January 2017

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Darwin and the Dynamism of an Open Source Community at Work

Darwin is a good reminder of what it takes to survive times of upheaval, uncertainty, and challenge.
Therese Sullivan
Therese Sullivan,

BuildingContext Ltd

Contributing Editor

Click to download Haystack Connections digital magazine, Winter 2017.

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”   – Charles Darwin

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This observation from Darwin is a good reminder of what it takes to survive times of upheaval, uncertainty, and challenge. It feels like that now, as a new administration takes over in Washington DC—one that is on record as being climate-science-denying and fossil-fuel friendly. US government-supported energy R&D has, in part, propelled momentum in commercial building energy efficiency in recent years. There is no reason for this momentum to stall worldwide; but a pull-back in US investment could put American software, controls, and automation companies at a disadvantage. Hopefully, that won’t happen. But, looking at the Darwin quote again, I find a new appreciation for open source organizations like Project Haystack that have worldwide membership and focus. Even if the US government changes course, Project Haystack’s drive to work across applications, companies and geographies to standardize tagging and data modeling practices will continue.

Darwin and Dynamism

I’ve just finished putting together a new issue of Haystack Connections, and I’m feeling more confident than ever that 2017 will be a year when our industry thrives, not just survives. The Project Haystack vision is that, eventually, all building equipment, meters, and other building -connected devices and software will comply with standard tagging and modeling conventions. Specifying engineers will write their RFP’s with the clause that all vendors deliver devices and software with built-in support for Haystack data modeling. (By the way the Project Haystack offers a guide spec for engineers here.)  End users will have an established in-house point taxonomy that they communicate and enforce among all stakeholders in their buildings’ design, operations and maintenance. In the short amount of time that has passed since the publication of the Spring/Summer edition of Haystack Connections in 2016 and today, there has been steady and certain progress toward realizing this vision, for example:

There is a lot more to explore in the Winter 2017 issue.  More than that, I’m looking forward to the Haystack Connect conference this year. To apply Charles Darwin’s thinking, collaboration through open source and standards organizations is a vital adaptation that is enabling the entire commercial building industry to evolve in a sustainable way. Our events and publications are an essential part of how that collaboration happens.  I hope you like Haystack Connections. See you in Tampa in May.


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