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Press Release - April 9, 2003
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Open letter to the Building Controls Industry on formation of Open Standards for XML and Web Services

Guideline for XML / Web Services for Building Control

The Building Controls industry has made great strides over the last 10 years in the creation of communications standards. Both BACnet and LonTalk are now viable, commercially accepted solutions that provide owners with open communications. Yet while we have made great progress in these areas as an industry, there has been an emergence of a larger, more globally accepted standard created by the world of Information Technology. In particular the broad acceptance and ever lowering cost of Ethernet / TCP/IP / XML communications is finding its way into our industry. Owners today are looking for:

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There are many ways to solve this need. Although not an optimal solution, both BACnet and LonTalk have added TCP/IP communications capabilities to their original dedicated communications infrastructures that were designed exclusively for building automation. New communications standards for web based communications such as XML, SOAP and Web Services have the ability to be used directly today in larger more capable controllers (note: for small controllers that are on dedicated wire, use of BACnet, LonTalk and proprietary protocols are likely to remain the primary solution).

Using these new standards in building control applications provides the ability to meet the owner needs listed above. The challenge however is to do this in an open, standard and interoperable manner. Today many building automation providers are using XML and web services in their current products or in those under development. However the use of XML is being done without standards - and while not proprietary, it is not readily interoperable.

So what should we do? I am proposing that we establish a consortium that will work on creation of a guideline for use of XML and Web Services in building automation and control applications. In particular this would deal with:

  • Data Modeling, units, accuracy, time standards, etc. for exchange of data. 

  • Definition of services for functions such as alarms, schedules, trends, etc. 

  • Methods for network discovery and configuration. 

  • Security in terms of both data authentication and encryption. 

  • Other areas as determined by the group.

I would suggest that we can start with much of the work completed in the existing standards and look at using this to create this proposed guide. Consortium members would be encouraged to apply the guideline to their products. The guideline would also be provided to standards organizations such as OASIS, ASHRAE, EIA/TIA, and others for potential acceptance. CABA has generously offered to host and provide administrative support for this consortium.

An initial meeting to gauge interest and begin planning will be held at BuilConn in Dallas on April 23rd from 1:00 - 3:00 PM. For more info on BuilConn go to: http://www.builconn.com . If you are interested in attending in person or via teleconference please RSVP to Kirk McElwain at mailto:kirkatcaba@sympatico.ca - Phone: 519.846.1916 or 888.798.CABA. 


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