February 2021

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From BACnet to Quantum Computing?

The world depends on us, coming together and making this industry far better than it is today
Nicolas WaernNicolas Waern
"The Building Whisperer"



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From BACnet to Quantum Computing?

It is a Saturday morning here in Sweden and I’m sitting at the edge of the couch, creating the last revisions for the article. Kids are running around, wife wants me to do some vacuuming, which I will, and the sun is shining for once. But after some Linkedin Conversations this morning about the importance of “One API” to real estate I wanted to look through this once more. Volvo cars have just come out with an innovation portal where outside developers could help in creating better cars and that’s what I was thinking about 5 years ago. I described this in my latest Newsletter at Beyond Buildings, and the collective sense of urgency we need to have, together.


i. The platform play for buildings - 2015

This is an article that goes back in time when I had no idea about BACnet, cloud infrastructure or what building automation really was. But that changed quite fast. I knew that this was an industry I wanted to be in, when I understood that buildings/construction combined are responsible for over one-third of global final energy consumption. There’s much value to be created when reducing the impact of nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions world-wide. I still see this as one of the most important industries to change for the better. And now with Post-Covid, the new normal, the importance of well-being, and a great indoor climate is even more relevant than before.

This article is a glimpse into the story that has led me to speaking at the AHRexpo about open hardware and open software, to Digital Twins and Quantum Computing and Industry 4.0 blockchain based initiatives. I have recently taken lead for Lifecycle Digital Twins in the Manufacturing Working Group at the Digital Twins Consortium, and if anyone wants to discuss Interoperability and Integration and want to contribute to the industry, let me know! The great Anto Budiardjo is also in the consortium and we will be discussing these topics soon that will be recorded.

Being in all these working groups helps me go Beyond Buildings to better understand what is being done today in other industries. To come back to the future in Real Estate, to not only predict, but also influence where the industry will go in the next month, year, and decade from now.

My articles are usually a mix between the personal and the professional and this one is no different. There are a lot of links to the past, and I see that I have gone from thinking that gimmicky is gold to becoming somewhat of a building automation bodybuilder myself (referencing this article below discussing the approach to getting started with Smart Buildings, inspired by the great Tyson Soutter from Siemens).

I hope this will be an interesting read and please reach out if you have any questions or comments!

From IoT- Ingredients to Smart Building recipes

I’ve been thinking that I was more in the right 2,5 years ago, thinking that Smart building initiatives have to start somewhere small, and to go with the low-hanging fruits. Because I must admit that now that I know much more of the challenges that exist. I too fall into the trap of wanting to do too much and that rarely succeeds. It’s challenging to go after the (s)low hanging fruits, when there is so much to do. But maybe I need to go back to that way of thinking? How should Smart Building projects start?

In 2021, I will continue my efforts in spreading knowledge around Innovation and Digitalization. From an early focus on IoT enabled buildings with a BACnet base, I am now also involved in national Digital Twin initiatives as well as European Digital Twin simulations that will help stakeholders mitigate climate change in a data-driven collaborative way. I am part of working groups in data-management, digital twin initiatives in healthcare, aerospace and defence, natural resources, as well as infrastructure and real-time real estate.

I have been working with construction companies the last 1,5 years and I can clearly see that it is a broken real-estate industry that needs to be fixed. How can we expect Smarter Buildings when the foundation is missing for the most part?

Covid might help accelerate the much-needed outcomes from automated buildings but it seems that there is more of a mindset shift that is needed than a technological one. People love to talk about what is wrong in industries and fail to act and to discuss what is right and share the good example with others. Innovation still happens behind closed doors for the most part and while the ingredients are out there for the most part, most industries lack the recipes and instructions needed to get started, get going and succeeding with digitalization for real.

Future generations depend on us to fix all these problems together and I know enough by now to understand the problems as well as the solutions needed. Which is why I will try to accelerate practical innovation examples through participation in innovation hotbeds and more discussions with thought leaders in the space through my podcast and newsletter.

The future foundation and the road to get there

“If you look at smartphones, they all have an app store, right? And if you look at connected vehicles, they too are starting to become less hardware and more software where the focus is on building a platform and opening an eco-system. Volvo are now utilizing the Android Platform to build great solutions on top of it. Why re-invent the wheel?” – Nicolas Waern, 2018

That sentence was written 2,5 years ago when I was the acting CEO for the IoT hardware/software company Go-IoT, and it stands true today as it did back then. It comes from my first article at AutomatedBuildings.com.

I’ve had a monthly cadence since then, with thought pieces about BACnet IoT, Edge vs Cloud, Semantic interoperability, the industry and its organizations and of course Digital Twins and AI. But first out are some olden (and golden?) blog posts that I wrote when I was with Go-IoT.

From the Go-IoT days

        Stuck in API hell

        Robust, Attractive and Useful Buildings

        Harness the Power of Powerline

From Linkedin   

        How can WE create Smarter Buildings?

        Building automation body building

        What connectivity option to choose?

From my podcast and newsletter

        Mending a broken real estate industry

        Digitize my asset

        A new era of Construction

Going back in time is quite interesting. Two years ago, feels like 10 years ago. I have learned a lot in these five and a half years and my focus has only been on innovation and finding, as well as understanding root causes. Pivotal moments were of course learning about BACnet and the whole realm of the Protocol Wars that exist. And I am still surprised by the lack of knowledge of what BACnet has been, what it is, and what it will be. I still hear people lamenting that BACnet is dead, without even knowing that BACnet can transfer data via a RESTful Api in a secure and standardized way. Even more so now with BACnet/SC. But on the other hand, more modern interfaces like Graphql are also utilized to bridge the gap between the existing and the new, where companies like Buildings IoT are leading the charge with insightful leaders such as Brian Turner at the helm.

An early hero of mine was the legendary Steve Tom, having read the seminal article about BACnet/WS at least 20 times. It was also featured here at automated buildings. This article, and the work I was doing at Go-IoT led to me co-authoring the article about BACnet/IoT in BACnet foundations which seems like two decades ago. I remember discussing edge, IoT, and other things that were then new to me and that I was out of my depth. But when industry titans like Bernard Isler made comments like “I enjoyed it immensely”, I kind of knew that I might be on the right track.

The article from Brad White about the Trillion Dollar opportunity is an article I always go back to when trying to understand why we are doing this and the need between a linear understanding about the investment in Smart Building technology and what the outcomes could be. Also an article I’ve read at least 20 times.

But I can also see that we need to go beyond buildings at this point, and more towards the realization of smarter cities, well-being and productivity.


Understanding what contextual intelligence means and how it is related to driving continuous intelligence is paramount in an AI-augmented world. It is even more important nowadays than ever before post-Covid when the jury is out in how many people will go back to commercial real-estate. These questions were definitely not on my mind when I first heard about connected buildings. My dream back then was to unify all (wo)mankind underneath the umbrella and power of Audiobooks…

How it all began

It was the first time I met the founder of the company I had invested in. We had been talking for over a year through video-conference apps and via texts. But it was not until we met at the World’s leading Entrepreneurship conference, Slush, in Helsinki that we met the first time in person. The back-story was that I had been advising a tech incubator in Lagos, Nigeria for a year and decided I wanted to invest in two amazing entrepreneurs with a dream to place Nigeria on the Global map.

Kolapo Ogungbile and Damilola Aransiola. I still remember when these names sounded odd to me, and that friends in Sweden laughed when I told them I had invested in a Nigerian start-up without even having been there. How it happened was that I had been working with the founder of the Tech Incubator, Olufunbi Falayi, for a year at that time and I loved the fact that the world was so small, and big at the same time. The only things I knew about Africa before working with Passion Incubator was that 10% of my food intake when I was a kid had something to do with starving kids in Africa.

I saw Africa as a country, more than a continent. And I had absolutely no idea where Nigeria was located, nor its history. But after a year of networking, I quickly realized that we were the same. It was great to be working in almost the same time zone, and that we shared a lot of the humour, entrepreneurial drive and that we worked well together. I have had hundreds of meetings with business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians over the years. And I’ve always been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen and heard.

I had no idea that Nigeria had global entrepreneurs like Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu. Aliko Dangote collaborates with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to combat Polio and Tony Elumelu was included in Time magazine 's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 (where Talking Bookz received from the Tony Elumelu foundation). I was constantly reminded as well as surprised about my naivete in thinking that I knew anything about the world we live in. I quickly realized how my Swedish world-view was partly crippling me in thinking that the world somehow revolved around Sweden. I was partly ashamed about the pre-conceived notions that I had about Africa as a whole and I have yet to understand the nuances of the countries and the people that exist in this world, wherever we are.

My goal of one day having/operating a business in all corners of the World is what drives me forward and Kolapo and Damilola continue to inspire me and we are still my friends to this day. Talking about Entrepreneurship, Marketing and everything else in between.


Kolapo and I met in Helsinki in 2015 as well as in 2018. But I have yet to meet Damilola “for real” which today means…what? Covid has changed the new normal and not meeting up prior to doing business will probably be the new Normal for a while now.


But it was at Slush it started. The ones that follow my Podcast and Newsletter- Beyond Buildings, have probably heard this before and it feels almost a story as old as time at this point. I was standing in line to get a cold Helsinki beer, waiting for Kolapo and some other people when I was about to embark on a journey that would take me to the place I am today.

The vouchers I had were exchanged for beers and I turned round, seeking a place of refuge from all the conversations I had been in with investors and other people. But the closest one next to me was a man having a beer and I asked him if I could join him while I was waiting for my team.

He said yes and I asked him what he was doing at Slush.

He showed on his phone that he could see when someone had opened the refrigerator, he could turn on and off the lights, and control everything in his home in Iceland from his phone in Helsinki. This was about 6 months before the IoT-hype took off for real and I had never heard anything about home automation, nor building automation. He said that this was done by just plugging something into the wall and then communicating via existing powerlines. Something which I thought was very interesting and I could see the platform play in my mind.


iii. The platform-play for Real Estate Innovation

We talked about strategy and other things afterwards and I saw the app-store concept and the platform play 5 years ago. I did not think it would take me this long to understand exactly what needs to happen, but now I believe I do. I helped the company with strategy, business development, sales, and I was also in charge of coordination between hardware and software development, introducing and leading daily stand-ups. I worked 80-hour weeks for years combining my day-job as a web-agency owner, management consultant for companies like SWEGON, Volvo Cars and others because I saw that buildings need to be better. People working within the real-estate sector need to perform better.

I got a global network out of those 4 years and a fair understanding about the hardcore nuances of building automation. From hardware development to software development, from BACnet to IoT and why things are happening and why they are not. And that is basically how it started.

I’m still on this journey today and I, the industry, can need all the help we can get. I’m trying to continuously understand how companies can survive and thrive in this industry. I’d love for you to subscribe to the Beyond Buildings Podcast and Newsletter today.

The latest podcast from Beyond Buildings was about 3D-printed 4-story buildings, a new era of construction. Focusing on the need for a sense of urgency by all.


It is high time to utilize our combined industry knowledge and accelerate time to value creation for all.


The mission

I aim to disrupt the ways of working in this industry that will lead to creative destruction for the most part. It will solve the skill-shortage gap with technology as an enabler. It will be people first, and AI a close second. The recipe of going from BACnet to Quantum Computing does exist and for the ones who want to go after it, just let me know and we will do it together. Existing dragons, new dragons, whatever happens, we need to create an industry that do not lock people in. We cannot settle for just modern technologies with old mindsets. We cannot settle for lock-in effects that make it harder for everyone involved to create more sustainable buildings.


The world depends on us, coming together and making this industry far better than it is today. I urge you to join me in going above and beyond to make our future selves proud.

Creating the Future together

Future flexibility and understanding the context will be the focus for future podcasts and articles from the Beyond Buildings Podcast.

        3D Printing and the need for an increased sense of urgency

        Security and sustainable buildings

        The role of 5G and what is the difference between the past, present, and the future.

        AI conversations regarding real-time real estate

        Ontology-based discussions clarifying the meaning of meaning with Real Estate Core, 223p, Haystack, BACnet, Brick and others.

        How ontologies are being used today to create cognitive portfolios

        Fixing the lifecycle problem, understanding where they are and what to do about them

        How Tridium could be leveraged for more sustainable buildings worldwide

Subscribe now and join hundreds of other Building Automation Professionals world-wide in getting to know what world will do in the next decade.

There is a special discount right now that includes 1 on 1 consultancy for everything listed above, and more! If you are wondering about the linear relationship between BACnet to Quantum Computing, that exists and how it can be tailor-made for you? Just reach out and let us create the recipe together based on the ingredients that exist in the BB-cycle.

And if you just want to stay in tune to what the world will do in a month, a year, a decade from now, please just join in and let us go Beyond Buildings together!


Nicolas Waern

Innovation and Digital Transformation Expert – Helping companies compete in the age of AI





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