The Internet of Things has finally arrived. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, it shows that 96% of the global business leaders surveyed expect their businesses to be using IoT in one form or another by 2016.
In a previous article titled, “I’ll have IoT with That Please”, I wrote about how there was a lot of discussion on what IoT means and how it impacts and relates to the world of commercial real estate and buildings. Back then I said that IoT is an important aspect to the overall ecosystem within commercial real estate and has and will continue to play a key role in how we interact, collaborate, operate, manage and “smarten up” our buildings. IoT is emerging as the third wave in the evolution of intelligent buildings.
Here we are eight months later and the discussions and this” third wave in the evolution of intelligent buildings” continues. We have seen existing and new building automation devices running our protocols within their particular domains and interoperate with one another; we are experiencing an increase in edge applications; we are taking data and making it self-describing and standardized; we are making data ready to be used and put in context with building operations and presented to the right persons at the right time to enable timely decision-making.
In keeping with this wave, I recently came across the Internet of Things Reference Model (above) published by the IoT World Forum and believe it applies directly to Building IoT.
This model breaks down into seven functional levels the variety of technologies and actions that, all combined, comprise Building IoT: Devices are connected and send and receive data interacting with the Network where the data is transmitted, normalized, and filtered using Edge Computing before landing in Data storage / Databases accessible by Applications which process it and provide it to people who will act and collaborate. The IoT Reference Model emphasizes the Edge what is expected to happen at the ‘Thing’ level.
So as we continue riding this third wave of Building IoT, there are certain drivers helping us steer through the twists and turns. Here are some:
- Significant shift in the way people acquire information, interact with each other, and make decisions
- New era where smart data technologies enable us to capture data from different sources, in diverse formats-with varying context; make it consistence and meaningful and use it across multiple applications
- Data self-describing with semantic modeling, common use of naming conventions and taxonomies
- Operational cost pressures
- Flattening of the network architecture and the new “edge”
- Connected Intelligence
- OT, IT and CBL (what I refer to as the Corporate Business Layer)
- Less human effort-more equipment and machines
- Interoperability and seamless data interchange between various facility sub-systems; networks of buildings; larger ecosystem of smart equipment and increased interface with a variety of stakeholders
So what is the relationship between buildings, IoT and BIoT? It is not about the number of devices or connectivity. It is about delivering business relevant outcomes and value that drives BIoT. In a built environment scenario, the business value is driven by the secured interoperability of related connected systems, devices and things and making the data contained within them self-describing that enable the seamless integration across multiple applications to improve operations, reduce costs and maximize occupant experiences. The value of Building IoT will only be realized if organizations can understand and leverage the data they produce. By creating value from the data generated from Building IoT, companies can improve operations, reduce costs, and enable valuable customer experiences.