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It is now possible for most functions of the building’s technical performance, together with the business enterprise operation within the building to be linked together on one common platform. This has been made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows one common IP platform to link all the sensors and devices together to interchange information and through analytical software, optimize controls automatically without the need for human intervention.
The terminology applied to buildings that can achieve this is called the Building Internet of Things (BIoT), and the process of morphing all the BAS services into one whole system is now underway.
A BIoT system will overcome the present deficiencies of integrating systems and with time will be less expensive to install and operate and will allow the system to expand by simply adding new sensors and devices onto the network. You would expect building owners with large real estate portfolios to be very keen to get their hands on these ‘new toys’.
However they are cautious because they have invested heavily over the last 25 years in smart buildings, and after many false dawns, they are only now realizing most of the customer propositions that they were promised. Through the gradual implementation of open communication standards, they have released themselves from one of the major problems of being locked into proprietary systems that lacked robustness and were expensive to operate and difficult to scale up once installed. BIoT should deliver much more and eventually at a lower investment cost but building owners need to be convinced and that is taking time.
While BIoT has arrived, it is today largely restricted to applications in buildings that are not too complex and the same “open communications protocol” is acceptable across all of the devices that need to be connected. Today the race to become the de facto standard or standards for all the services has yet to be won and until this is decided the full implementation of BIoT in commercial buildings will be restricted.
At this time, most of the initiative and investment in BIoT development is being made by the IoT contingent, including the chip manufacturers and IT communications companies, and if this continues they will become the dominant force in this business. They hold all the new technology to deliver the IoT for a fully automated building. They have invested billions of U.S. dollars in developing products and services.
However, they know little about the design, installation, operation, and servicing of buildings, which is still within the domain of the manufacturers of BAS systems including suppliers of building performance software. In addition, these companies have direct access to a vast legacy real estate that will need to be retrofitted. These are some of the findings from our report – The Market for Building Performance Software 2016 to 2020.
These two camps need to be brought together to combine their expertise if the full benefits of BIoT are to be realized and meet the customer’s buying proposition. During the last three years the major companies in each camp have been working together and more recently have formed strategic alliances to develop both products and markets.
An even more positive measure of the need to share skills and expertise has been the rise in acquisition activity across these two technologies. These factors will enable a better understanding of how legacy standards and protocols can co-exist with newer solutions designed for full compatibility and interconnectivity. We will therefore need to find ways of integrating data sources in multiple formats for the foreseeable future, for we believe that no single standard communications protocol is likely to emerge to manage the flow of data between all devices, networks and the cloud.
But that is not the only thing that needs to change. The whole process of designing constructing and fitting out Smart Buildings needs the contractual procedures to be reformed for only then can building owners realise the vast opportunities that BIoT can offer.
Building performance software either at the edge or embodied in Big Data and cloud services will deliver a much more comprehensive service including;
- Analytics of past performance and trends, identifying potential maintenance issues that extend equipment life, reduce operating costs and minimize disruption, driving savings and providing quick payback on the cost of installing the solution.
- Aggregating building data with both business systems data and external data sources to better understand customer behaviours, competition, and market trends as well as improved monitoring of customer or tenant experience through the integration of social media feedback with video and movement sensing within commercial and office buildings can now be realised.
Beyond the direct benefits to users and facility managers, the BIoT has huge implications for decreasing the global carbon footprint, and will also revolutionize the way we collect data from buildings.
Generating datasets for security, energy consumption and more will be easier than ever before; because everything will be available on the cloud. If energy consumption statistics for an entire city are needed, for example, that information could be generated through automated data collection technologies embedded in HVAC cloud services.
BIoT and Big Data has so far not had much impact on Building performance software but we estimate that within 5 years it will account for a very significant share of revenues. For many years to come, building performance software will still go into the retrofit market through current channels particularly in small to medium buildings with the emphasis being on IWMS packages and not individual systems.
This article is based on our report The Market for Building Performance Software 2016 to 2020