Presented by ESC’s Vice President, Master Systems Integration John Matthews, GDI Ainsworth shared a learning lab called “Key Elements of a Smart, Smart Building” during the BOMEX 2021 Virtual Conference.
John highlights that smart buildings involve 6 separate phases, starting with Phase 0 – which involves starting smart.
“You need a good solid vision that captures the key: why?,” he says.
This big why often involves factors like marketing & retention, facility operations, safety & security, and sustainability. John says that a big challenge of this stage is aligning stakeholders who can be fractured into different groups.
It is also important to take the time to assess the current situation including plans for new builds and the core technologies of existing portfolios to ensure their connectivity to an OT network by building a use case catalogue.
“We need to start with a good understanding of what everything looks like,” says John.
Moving into phase 1 – John talks about the technology foundations of a smart building.
“With a good cybersecurity strategy in hand, the converged OT network is really the fundamental foundation layer of a smart building,” he says. “They allow for all the systems in a building to be connected so that we can start to gather data.”
Assets in a building are identified and can be easily searched by using Ontology, or tagging conventions. It is vital to select the optimal Ontology such as Brick, Haystack, or DTDL to make user interfaces highly intuitive.
Data lakes are another technology foundation necessary for Phase 1.
“There’s a lot of discussion in smart building strategies around data lakes and big data, however, in our view the big thing is actually the quality of the data,” says John.
Phase 2 involves building an intelligent building management platform involved in smart operations.
“This platform essentially forms the core of a good smart building set of systems,” he says. “With measures like extensive storyboarding, contextualized data, and a core integration engine, the platform becomes the foundation for the improved user experience.”
John highlights the importance of building an Intelligent Building Management Platform that is focused primarily on improving the overall user experience and simplifying & streamlining operations.
“It always breaks my heart to hear or see of an intelligent building platform in a functioning building gathering dust in the corner of an engineer’s office because it wasn’t designed in a way that really helped them with a day in their life,” he says.”
Smart Analytics are Phase 3 of a smart building, giving insights into system performance and using that data to enact change.
“There are insights available in the data that we collect from these systems in terms of their performance and their functionality,” says John. “Analytics allow us to draw an operators attention to a potential issue effectively as they can’t possibly inspect all of that data manually.”
Spatial analytics are also an important tool which allow operators to see how the spaces throughout their entire building are being utilized.
User experience is an extremely important part of smart buildings, which is why it encompasses Phase 4.
“Connecting users to the building allows them to visualize the spaces that they’re in,” says John.
He does emphasize though, that this heightened connection requires an increased level of data privacy and compliance not just from a legal perspective but also to protect the brand value of the building itself.
Another important factor in user experience is driving positive adoption rates with apps and use cases.
“If an app has fantastic feature functions, wonderful use cases, but isn’t being used because the occupants don’t understand what it’s capable of, how to use it, or aren’t even aware of it, adoption rates will suffer and the value can be diminished,” he says.
The last phase (Phase 5) involves smart autonomation and the digital twin.
“A digital twin captures the entire life history of every asset in the building, says John. “Optimally, that should begin at the commissioning stage.”
He emphasized that a plan to maintain a digital twin is vital, even if it appears to be daunting or cost prohibitive.
“There are many strategies that can be used to minimize costs to find balance between the cost and the benefits, resulting in a good ROI.”