Over the last 10 years there has been a slow progress towards Data-Driven Buildings and even today we are still some years away from being able to deliver cost effective solutions to satisfy building owners / operators. In order to achieve Smart Buildings we need to breakdown the silo’s between all the building services and integrate with the enterprise IT services in buildings.
There have been 2 major obstacles to achieve progress here. The first one being that the traditional contractual procedures in the design of building services separate the contracts for the different services; particularly the IT enterprise services. More recently in new construct contracts integration in Smart Buildings has been implemented by major controls conglomerates, through using IP and adopting a common communications protocol but not always using the same standard and having limited integration with IT enterprise services.
The second roadblock to achieving a Building Internet of Things (BIoT) is that it will require a two way communications network that will join all the sensors controllers and actuators in the building. There are a number of major communications network manufacturers that are offering this capability but none that we are aware of that yet have a proven 100% reliable solution. That is not to say that some major contractors cannot offer a fully connected building solution but sadly it is not likely to be a fully “open” one.
However the Internet of Things according to many research organizations, will rapidly grow at around 18% per annum over the next decade.. Yet the day-to-day reality of most building operations illustrates just how large the gap is from today to these "BIoT" buildings.
The majority of facilities teams today are constantly in fire fighting mode, lacking the actionable information needed to take an active operational stance let alone go all-in with BIoT. Operations executives are flying blind, struggling to find the insights needed to make data-driven decisions that meet financial objectives and promote future growth. How, then, does the industry bridge the gap between the buildings of today and the BIoT buildings of tomorrow?
This will be decided on how quickly we adopt a two way cyber resistant communication network, changes in contractual procedures and strengthening the routes to market. This last requirement is where todays System Integrators will need to acquire new skills particularly in networking technology when setting up and commissioning BIoT systems.
Software platforms will make this operation less tedious but understanding the fundamentals will be important when ironing out the bugs. Those SI’s that have embraced VSaaS, ACaaS and Cloud services will have an important contribution to make because projects must overcome issues of IoT adoption by designing systems meant to work in close harmony with cloud computing and AI from inception.
The advantage with new construction projects is the ability to embed capabilities of cloud-based optimization into the DNA of the building and integrate secure cloud-based control, testing, validation, and commissioning as a new build paradigm. However, these sophisticated buildings will still require fine-tuning in the commissioning process.
For example, in a pre-commissioning situation, the cloud can make sure all the “nuts and bolts” are in place and that sensors and devices work digitally and can be accessed remotely. Then during commissioning, the cloud can send commands and measure the efficacy of those commands. It can override units into a specific mode for all zones on a floor, see that the units responded, and look to see if the data correlates with the action.
All of this means that Systems Integrators will need to take on larger more complex and higher value add projects and this will require more investment; but will increase the size of the System Integrator business.