of the value that is common across many areas?

When we talk about meaning, we refer to an Ontology. Most control systems talk about system semantics? What is this? What does it connect to? This is where Haystack excels. It is a superb taxonomy (meaning ordered semantics) of building-based systems. Early on in the Smart Grid process, we looked at Ontological requirements of the Service Oriented Grid. This said we needed one, but it didn’t say how to make an ontology.

A common path to an ontology is to lay two or more semantic sets atop one another. This is particularly powerful if the semantic sets are taxonomies. For office buildings, this might be Haystack (what it does) atop COBIE space classification (what is its purpose) across the corporate org chart (whose space is it?). Ken Sinclair named this process “building bridges” in the issue in which I discussed Autonomous Systems and Cloud Diagnostics in 2014.

contemporary Now with the IoT, we need new taxonomies. Companies are assembling sensors that assess emotional state of the building occupants. What would you do with a building service that can tell your system that the building occupants are angry, or happy, or frustrated? And what are those occupants doing right now, anyway? This week another draft of a new taxonomy, the Classification of Everyday Living (COEL) was published.

Some creative, smart people are going to continue to expand the services available to the building integrator. So long as they use common taxonomies, integrators will always have some new higher-end services to assemble.


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