October 2017

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Haystack Connections Third Edition

Look for New Edition of Haystack Connections October 1st
Therese SullivanTherese Sullivan,
Founder, BuildingContext Ltd
 Editor, Haystack Connections

Contributing Editor


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The third issue of Haystack Connections, the magazine for the Project-Haystack community is on under the Downloads tab, or we have a direct link to magazine as a pdf here. This issue came together naturally around the theme of “The Work Continues,” i.e. how the community goes about developing a semantics methodology for device data that can be used to tag not only building data but virtually any IoT or smart-and-connected device application today. The Haystack community has collected some of the best data engineers with building-performance experience in the world into its organization.

Most of our community collaboration happens online. But, the excitement of bringing these minds together in one place was palpable last Spring at Haystack Connect 2017. A lot of work was accomplished in the relaxed setting of the Saddlebrook Resort, so there is a big Haystack Connect Highlights section in this issue. There are articles on some of the many presentations given over those few days. I report on the keynotes by the data scientists Rita Wouhaybi of Intel and Milan Milenkovak of IoTSense. They both offered valuable IT-industry perspectives and key takeaways about the role our community is poised to play in bringing data interoperability to the IoT-world at large.

I sampled those break-out sessions that were most specifically educational when it comes to using Haystack tagging. The Haystack Connect conference covered the subject of data interoperability with much wider scope, and there is so much more content at I hope that readers will be encouraged to explore further there, once they’ve absorbed the overview provided in the magazine.

Keeping with the theme of the Haystack community at work, this Autumn 2017 edition highlights the fact that eight new semantic tagging working groups were launched this summer.  There is an article from Matthew Giannini, who has led the effort to make the organization’s website more working-group-friendly. I was happy to cover the thought-leadership of some of the champions that have stepped up to lead working groups, such as Karine Lavigne of Hydro-Quebec Research Institute. She is keen to have the group consider some new types of tags that would improve the ease with which Haystack users can express how energy, air, water, electricity, and other flows move between points or objects.

Again, I hope the sample coverage in the magazine piques your interest enough to explore further on the Project Haystack website—and perhaps to even join a group if you are a member. At the website, you’ll find there are working groups that focus on the specific semantics and tagging challenges presented by the data center and lab environments, as well as by refrigeration and chiller plant specifics. When it comes to expressing spatial characteristics, like zones in a space, there is great overlap and integration challenges with matching Haystack hierarchy with BIM modeling standards. A BIM expert within the community, Chris Renter of Stuart-Olsen is leading the BIM working group. He is championing Haystack in other ways too, for example, he spoke about the methodology and markup language at CanBIM Toronto 2017 last month.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]A new feature that I’ve launched with this edition is the Member Profile. Matt Horton of Tampa Bay-area-based SensorFact Services, a cloud-based data acquisition and storage service for sensor data, was the member that I interviewed and wrote about this time. You can also read editorials from other Haystack members in the Voices section of the magazine. In this issue there are posts from Anno Scholten of Connexx Energy, Alper Uzmezler of BASSG and Anka Labs, as well as B. Scott Muench of J2 Innovations. In the Resources section, we are excited to announce the availability of the Haystack Guide specification in Chinese. This new document was the result of work by members in China and shows the growing international support for Project Haystack as the markup language for device data. The Chinese language Guide Specification can be found on the Downloads page here.

I realize that I included this quote from Rob Murchinson of Intelligent Buildings, heard at Haystack Connect 2017, in my article last month for, but it is worth repeating: Rob said “100% of us believe in the value of data, and that is why we are here. But, in the broader market—across the 87 billion square feet of real estate just in the US—we’re a small minority.”

Well, as the anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That is certainly true of the Project Haystack community. Haystack Connections is another way that we’re striving to demonstrate that thoughtfulness and commitment.


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