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|BYE I T!
Well that’s it, I’m officially dropping the gauntlet on IT departments of businesses that exist in buildings with a modern BAS system within.
Scott Cochrane, President & CEO,
Cochrane Supply & Engineering
BYE I T!
Well that’s it, I’m officially dropping the gauntlet on IT departments of businesses that exist in buildings with a modern BAS system within. The business of IT is to connect, protect, manage, deliver, all sorts of cool stuff in a digital world. They are the heart and soul of our business and are a part of every aspect, but does a business IT department really need to be a part of their building's comfort, safety and security systems?
I SAY NO FRIGGIN WAY!!!
To understand why, we first have to go back in time, when BAS stood alone on proprietary networks, not connected to the internet or IT networks. Back then, the challenge was just to get the system up and running. Cyber security, meeting with IT departments, utilizing multiple software platforms wasn’t even a whisper for most projects. But then came the connection to the Internet, this allowed the BAS to be accessible from any computer on the network without the need of added software. And so we the BAS industry signed a deal with the devil and started asking business IT departments for permission to use their network, to share the building data, lower the cost of software and start to utilize the internet for remote connectivity. At first IT loved us, how cool, we can control the temperature and lights in our huge building. Then they got suspicious and started asking questions and more questions and more questions and more QUESTIONS!!! (I think you get the point) and all the sudden the contractor's hours pilled up with more meetings, custom authentication configurations, non BAS system related cyber security threats and the list goes on for about a mile now. And here we are, job costs now tripled, never ending cyber threats and demands, we as the BAS industry are leaving you Business IT Departments and moving on to our new reality which isFacility Department Managed Networks.
What are Facility Department Managed Networks, they are networks for building controls totally managed by the Facilities Department and not connected to the building's business IT network. All connections to the Facilities network are managed and firewalled by the Facilities Department, any data sharing for analytics, authentication or human resource are led by the software team within the Facilities Department. The Facilities Department is responsible for making the cyber security decisions about the network. Lets face it, for certain buildings for certain purposes an isolated network may make sense. People who run facilities understand the building needs and threats and should make the decision on how the control systems are accessed and shared with other systems. A good Facilities Manager will never loose control of their data again.
I know this sounds like a pipe dream to countless building operators who get no additional funding and certainly no support on developing IT skills. But this is not a dream and we are seeing new faces fresh from college who come with IT skills and are truly interested in running a building better. Hope is on the horizon as the next generation takes over so will Facilities ability to control their own IT destiny. Most of the new systems today are coming with a IP network and the traditional ask for an IT department was for a gateway or 2, now it's for 500 VAV boxes and as the new systems advance so will the need for more IP connectivity. These new facilities engineers are up for the challenge and with some non traditional hiring practices, like hiring IT people and dedicating them to help run facilities are really changing the dynamic quickly.
Many large property management companies now have a CTO whom is responsible for these facilities networks and have responsibilities that in some ways mirror a CTO for a business but in a new way are completely different as they need to understand how to keep occupants physically safe from crimes or how to get occupants out of a building in a emergency or how to keep the buildings energy bill under a billion dollars as we are hitting new record high outdoor air temps everywhere. These are new challenges and those who know how to harness the data, still run a facility properly shall prevail with greater services for their occupants in a much safer more comfortable building. We need to rest our success goals for Facility Managers of the future and increase expectations for a much better relationship between the building and its occupants. Sorry for the extra work, someone has to do it…..
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