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“Ever increasing amounts of data are generated by and within buildings. Several different systems exist to control climate, lighting, access control, etc., not to mention all the new data sources that emerge from IoT devices, all of which generate data. These large amounts of heterogeneous data need to be organized if they are to contribute to cost-efficient and environmentally friendly real estate management,” state RealEstateCore, a smart building to city technology facilitator that is keen to point out the inefficiencies that occur when so many communications standards coexist.

It is an issue that is being raised and addressed by a number of experts and organizations, and one that is holding back the development of the sector. By resolving the issue we allow smart buildings to reach for their full potential, not just through better integrating building systems but by better connecting the smart building with the smart city. Buildings are the city, and only by working well together can the city truly become “smart.” First, however, we must address the problems present within buildings, and starts with understanding the masses of data that now exists.

“Macro trends in technology are making it increasingly cost effective to instrument and collect data about the operations and energy usage of buildings. We are now awash in data and the new problem is how to make sense of it,” explain Project Haystack, an open source initiative to streamline working with data from the IoT.

“Today most operational data has poor semantic modeling and requires a manual, labor intensive process to “map” the data before value creation can begin. Pragmatic use of naming conventions and taxonomies can make it more cost effective to analyze, visualize, and derive value from our operational data.”

At the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for the Development and Application of Internet of Things Technologies (CDAIT) in Atlanta, a new research report seeks to find out what smart buildings really need from an IoT perspective. Entitled ‘Foundational Research in Integrated Building – Internet of Things (IoT) Data Standards’ the report recognizes that while a vast amount of IoT data originates in a building environment, it is often overlooked, resulting in a lack of inter-system connectivity that impedes the effective and efficient expansion of IoT.

“In this report, we propose a strategy and preliminary framework for building-level IoT semantic models and open data strategies,” says Pardis Pishdad-Bozorgi, leader of the team that put the report together and a faculty member of the School of Building Construction. “Semantic models, which, among other things, attach a fundamental and unambiguous description including spatial context to the data and their interconnection, are critical to fostering data interoperability between building systems.”

CDAIT is a Georgia Tech global, nonprofit, partner-funded center in Atlanta that fosters interdisciplinary research and education, in addition to driving general awareness about IoT’s potential and transformational capabilities.

This new report provides a brief review of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and IoT-Enabled Smart City Frameworks, as well as Building Information Modeling (BIM). It also explores how to develop data standards and protocols and puts forth foundational elements for a data acquisition framework for the smart buildings, communities, and cities.

“Buildings often incorporate proprietary networks of sophisticated sensors and actuators in the form of energy and security subsystems and smart home devices,” says Dennis Shelden, director of the Digital Building Laboratory, a separate Georgia Tech research center that pursues technology driven advances in design, construction, and operations for smart buildings. “Proprietary networks are a tremendous impediment to IoT interconnectivity and innovation. Articulating a sound strategy for connecting emerging IoT data standards with maturing building information standards can fast-track IoT adoption and expansion.”

Connecting emerging IoT data standards with maturing building information standards is the first step in developing cohesive, IoT rich smart buildings. While developing such buildings is a necessary step before we can hope to create smart cities that reach the potential they promise. That puts organizations like Brick, Project Haystack and RealEstateCore at the forefront of our journey to a smarter, greener, and more human-focused technology-rich future.