May 2004
Review
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BuilConn Feeling Keeps Building 

by Ken Sinclair

We are just back from BuilConn and pleased to report that the BuilConn feeling just keeps Building. Before the event I wrote “All of us are very excited about where BuilConn 2004 may lead us and what new vibrations and feelings will be transferred to the industry." Well I for one was not disappointed nor were the folks I convinced to attend. The co-location of the M2M Expo (Machine To Machine Expo) proved to be a dynamite combination. It became obvious that we have been in the M2M business for years but had never looked at ourselves that way. The M2M folks bring new ideas and products to propel our industry forward, and are a great addition to our community. It was a great meeting of minds. 

Harbor Research notes from the first M2M Expo and Conference provides commentary on the state of the industry   Click on the following link: http://harborresearch.com/currents/issues/20040422/currents_20040422.html

Jane and I gained a greater insight into the amount of work that Anto and his crew go through to host one of these events. Clasma Central was a bee hive of activity. Clasma CentralHere is a behind the scenes picture of what goes on to bring a show of this type to you. I was given the task of being "Content Cop" reviewing all presentations to insure commercialism was held to a minimum. This presented me with a great opportunity to review the complete content of the show. As editor of AutomatedBuildings.com I am used to reviewing reams of technical data but the volume of presentations, coupled with the variety of subject matter was truly amazing. Anto's approach of using the technology that we are talking about allowed for the complete building of show content online. Some presentations were amazing fresh, being posted only hours before presentation. This of course added to all the excitement in Anto's and his crews' lives.

BuilConn has quickly becoming the home of industry Building Automation events and I was the "keep the meeting moving guy" for the The first ever "CABA Intelligent Building Ranking Tool workshop/forum"  http://www.caba.org/ib_workshop

The Intelligent Building Ranking Tool is intended to assist building owners/managers and the real estate industry to develop a Building Intelligence Quotient (BIQ). This is a difficult task and I applaud the work being done by Tom Lohner, Vice President, Teng Solutions and Chair of the Intelligent Building Ranking Tool Task Force.

We actually got some of the major issues suggested by the task force approved in concept, and voted on a first ranking.

This two day event was followed by the oBix meeting with lots of excitement. Here is the short story. Transition Team Results:

Kirk presented the results and recommendations of the transition team.  This team consisted of 15 volunteers who met weekly to determine future direction.  The team proposed a new mission statement:

“The mission of the Open Building Information Exchange (oBIX) committee is to develop a publicly available web services interface specification that can be used to obtain data in a simple and secure manner from HVAC, access control, utilities, and other building automation systems, and to provide data exchange between facility systems and enterprise applications. In addition, the committee will develop implementation guidelines, as needed, to facilitate the development of products that use the web service interface."

They also proposed that we move the committee work under OASIS and to work in parallel toward ISO certification. 

A motion was made “To approve the mission as stated in these minutes and to work actively to transition hosting to the OASIS” – By Paul Ehrlich and seconded by Rob Zivney.  Kirk conducted a formal polling of members from the list and resulted in 17 votes to proceed with the recommendations and 7 votes against.  The motion carried.

The other big news was

Leadership:

Ideally the efforts of oBIX will be user lead.  Toby Considine – Technology officer for Facility Services at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, indicated an interest in taking on the chair.  Appointment of Toby passed by voice vote with no objections.  Paul and Toby will work on transitioning leadership over the next 30 days.  Toby can be reached at Tobias@facilities.unc.edu

For full details go to http://www.caba.org/aboutus/com_standard.html#obix

I was also moderator for the open system panel. I was the moderator last year and again at the XML-Symposium in Anaheim in January but the group is so dynamic their message is always new and this presentation was no exception. Lots of focus on XML by all. In fact it really got the XML mega panel session which was on next started early. The message is very clear that our union with IT and our acceptance of open standards is going to mean a significant change in attitude for us all.  Problems which seem big to the Automation industry are not even an issue for the IT folks. The message was very clear - Don't talk about it! Just do it.

XML PavilionThe XML Pavilion was a great success providing many examples of how XML is now being used to transfer data in the industry. This was a great demo because it keeps the pressure on the oBIX group to keep focused on the original task of developing guidelines and standards for the industry. It is clear that XML is the solution that is widely used now and will continue to be used so guidelines would be very useful.

Wireless 

I was track leader for Critical Technologies which included a session called “Wireless Networks: Has the time come?” 

The answer to that question was a resounding “Yes”. The sessions involved some new thinking from the cross over folks from the M2M Expo (Machine To Machine Expo) that was co-located with BuilConn in Dallas. Thinking outside the box? These guys do not even know there is a box or even of our industry's wired ways. 

Approximately 10 to 15% of the folks at the conference were in the wireless industry. Wireless is now cheaper, runs forever on batteries, can even be self-generating, and can now organize itself into self healing and repeating networks. Let me provide you connection to some of the new thinking that will appear in our building automation products in the near future. 

 I also found out what a ZigBee is...... Do you know?? 

The ZigBee Alliance is an association of companies working together to enable reliable, cost-effective, low-power, wirelessly networked monitoring and control products based on an open global standard. http://www.zigbee.org/ ZigBee was created to address the market need for a cost-effective, standards-based wireless networking solution that supports low data rates, low power consumption, security and reliability. ZigBee is defining both star and mesh network topologies, a variety of data security features and interoperable application profiles.

This is big and is entering our industry now  as a wireless open protocol. Imagine bringing devices into the wireless cloud and having them become part of the information network without programming.

The co-location of the M2M Expo with this year's BuilConn added a new dimension and allowed us all to see further into the future with greater clarity.  Great job Anto and Glen. It is with Anto's direction that BuilConn Keeps Building.   

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