Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Nathan Kehr and Ken Sinclair
Nathan Kehr is KMC Controls’ marketing manager overseeing brand
management, integrated marketing communications, and sales support. He
is a LEEDŽ Green Associate and an advocate for IoT connectivity and
sustainable design practices. Nathan holds bachelor’s degrees in
business and education from Indiana University and earned an MBA in
marketing and professional sales management at Ball State University.
Sinclair: What does the future of IoT for building automation look like?
Kehr: We believe that the real value drivers of IoT in the building automation arena will take the form of preventative maintenance, work order management, advanced sensing options for IEQ, energy optimization, and increases in productivity stemming from greater occupant comfort and well being. It’s easy to think of IoT in terms of interconnectivity and data access, but the possibilities beyond – once you’ve unlocked that potential – are unlimited. We’ve got to gather the right kinds of data and make it accessible in order to drive action and modify behavior. Once that foundation is set and standardized a bit more, we’re going to see an entirely new wave of analytics, applications, and operational standards. The world is going to change for the better.
Sinclair: KMC is partnering with tech giants Intel and Dell to make this vision a reality. What is the outcome of that collaboration?
Kehr: KMC began collaborating with Intel and Dell in the fall of 2014 and it’s been an excellent partnership all around. Each company brings a unique perspective and expertise in complementary arenas, all of which are critical to unlocking the power of IoT. The end product, which we will be exhibiting and demonstrating at the AHR Expo in Orlando, is KMC Commander™, the first purpose-built IoT appliance, analytics package, and visualization engine designed specifically for the building automation market. It features Intel processors and engineering by Dell with additional software stack elements and intellectual property by KMC. As a platform, it is designed to be open (via APIs), secure (embedded McAfee and other security elements), and scalable from a portfolio of small buildings to large installations.
Sinclair: What are the biggest challenges remaining for bringing IoT connectivity to such diverse systems?
Kehr: Many of the initial challenges pertaining to data tagging and normalization have been addressed with initiatives like Project Haystack. What we’re seeing now is a more macro-level convergence of operations technology and information technology that is changing the way businesses manage their portfolios and physical assets. For years, we were waiting for the technology to catch up to the market demand for connectivity. Now, the technology exists to make IoT real, but business processes, budgets, and human responsibilities must change to accommodate the convergence of the information and physical worlds. Additionally, security is always a consideration, and great strides are being made in ensuring that sensitive data is kept isolated and that systems remain secure. On the security front, education is key. The same technology (McAfee, etc.) that’s being used to protect financial and payroll information is now being deployed to protect building systems. Owners and property managers need to be made aware of how far security has come in a relatively short time.
Sinclair: What do you think the rate of adoption for IoT connectivity will be?
Kehr: We are still in the early stages of adoption, because the concept and technology are still new to many people. That said, we expect a geometric rate of adoption once platforms like KMC Commander are deployed at scale. Information drives action, and the first step is getting a platform in place to bring the right information to the right people in real time. By this time next year, we believe the rate of adoption will be very high comparatively.
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