July 2015

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Back From The Stack

Haystack Connect And Big Data

Ken Sinclair,

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Facilities Management

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Jane and I are just back from the Haystack Connect event in Colorado Springs. It was an extremely feel-good event, very well attended, and the best part was over half of the folks attending were under the age of 40. It was amazing to see what this new energy brings to the industry.  Over the years we have been the part of many new start up communities and we simply love the feeling of unbridled optimism and willingness to donate to the cause that exists at events like this. The Haystack event showed us that this is the place where the community of automation and IoT professionals comes together to learn and share the latest techniques for connecting systems and using data to advance the efficiency of buildings, equipment systems and processes. For those circling the Haystack, it was a great venue to better understand the issues moving ahead with Big Data and IoT. This comment was made at event: "The fact that Haystack is open source we find folk are using resources who have not identified themselves as part of the community." This is a great tribute to the work done by the community.

They also created a new word "Haystackable."

The need is clear and we all need to ask those non-believers: "How do you propose to manage big data tagging?"

We were very pleased to have our first ever contributing editor of AutomatedBuildings.com at the event: Tom Hartman was on a self-learning journey to observe our changing industry.

Please read review of the Haystack event.

Pleased to have our newest contributing editor, Marc Petock, vice president, marketing, Lynxspring & Connexx Energy.  Although Marc is not new to our magazine, we thought we should make it official because of the number of articles and interviews he has provided plus ongoing support of our efforts and the industry he has provided. Take a look at his contributing editor page to see the amount and linkage to his articles and interviews to date.

Christopher Naismith, learning manager at SES Consulting and I met with several folks to discuss self-learning companies at the Haystack event and we learned lots. Eye opener for me and the other over 40 folks was: Millennial folks are by definition self-learners. We simply need to define what they need to learn. We also need to explore how to best digitalize the thoughts of the Boomer's and connect their thoughts to today's flavor of the day social media.

Chris blogged this article for us this month, Enabling Self-Learning at Work: No-one is without the innate curiosity and passion necessary to learn new things on their own.

Control Solutions, Inc I am passionate about creating a path of learning from old to new in our industry. I am old, and all of us old guys need the help of the younger folks in our industry to teach us the best formats, what information is useful, and how do we best present it so it is easily accessible.

It has become obvious in the last 16 years of publishing AutomatedBuildings.com that online cloud storage of searchable information in HTML is the lasting medium that will become our self-documented history.

Also our long time contributing editor, and author of five books, was there as keynote speaker: Our good friend Jack McGowan is an industry resource and asset, and has captured his thoughts on big data in his new book, "Big Data and Building Technology Integration." Be sure to read our interview this month about his new book.

I am very pleased to provide perspective on the middle chapters of Jack’s amazing book and to focus on the “Introduction to Technology” section. I have known Jack for over 30 years, and when I first met him he was writing a book and I was honored when he used some of my material for one of the chapters. He has spent much of his life as an educator of our industry so we are all pleased that he has taken on this task of sharing his insight on the big picture of our industry that is this book.

Jack has the ability to capture and organize all that is around him and contextualize into value for others. Jack has been a personal mentor plus the greatest fan ever of Jane and my efforts at creating and maintaining what is AutomatedBuildings.com. He is the rare combination of a teacher and a doer, hence his ability to prepare a book of this magnitude, volume, and embodied wisdom.

It is important to understand this book is written for people, people like you. People are our only asset. Technology may come and go but at the core of the industry are the same people that have been there for years. The problem is these core people are growing older and much of the discussion now is that we all need to plant new people, nourish them, and help them grow.

This book does an amazing job of providing a base, the actual ground where these new younger people can grow.

Your company's and the industry's technologies may come and go but the people are our only true asset that remains and recreates and keeps the industry strong.  This greatly increases the importance of the induction of new blood, younger folks with IoT smarts into our industry. If we are to build on our existing assets, the people, then we need to invest in education and transfer of the knowledge of our assets.  We need to look at new talent as an investment that can greatly increase our existing assets. As you read the chapters keep focused on how our assets the people, are needed to make these technologies achieve full potential.

Evolving Technology Is Redefining Building Automation

Buildings connected with open protocols to the powerful Internet cloud and its Web services are redefining the building automation industry, with the result that the reach and the visibility of the industry have never been greater nor has change been so rapid. Our clouded future includes new virtual connections to buildings from the communities they are part of with both physical and social interactions. An example: digitally displayed energy/environmental dashboards to inform all of the building’s impact in real-time energy use, plus the percentage generated from renewable sources. And connections to the smart grid make buildings a physical part of their supply energy infrastructure.

The ability to operate buildings efficiently via the Internet cloud from anywhere allows the building automation industry to be better managed and appear greatly simplified. Web services, or software as a service (SaaS) as it is sometimes called, coupled with powerful browser presentation is changing how we appear and interact with clients.

The data cloud for our industry has become real. As we see applications and services moved “off-site,” you can imagine the opportunities for managing real estate, reducing energy use, and providing value-added applications for buildings.

We must unhinge our minds and find new pivot points from which to build our future. We must embrace the power of the cloud while increasing our comfort level in using the solutions within.

Cloud Opportunities
The new applications and infrastructure do not reside in end users premises; instead, the end user accesses the application on demand via a Web browser on any device. This means he can concentrate on using the application for its purpose, without investing in capital expenditure while avoiding the overhead of installation, networking, and maintenance.

With the emergence of open system protocols wired and wireless, and the worldwide emphasis on energy management and sustainability, the rate of adoption of new technology by building automation vendors has increased dramatically. In particular, the use of web technology and open system architecture to integrate and converge with IT networks to create new features in a more cost effective and time efficient manner.

Online Commissioning
Connectivity of everything is a growing reality, and with each new connection comes new opportunities and new perspectives. Just as low-cost powerful connectivity is changing and actually simplifying our personal lives with Internet extensions (i.e., “apps”) to our handheld devices, building automation is caught up in the same connectivity growth.

In today’s complex buildings, even small problems can have big impacts on performance. Lighting, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems need continuous performance tracking to ensure optimal energy efficiency. Yet a formal process for data gathering and analysis is not commonplace in the nation’s building stock. Plus there’s often a disconnect between the energy modeling done in isolated, one-time re-commissioning or energy audit projects, and what happens in day-to-day operations.

What’s needed is a systematic approach to tracking energy utilization that helps detect problems early, before they lead to tenant comfort complaints, high energy costs, or unexpected equipment failure. That’s why new robust energy monitoring technologies and monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) techniques are now at the forefront in building automation.

Energy Management
Reliable Controls The continuing question is how to convert data into meaningful information that is contextual and actionable. The operations center is an environment where meaningful information can be extracted and presented to produce a high level of situational awareness, align related work processes, minimize workload and errors, enhance task performance, and provide information and reporting tools required to manage the building’s operations.

I am very pleased that Jack McGowan’s book includes Chapter 14, Haystack Connect and the Next Generation of Energy Standards, and Chapter 15, The Internet of Things. It shows how this far reaching book has information only created a few years ago and provides connections (words to Google) to evolving online resources.

When you have read this book completely you will grasp the scope and complexity of energy and analytics big data, building systems and technology integration for the 21st Century.


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