Cheating “Death by 1000 cuts”.

The technological approach to a more sustainable future will most likely lie in harmonizing BACnet and IoT underneath a BACnet umbrella, utilizing Haystack and the likes to get things to talk together in a better way and to make it easier to apply analytics as well.

Part 1 of 2

The last couple of weeks have been extremely interesting on all accounts. Global giants are taking an interest in what we do, insurance companies, AI/ML companies, Telecommunication companies with 650 Million subscribers and the Maker Space movement are keen on getting started.

The traditional companies are moving upstream, trying to capture more value from end to end solutions. Whilst newer companies who are keen to talk benefits instead of tech are taking more ground at the top. A lot of them are okay with offering cool solutions that scale well, but they are not really talking to the core tech that is the building automation segment. It might also be the case that they are creating new proprietary solutions from end to end, getting the job done in a rather seamless way, albeit not always future proof.

All in all, there are a lot of things going on now which usually means a lot of possibilities but alas, there are some dark clouds out there on the horizon as well. I am of course talking about the severe integration challenges to come.

Are you talking to me?

Harmonization and future proofing are some of the main challenges for companies on all sides of the building automation industry. Individual vendors see it when they try to integrate their solutions with existing infrastructure. Most of them lose momentum altogether due to the lack of integration and arduous configuration needed.

Real estate owners are starting to see the problems with the APP-approach inside buildings and have stricter demands towards companies selling them solutions. They too are starting to see a cluttered environment where everyone seems to be solving everything at first. But in the end, it just adds to the complexity and amount to nothing but the buzz and not real value.

Solution providers for Real Estate owners/Managers as customers say that they have a real hard time selling their solutions if they can’t promise two things:

  1. Their solutions become a part of someone else’s umbrella platform
  2. Encapsulate other companies’ solutions, creating an umbrella platform.

Which basically means one thing. We see a shift from single source solutions to a platform economy for buildings. Or at least the urge to get there.

The value of being lost in time

Real estate companies are also worried that a lot of the value is being created by others, and they are missing out big time right now, but even more so in the future. There is a constant worry about companies like WeWork, who can go in, digitize buildings, and create exponential value for tenants by offering more flexibility and comfort, where traditional players have a hard time keeping up. There’s a lot of brain scratching going on, trying to figure out how they can innovate faster, without becoming a tech company themselves. Because that is the question of the times. The question if tech companies can learn Real Estate faster than Real Estate companies can learn Tech. And right now, Real Estate companies are fighting a losing battle.

Maybe it’s a battle they should be losing?

Inviting others to innovate

Maybe it is a battle best fought with the help of others? What if Real Estate owners could get their buildings connected, up to a point. And then let others innovate with their assets in a standardized way? Being locked in has its charm and proprietary has its perks as well. There is usually ONE company to blame, to ask, to glorify, and there’s usually more or less a seamless experience. Mixing and matching from different vendors and technologies, utilizing the API-economy can soon enough become a nightmare, and the API economy might not be the end solution after all.

However, most players do believe that freedom of choice, open standards, and service transparency is the way to go.

The death by 1000 cuts

With freedom also comes a huge responsibility.

Michael Johnston, the Lead Solutions Architect at CBRE, LEED AP, made some fantastic comments when asked about the current lay of the land in the IoT/API world. He agreed that everyone wants to get their gadgets into their buildings with what he referred to as a “low cost,” “peel and stick” approach to sensors with fantastic benefits to… everything! Companies will not only get energy consumption down by 105%, but they will also make your whole life a great deal better. Throw in a lot of exciting business models with recurring cost, and it slowly but surely ends up being “Death by 1000 cuts”.

He also adds that newer sensors might not even offer any actionable information that you can use to improve control or save energy. The gap between the old and the new is everything but new, but it is becoming more and more of a problem considering the explosion of sensors out there on the market.

This might be a classic “gimmicky is everything but gold”- situation and Michael sure comes with a viable critique on the cool end user-centric solutions that don’t necessarily add any real value in the long run which are a nightmare to manage.

Harmonization for the Nation

This situation will most likely become worse before it becomes any better. There will be a lot of integration problems and severe configuration problems moving forward. But this can be avoided if companies dare to think about disrupting themselves. If not, they are bound to get disrupted.

Inviting others from across disciplines is the way to go in order to bring future products to market faster. These insights and many more are being created when Ken Sinclair and John Petze are discussing the Maker movement, Edge-ifcation and what needs to be done.

Ken and John talk about it briefly that the key lies in the benefits such as “Comfort as a Service.” And that there must be a shift from a technology focus to that of end-user benefits.

I would take it a step further and post the question, what if end users could come up with the solutions themselves? We are already providing open modular hardware towards system integrators and the maker space, as discussed very briefly at the top. But what about the tenants? Is there a way to get them involved them in this space as well?

Avoiding the Death by 1000 cuts

The technological approach to a more sustainable future will most likely lie in harmonizing BACnet and IoT underneath a BACnet umbrella, utilizing Haystack and the likes to get things to talk together in a better way and to make it easier to apply analytics as well. We are working together with a couple of AI/ML companies in providing analytics in an easy, straight forward way.

In our eyes, the only way to cheat death is by harmonizing the IoT World and the Traditional BAS-world. Preferably BACnet and anything IoT considering the world dominance of BACnet as well as its inherent device to device communication properties.  Pook-Ping Yao at Optigo Networks talk about the fact that open, wireless and IP is on the rise, but there’s no doubt there’s a conservative approach in the business and wired still is the King.

Considering the growth of both the traditional BAS market and the booming IoT market and the “proptech” movement, companies have a 1,4 Trillion dollar opportunity merging both of these worlds.

The approach of getting data in and out via BACnet/WS and converting everything IoT into BACnet objects might be clear, and there are a lot of obvious benefits in doing so. Connecting IoT devices to the Internet, securely in a standardized way without losing functionality is the way to a sustainable future. Companies don’t need to worry all too much of what vendor they are using, what technology they are communicating with since there is the ability to make everything into BACnet objects. Great!

Smooth sailing when cheating death? Not yet, but there is hope. 

Making decisions

The big challenge seems to be to get people in the same room. On one side you have the system integrators who can utilize a more open, modular approach than ever before. They have the lego building blocks to create whatever needs to be created. Some wish to be at the forefront; others are biding their time, seeing what will prevail and are sticking to their proprietary guns.

There is a divide between R&D efforts and the people using the solutions, and this is also something that needs to be solved. Modularity is the key and robust solutions today might infer that they have the possibility to be re-configured and for firmware upgrades to take place. The maker space movement and the Edge-ifcation out there will certainly help in creating buildings that are robust, useful and attractive for the ones who need it the most. The walls need to be robust, but everything on the inside needs to become more flexible with people in mind.

In part 2, we’ll dig deeper into the business model side of things, and what companies can do to cheat death by 1000 cuts in terms of recurring business models. Because evidently, there are many things to think about and there’s no sure way to cheat death.

But I’d like to think there are many options out there which help. Platform thinking and an ecosystem approach with open standards, service transparency and a focus on people are in my opinion the best bet for long-term success. Think big, start small, but above all else, start.

The best decision is all about taking the right decisions.

The second-best decision is taking the wrong decisions.

And the worst decision is when you don’t take any decisions at all.

Go out there, get started, and if you need any help, we are here to make you make the most of the past, the present, and the future! 

Facility IT Interview with Nicolas Waern

This interview is one is a series of interviews by Anto Budiardjo on the subject of Facility IT.

Facility IT is a discipline lying at the intersection of Building Automation Systems (BAS), Facility Management (FM), and Information Technology (IT). It’s best described as the use of information technology to ensure that the building systems are performing and delivering on the needs of the organization who pay for and rely on the facility. Facility IT emerged from the New Deal for Buildings initiative.  

Anto Budiardjo:  What is your opinion on the Facility IT movement?

New Deal

Nicolas Waern:  My opinion is that it is a much-needed movement and there’s no better time than the present. I am quite new to the industry, but it is obvious that it is not IT, nor the technology itself which is lagging behind. It is us people, organizations and processes that are working in silos, not just the data. By reframing organizations with Facility IT in mind, we’ll soon start to see more value-driven organizations better fit to operate in a modern world.

However, there are imminent problems that need to be solved. The big question is if Real Estate can learn tech faster than Tech companies can learn Real Estate. Judging by what is hailed to be one of the smartest buildings in the world, the Edge in Holland, where Cisco and Phillips combined their efforts, I would say Traditional Real Estate Players are losing. Big time.

Anto Budiardjo:  How do Go-IoT solutions fit in the Facility IT space?

Nicolas Waern:  That’s a good question. I believe the Facility IT movement looks good on paper, but there are challenges on all sides that need to be solved in order for this dream to come true.

Technology is the one we can solve rather well. This is due to the fact that we can turn anything IoT into BACnet objects, leveraging BACnet/WS to create one way to and from the building. Together, this makes it possible to fit everything in and outside the building underneath the BACnet umbrella.

The major challenges that we solve at a very high level are:

  • Bi-directional monitoring and control are getting data in and out of buildings in a secure, standardized way.
  • Solving IoT/Legacy problems once and for all in buildings, creating a seamless world between the old and the new.
  • Possibility to apply Machine Learning and AI in a standardized way enabling faster time to value creation
  • Making it easier for others to innovate with buildings, creating new business models and new ways of monetizing.

This helps not only traditional BAS companies but also Analytics companies in that they get semantic interoperability between vendors and standards, speeding up the time to value creation using AI and ML at the edge and in the Cloud.

We have hardware, software and cloud products, and we are 90% software and 10% hardware. We believe in the ND4B three tenants, of open standards, service transparency, and digital twins. Furthermore, we believe that a customer has to have the freedom of choice and that the biggest lock-in effects we can have are by the very freedom we can provide.

What I mean by that is, if it sounds confusing, is that the way forward has to be about offering freedom of choice for customers. That will make them stay with your products, instead of forcing them to be locked in. And that is exactly what we do with hardware, software, and cloud. Pick everything, something, do what is best at any given moment. But of course, be sure to pick something!

And as such, I would say we are perfectly positioned to stand in the middle of Analytics, and FM services with a solid base in the BACnet BAS/BMS allowing our customers the freedom they need in order to make the most of all three sides.

Anto Budiardjo:  Would you consider Facility IT a focused subset of IoT?

Nicolas Waern:  I would consider IoT as a focused subset of Facility IT. IoT in itself is nothing but connected stuff. We are switching towards never talking about technology and only talking about the benefits one can derive from thinking differently.

The big value we can offer our customers lies in how we can help them to:

  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Improve quality
  • Support new business models (such as data-driven services)
  • and reduce costs.

And of course, how any effort resonates with the 3/30/300 rule and what benefits there are for the people, inside and outside of buildings.

I digress, but Facility IT is in my mind as the overarching term to encapsulate all that can be done combining OT, IT and IoT, with the overall focus of turning data into information which leads into action for a greater good.

Anto Budiardjo:  How does the European perspective of Facility IT differ from the US?

Nicolas Waern:  Due to the fact that our target market is in the US, and Asia, Asia-Pacific region, I can mostly speak from a Nordic perspective. Having talked with traditional BAS, BMS companies as well as Analytics and FM companies I feel that there is a great divide. Not only among the different companies, but also within companies themselves.

An example I had a recent discussion with one of the largest FM-companies in the Nordics. It was a workplace representative who never really did interact with the “other side” of the pond, traditional BAS people. Analytics were nowhere to be seen, not really anyway.  Even within a company, there are divides between disciplines.

Here in the Nordics, the challenges don’t lie in technology, but instead organizational processes, hierarchy, structures, and culture for existing companies. Again, this is something which is problematic, and this gives Tech-companies the upper hand, moving into a new scene, to understands what needs to be done, and to execute it.

On a side note, BACnet is nowhere to be seen here in Sweden. Even seasoned industry professionals sometimes haven’t heard about it; this opens up even more for fragmentation in an already fragmented market.

Anto Budiardjo:  What advice would you give readers on making the most of Facility IT?

Nicolas Waern:  The best option in this turbulent world is to take the right decisions. The second best option is to take the wrong decisions. And the third is to take no decision at all.

I think it really depends on who the reader is and what they want to achieve. Again, don’t focus on technology but rather give it a benefit-driven, outside-in approach. The outside-in perspective is crucial in today’s environment, and companies will have a much better chance of making the most of Facility IT also thinking about product market fit from the get-go. Focus on doing the right things is more important than doing things right.

I am also a bit worried that this becomes an IT issue which is definitely wrong on all accounts. This needs to be connected to a strategic issue on the highest level where close interdisciplinary interaction, with a focus on action, is the key. IT should be seen as an enabler, with business as the driver.

My final advice to everyone in this industry is to stop talking about technology, focus on the why, get buy-in at the higher levels, and plot out a course to truly leverage all that Facility IT has to offer. But above all, get out there, ruffle some IT/OT and IoT feathers and just start something!

Let me know if you need any thoughts on where to start; I am after all the Building Whisperer – Making buildings talk to people.

Introduction to IoT

IoT and getting more things connected, is a vital step in the journey towards smarter buildings. An IoT strategy will allow professionals to add additional ways of measuring the status of buildings, dig out data that is hard to get out today, and also create data where there is none. Improving data flow from assets will be vital in the development of smarter buildings.

Is IoT special at all?  Is it possible to earn more money by doing less work? We are about to find out! In this special, I’ll try to convey our thoughts on the whole “Go-IoT” movement that is out there. I aim to paint a picture of the dynamic landscape that is in the process of forming and what we have seen is trending in the industry today, and what will stick until tomorrow. I’ll also dig a little bit deeper into the realm of building automation, and I will probably conclude with the management ethos – “It depends” when it comes to what should go where.

The basic definition from Wikipedia is that The Internet of Things” is the network of devices such as vehicles, and home appliances that contain electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact and exchange data.”

To be honest, I’d like to talk about the BIoT or CoT instead of IoT, and that means Building IoT and Connectivity of Things. This doesn’t necessarily mean access to the internet, but instead allowing products of different standards, sizes and location to talk to each other. Internet usually comes in play in one or the other, but it doesn’t mean that everything should be connected to the Internet and nor will it. Connected devices outnumber IoT, even though they are heavily related.

Security is one big factor that I won’t go into depth about, most of the “IoT-technologies” are more secure and encrypted than WI-FI. But it all depends, and the strongest chain has its weakest link, always.

If you want to get to the pure building automation part, skip three headlines and scroll down to the “How to keep up”- section. But if you are interested in knowing a little bit above and beyond Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN, keep reading. Because here comes the basics!

Whac-a-mole of things

The co-founder of one of our partner companies iioote, Robert Spertina, usually opens all their meetings with a game of Whac-a-mole. It is a simplified version of the constraints that you have when deciding on what IoT solution might be the best choice. Brilliant, and accurate.

Figure 1

Figure 1. How to choose IoT Technology by iioote

Basically, it all comes down to three areas, WAN (WPAN), LPWAN and LAN (WLAN);

  • Data traffic size
  • Energy consumption
  • Range

As of today, you can have two maxed out, but never all three. If you want to have a lot of data sent back and forth, over long distances, you’ll have to sacrifice the energy consumption.

If you want to have low energy consumption and a lot of data traffic, then you sacrifice range. And as I alluded to in the beginning, it all depends. Humidity sensors and water leakage detection in buildings might be more suitable for LoRaWAN as well as any geographically dispersed meters requiring long battery times.

If these bubbles above would be weighted we would clearly see that the “bubble” to the left will be double that of the bubble at the top. And the LPWAN bubble to the right, with the classic 10 year battery life slogan, is but a fraction of the other two bubbles.

However, a major part of the growth will come from the LPWAN segment, making it very interesting in that respect and a booming market.I will go through some of the standards on a very high level, skipping a lot of the granular pros and cons.  This could of course be covered in a 1 on 1 session if interested (shameless plug)!

LPWAN technology

LowPoweredWideAreaNetwork. These below are up and coming and could be seen as the more traditional IoT networks (in my opinion). Sigfox is a French network operator, and they are the baby brother in the LPWAN segment. Great for low packet sizes, long range, not critical data, 10-year battery life (depending on traffic intervals) and great for some needs, water monitoring, agriculture. Similar to them is the baby-version of Weightless (a little bit more below).

LoRa, LoRaWAN and Symphony Link. These are the “middle” brothers and have all an abundance of products vetted by the LoRa Alliance. Great for smart city ecosystems and LoRaWAN, in particular, has a quite high adoption rate in Europe and coming on strong in Australia propagated by companies such as Meshed.

LoRaWAN has the potential to be truly open but is also seeing lock-in effects from vendors and providers managing some, if not all parts of the infrastructure. This is neither good or bad, but there’s also the rapid development of TTN (The Things Network). They are doing quite an amazing job in providing tools to create a truly open and potentially robust global Internet of Things network based on LoRaWAN and are up to 5000 gateways worldwide.

Other contenders in this area, before moving on to the “Team Telco” part of the 3GPP organization is Weightless, spearheaded by Ubiik that rely on Semtech technology. Great in some cases, worse in others.

The big brothers (or sisters) in this field come in the form of NB-IoT and LTE-M, CAT-M, which are supported by the 3GPP organization as mentioned above. Basically, these are “Telco-powered” solutions utilizing SIM-cards with high reliability, larger data packets, and offers a bit more flexibility at a somewhat higher price. There is an industry-wide consensus that NB-IoT and LTE-M will overtake both Sigfox and LoRaWAN as the most used IoT standard out there in the foreseeable future.

However, due to the recent Huawei scandal, we will see global ramifications in the uptake of NB-IoT and the jury is still out on this one. This is great for Sigfox and LoRaWAN, but a disaster for Telcos. But in any case2G will be obsolete in the coming years, LTE-M could be a good alternative even though it operates on a 4G network. GSM, LTE, 4G are there, and 5G will be disruptive, but the resiliency is not there yet infrastructure wise. Infrastructural challenges, not enough sensors in the market has stifled a bit of the expected growth regarding NB-IoT/CAT-M adoption, which is why the emergent LPWAN/IoT industry still is a very open field.

Emerging platforms, BACnet/Mesh and ROI focus

In the home automation space, there’s also the more classic IoT technologies that are still very much prevalent. We have ZigbeeZ-waveBluetooth/Bluetooth mesh, and of course Wi-Fi, RFID, NFC and many others, Wireless Mbus, being one somewhat applicable for building automation. There’s also the “mesh” variants that most of these have in common, but with different approaches.

The aforementioned standards and protocols provide more local control and are mostly intended for home automation or light building automation where integrating to existing BMS isn’t a priority. That said, Zigbee and Thread are joining dots in addressing IoT industry fragmentation under/over a protocol called dot dot.

Industry experts have agreed that Zigbee doesn’t scale well in comparison to other applications, but Thread is seen as an option that is very well suited for building automation purposes of scale. It is open, it is on an IP level, and it is rapidly gaining supporters worldwide with vendors such as Cascoda, going where traditional Wi-Fi won’t or can’t.

Enocean is another great protocol/product that uses battery-free, energy harvesting technology and has some of the coolest products we’ve ever seen. These can be used in a wide variety of application areas, but one is for the smart hotel room as seen here.

Other solutions are Wirepas, who’s coming on strong with their ubiquitous approach to IoT, and also LumenRadio, who’s got a phenomenal frequency jumping, lighting controlling, offering reliable mesh communication for industrial and building automation applications. LumenRadio is the brain that makes the demand controlled ventilation system from Swegon so robust.

And one of the most interesting solutions that we have seen, that are very fitting for building automation is that of Conectric. They have great solutions, focusing on simplified data collection, and thus being affordable, reliable, robust, ultra-scalable, easily connecting to 50 000 sensors and beyond. We are in the process of joining efforts and getting a BACnet Mesh solution to the market, where old Modbus-RS-485 meters, communicate through wireless instead of wires. Phillip Kopp, CEO of Conectric, has a great mind in this area and he says it all comes down to ROI. They can show ROI in 1,5 years, a clear business model, with 10 years of battery life. Some other companies might show ROI in 3 years and must replace batteries within the next 3-5 years, and complicated as a service business model.  Good solutions should emphasize positive ROI by not just maximizing battery life but being clear about how many message reporting you will actually get for that long life. Some solutions may send 10,000 messages over 10 years, while others may send 10’s millions.

How to keep up with all of this?!?

Let the technology experts focus on technology and let you be the expert of your domains. Because the fact is that keeping up with the times, these days, is a challenge on its own. I think most of us agree that technology shifts are happening fast, and it is hard to keep up with the times. Sustainability is a key factor, and with more demands for dynamic workplaces, we see that even buildings need to keep up with the times. Providing buildings that are robust, useful and attractive these days, are more about people comfort, and it is about energy savings. The classic too cold/too hot scenario which provides a great average is an obsolete way of thinking. Siemens acquiring Comfy was a great play in the direction of making buildings more suited for people, by allowing people more control of their own surroundings. And that is also where IoT comes in because it can enable easier access and control, allowing companies to do more, with less.

But even for the global giants, it is difficult to keep up with the times. And as discussed, today it is possible to create your own solutions from open products and protocols, avoiding the cloud of both global Telecommunication providers, as well as building automation giants. Open hardware and open software allow for more flexibility in the market, and that’s the great part! Freedom of choice.

The answer to how to keep up with all of this is that you shouldn’t. Well, it depends if you are a vendor agnostic company like us, yes. We need to keep track of everything that is happening because we want to enable cutting edge technology in an open, modular way. If the IoT technology you selected four years ago is now obsolete, choose another one! Don’t rip out the whole system, just the part that needs upgrading. The one thing that system integrators, real estate owners or anyone else except for the IoT companies themselves should think about is your own problems.

The most important thing right now is that companies building solutions open a dialogue with the ones using solutions on the market. What are you using today? What are the challenges with that? Are there any challenges? What do you wish you could do?

It all depends, but it needs to be standardized

Considering all of the amazing technology solutions out there today, you might think that you need to keep up with the times and know exactly what they are good for or not. No, you don’t. But you need to ask if your solutions can pass the test of time, or if you are locked into something that will be hard to replace in 5 years. I recently argued that IoT would be a subset of Facility IT and that’s the same with IoT in reference to Building IoT. Buildings provide a much more complex landscape than home automation, and that is why we believe that IoT needs to be standardized underneath a device to device communication protocol. The President of BACnet argued the same thing at this year’s AHRexpo in Atlanta, stating that “Alexa has left the building – because Building IoT is so much more.”

That said, from a building automation perspective, you need to know what problems to solve. What is the existing technology you want to collect data from? At what intervals? Where do you want to send the data? Do you want to run analytics on it? Want to be able to have bi-directional control? Where in the building do you want to collect data?

Do you want to collect data from existing networks or do you want to be able to collect new data in a wireless way? A lot of questions that need answering and these need to be answered, together, through a dialogue. The really great solutions will only come into fruition when “IoT” companies create an open dialogue with the end user, creating products together that are fit for purpose. We all need to collaborate more in order to keep up with what can be done, and what needs to be done.

What is it (not) good for?

This article discusses the value of IoT for Smart buildings, and it provides great information about where we are today, and the value with Connected buildings.

“However, the value in IoT for smart buildings will likely not be in the addition of millions of new internet-connected sensors, but in new software applications that use existing data from existing equipment to make buildings operate better.”

So basically, the answer to “What is it good for?” according to this article- is absolutely nothing.

Agreeing with the argument, that existing data and connectedness might imply little to no use of IoT. Then we’ll see the blue ocean of everything between home automation and large commercial real estate automation is the true sweet spot of IoT; which in fact, is 100% true. That is an untapped opportunity that will continue to grow once the technology becomes cheaper and more powerful.

But in my mind, the article somewhat misses the point with the Internet of Things in a smart building context. Creating new software applications running on an IP level of buildings is something that the “Super” System integrators do today. Nothing new, even if it is at the cutting edge. In fact, I had the immense pleasure of viewing the Entrocim platform from Hepta Systems last week, demonstrated by Jason Houck and it was the best thing I’ve seen in this industry thus far. They have gotten the grasp of virtualization, cybersecurity, fault detections and running analytics on real-time data. They have taken everything from the buildings that was there to take, creating a phenomenal looking dashboard providing insight into everything that was going on in the building.

There are two reasons why I find this phenomenal.

  1. They have decoupled hardware, software and applications in such a way that data truly is the gold, and the applications on top are what turns the gold into jewellery.
  2. Companies like them will bridge the gap between IT/OT, IoT and facility IT and will hopefully be the glue that creates the foundation of a better world for everyone.

They have successfully leveraged the solutions that are out there today, and by doing that, freed themselves, and their customers, to the lock-in effects most companies succumb to on a daily basis. That said, they most likely utilize analytics tools and application stacks from globally recognized vendors. But they are not dependent on vendors supplying their total solutions like before.

IoT as a path creation tool for an open future

Not relying on existing, but instead enhancing capabilities in a smart building context is where IoT comes in. Providing data that is not there yet, allowing anyone with the capabilities to not only dig out data that is hard to get, but also create data in ways we haven’t thought about yet. IoT provides a (possibly) secure channel away from lock-in effects, normalizing data in the way you want it to be. Path dependency turned into path creation and a shift away from wired to wireless.

The thing is, we are talking about buildings so really it makes little sense to do anything but very short distances inside of the building itself. Cell phones work indoors because the radio tower is extremely powerful utilizing many kilowatts. If you do that inside everyone will get cancer and die from radiation. Of course, this can be mitigated/solved by having a “miniaturized cloud” from Cloud backend, on the edge (in/around the building) that communicates with cell phones, caching data where it’s needed. Combined with high bandwidth data, you can miss a lot of information and algorithmically fill in the blanks and get a good picture, so it’s not that important to get everything, which is the opposite of low bandwidth data that might get lost on the way. With low bandwidth data you have small data sizes so if you miss something, you might as well miss everything because you will never be able to figure out the missing pieces. But again, it all depends.

The whole premise with IoT is doing more with less, and IoT will provide an enormous benefit to the OEMs (having dial home functions), destroying the very idea of focus groups, bringing R&D and insights to a real-time level. The fact is that IoT today is still emerging, and we haven’t begun to see the applications that will be built on these emerging standards. It all comes down to what is smart or not. Hailed as “The smartest building in the World”, the Edge in Holland has 28000 wired sensors. Wired. Because who would want to change 28000 sensors?

I would still argue that IoT will only be special when it is standardized underneath a building automation umbrella. Otherwise, it will be part of the whole 1000 cuts challenge. Open hardware, open software and an open cloud approach revolve around finding the correct solutions for the customer, and not about finding a correct customer for a specific solution.

If you believe for one second that Bluetooth is the coolest thing out there, you are dead wrong. But if you also believe that you shouldn’t start, you are even more wrong. Because the most important thing is that you get a grip on the problems you want to solve, what you want to do better, and get out there and start doing something!  I will cover more about the business benefits in the next article, and also explain why the 80/20 rule doesn’t apply to IoT and analytics.

As always, if you are in doubt about anything, let us know! After all, I am the Building Whisperer – Making buildings talk to people.

Reflections on Cybersecurity Summit @AHRExpo

Closed and proprietary systems don’t mean secure. Open systems approach doesn’t mean insecure.

Anto Budiardjo:  Good seeing you at AHR, what was your big picture take?

Nicolas Waern:  Great seeing you! Good question. The big picture was that people seem more open to change than last year and the overall discussion was on a different level. It seems that the importance of data is creeping in more and more in the building automation realm as well. Analytics not so much, yet, and also that the building is getting more focus from one player in a larger city ecosystem.

Paradoxically, I also asked a guy working with boilers, how much the industry had changed the last 30 years.

What did he say?

“Hm… nothing I guess. It’s pretty much the same”.

And that tells me at least two things. It can’t be that many industries that have stayed the same for the last 30 years, and how great that must feel. And wow, there are so many opportunities in getting things connected that we don’t have to worry about things to do!

Anto Budiardjo:  What was your take on the Cybersecurity Summit

Nicolas Waern:  It was really early. Inhumanely so… but once I had booted up my system after the trip from Sweden, I really thought it was a great summit with a lot of interesting perspectives. Closed and proprietary systems don’t mean secure. Open systems approach doesn’t mean insecure.

Not realizing the difference between the two might make people insecure, and that’s basically where the industry is today. Most companies and people know that they need to do something about “it” (IT), But not necessarily how, when, or even why. And coming from a BAS standpoint it is evident that the building automation community can, and also should, only do as much. We need a collaborative approach in order to understand, detect, and to solve important issues.

Jim Lee from Cimetrics always provides thought leadership at its finest, and grimmest. Will tech companies learn BAS first? Or will BAS learn IT first? There is an overall mindset that building automation is fighting a losing battle against tech companies. If we are on the Titanic, should we jump into the water and start swimming or take up an instrument? Right now, it feels like there are a lot of people that want to join the band, instead of diving into cold water, holding hands with people from other backgrounds, learning IT, and coming out stronger in the end.

Most of the drivers in getting things connected lie in the 90% legacy buildings and not in the 1% of new construction. The refurbishment market probably takes up 9% of the buildings that exist, if that. Adopting security strategies for buildings that aren’t connected, even in the slightest, might be a moot point. And I’ll come to the point what that means for the future of BAS and building automation.

Getting buildings to a level of connectedness also means that more security aspects have to be taken into consideration. And it’s also about keeping buildings up to date. Overall, security and ethics discussions, as well as spending, within building automation is pretty scarce. Unsurprisingly so considering the fact that we are now starting to really see a movement of connected buildings. But we better learn fast, because lives depend on it.

Anto Budiardjo:  Any observation of US-Europe differences in cybersecurity?

Nicolas Waern:  Good question. I think it’s largely the same in the fact that buildings are not that connected, yet. There’s still a gap in both markets in that there’s a lot of movement with “top” solutions considered more Proptech. And then there’s the more traditional building automation segment that is getting more and more connected.

It’s actually a definite advantage of having one vendor supplying systems because it means less fragmentation in an already fragmented context. Providing that unified experience, somewhat sacrificing openness and flexibility, might work in favor of a more secure building. I haven’t seen the dragons talk about it that much, but I definitely see this as a plus. We have the GDPA (General Data Protection Act) seeping into almost every conversation that revolves around data, which might slow adoption down a bit. Otherwise, no, not really. Buildings are quite insecure, and even though I love BACnet, it might have some security concerns due to its inherent openness. Something which I know is being addressed in the upcoming BACnet/SC (Secure Connect) and BACnet/IT. I know it is not finalized yet, but as far as I know, it will address security challenges such as.

  • Encrypted communication (TLS)
  • Site-based authentication of devices (TLS)
  • Carrier for user authorization data (oAuth 2.0)

For us, at Go-IoT, we see this as a welcome addition and extension to our already powerful adaptation of BACnet/WS (Web Services). Getting data in and out of buildings will happen more and more, and it’s important that it’s very secure. This will most likely drive down cost and complexity in buildings, paving the way for more robust, useful and powerful edge gateways, acting as universal boxes in buildings.

Anto Budiardjo:  Do you see the MSI movement in Europe?

Nicolas Waern:  That’s a really good question because I do not see it that much. I could be wrong here, but no, I haven’t seen it that much. I was very impressed by the MSI (Master System integrator) movement and the SSI (Super System Integrator) movement in the US. And I am surprised by my own answer considering that the Nordic scene is much more fragmented than the American one, due to the lack of BACnet dominance in the market. As such, MSI’s should be more visible, but then again, their work would be much more difficult if they can’t stand on a BACnet/IP foundation for harmonization.

I could be wrong here, and if you, or anyone reading this, know about any MSIs who think I am an idiot for saying that the MSI movement is not that present, please let me know. I’d love to know who they are and to learn what their needs are.

Anto Budiardjo:  I saw you talk about the future of BAS. Highlights?

Nicolas Waern:  Since it is 10x easier to adopt security strategies if there actually is a network to work with, I’d say that smart will keep getting smarter in a faster pace than dumb will get smart. We’ll soon see a major shift, and eventual rift, between buildings that are “smart” as well as secure, and the ones that are not.

That will most likely lead to a higher value in “smarter buildings” because the supply and demand will be disparate to the pace of innovation. Would you expect your 200 people workforce to use a phone that is 20 years old? No. And the same will soon be said about any commercial office space.

Highlights otherwise, we have a lot of things to do in order to get buildings where they need to be. More than open hardware, more than open software, we need open minds. Jobs will be replaced and automated, but skills around legacy systems, if used correctly, will be even more important in the next decades. Don’t fear disruption, embrace it and become a master at what you do, focusing more on jumping into the chilly water below and hold hands with someone from the upper decks (IT) to create a better future.

The evident drivers from a purely monetary perspective are not here, yet. But companies are becoming more data-driven, and we all (most of us at least) know that data is the new gold. Real estate owners are sitting on gold mines, and the one who made the most money during the gold rush were the ones who sold shovels. There are phenomenal opportunities for companies with the right mindset, knowledge, and speed to market.

Anto Budiardjo:  What caught your eye on the show floor?

Nicolas Waern:  They are actually competitors of ours, but I couldn’t help looking at some of the great products that Contemporary Controls have. Zach Netsov and basically everyone else I talked to from CC impressed me greatly. You can almost see it in their controls that they are built with an insane amount of understanding of the market, and what people want to use. The sheer amount of people visiting them, and providing rave reviews of their products, was just wow, really inspirational. I think we are better in some ways (I need to say that) but certainly an inspiration for others in the industry. Security is in everything that we do at Go-IoT, but it was great to see it was also on their minds, and it’s becoming more important each day.

Enocean always packs a punch, and it is exciting to hear about new innovations in their energy harvesting line. Visual BACnet from Optigo is something we’ll try to introduce to our customers this spring, and the BACnet themselves, with Dave Nardone in the lead, are always great to talk to.

Anto Budiardjo:  You mentioned the lack of BACnet demand in Europe, do you see this changing?

Nicolas Waern:  What I said was that in the Nordics, BACnet is nowhere to be seen. Not really anyway. We are still on a bus level so to say, and that adds complexity to an already fragmented market. What I didn’t say was that there was a lack of demand. Far from it. I think there’s a growing demand for a device-to-device communication protocol that specializes in building automation. So I think one of the most growing markets might actually be here in the Nordics in the next decade.

“Forget about BACnet. It’s a legacy protocol, Haystack and wireless will replace BACnet” might someone less familiar with the ins and outs of building automation feel, and probably say.

I believe this is wrong. Haystack sits perfectly on top of BACnet, and yes it can take out existing BACnet data in an easy way, also providing much-needed tagging. However, getting data out, supporting BACnet top-down, left and right is nothing that Haystack can do today, and will have a slim chance of doing as well. And why should it?

Most people with in-depth knowledge agree that BACnet/WS and BACnet/SC will lie the foundation of taking data in and out of buildings, and haystack will be a vital piece of the puzzle, as an important component that is closer to the application layer. I feel that IoT and wireless are booming more and more here in the Nordics, and Europe, and this will drive demand towards standardization. This will lead to BACnet becoming more and more adopted as a standardization layer for IoT applications, where Alexa is bye-bye, and BACnet is… Hi hi. President of BACnet, Andy McMillan had an hour session dedicated to this trend, and that the need for security, and standardization, is exponentially higher with building automation than it is with home automation.

In summary, I strongly believe that the demand for BACnet will see a great increase in adoption for the next decade.

Anto Budiardjo:  Any other thoughts on AHR in Atlanta?

Nicolas Waern:  Meeting my idol, Ken Sinclair, is always an amazing experience and it’s a blessing to be able to take part in his thoughts about the past, present, and the future.  

It was great to be invited to speak about “Open Hardware – Open Software” together with fellow panelists Zach Netsov, Calvin Slater and Brad White. These guys… the amount of knowledge they have on the industry as well as the passion? Wow. Inspiring.

And that leads to one more thing that I have to say. I think the people working with the more “traditional” aspects of building automation, and not management fluff, platform thinking services like me, are the unsung heroes of this world. Getting the right tools to them, utilizing their skillsets in a higher degree is of utmost importance. Not only because there is a knowledge shortage gap in the industry today, but because their skill sets are so important.

This is important since I think people got the wrong idea about the idea of open, and that it’s only about job destruction. Yes, the industry will shift towards becoming more digitally mature. And yes, we see more “IT” people coming into the industry, learning BAS as we go. But this doesn’t mean that people should be scared. Far from it. Embrace and adopt new technologies, or at least partner up with someone who knows about it. It’s all about collaboration and communication that will take buildings to the next level.

Ask not what you can do for your building, ask what the building should do for you. And if you have a hard time asking, or listening? Just let me know, and I’ll be happy to see if I can help out!

Nicolas Waern
The Building Whisperer

Your Building with Artificial Intelligence on the Edge

A bit scary? This is terrifying! But anything and everything is terrifying if you put it in the wrong hands.

Sinclair:  Hi Nicolas! How have you been since Atlanta? I know you have two small kids, and that usually means sleepless nights. Maybe you have a need for some Artificial Intelligence?

Waern:  Hey Ken, everything is great here in Sweden, can’t complain! And even though it was great in Atlanta, it certainly feels like it happened a lifetime ago. Yes, there are the occasional sleepless nights with Isabeli and Maximus. But there’s so much going on at the moment that I feel like my intelligence level is increasing every minute! Maybe, I, don’t need artificial intelligence in the future, but I know for certain that our customer’s buildings do! Because as you know, if you want to sleep better, you should invest in a smarter building. Not sure if it would help, yet, getting toddlers back to sleep, but combined with sensors and wearables, it would give me insights as to what might be the problem.

And that should be the starting point for any future AI/ML _Insert technology here_ initiative. Not directly see what AI could do, but think about it from a company perspective, “How ready are we for AI to begin with?”

Sinclair:  That’s what I wanted to talk about. AI – Artificial intelligence, ML – Machine learning, Big data, Data lakes, all of these things, are they for real? Or just buzzwords?

Waern You forgot Brain-Computer interface, Quantum Computing, IoT, BioT, Edge computing, Fog computing, Distributed intelligence and probably 10 000s more examples like these. According to Gartner, we’ve got our hands full, and a lot of the hype hasn’t gotten through widespread adoption just yet. But I would say that things are moving. A lot of buzzwords 2-3 years ago have materialized into real products and solutions in the market, and I thought I’ll briefly go through some thoughts that I have had.


Operate your building from the future
Running your building two hours from the future might be interesting to know more about, and it’s actually not that difficult. I am often asked about the need for historical data in buildings. And as always, I answer “it depends.” The data quality plays a major role in current AI/ML initiatives, and not all data is something you can work with straight off the bat. It’s often vice versa that a lot of effort goes to cleaning historical data and where new targeted data can lead to faster times to value creation. And that’s why having more logic on the edge (in the buildings), such as ML/AI running on a box, could offset that fact and at certain times even replace the need for historical data.

Let me give you a real example. We have a customer who owns a mall. They want to run this mall from a digital twin operating two hours into the future, which is an actual use case which we are in the process of developing for them.

Ideally, they want to optimize energy usage, improve tenant well-being, sell some services to their customers in the food court (restaurants) so that they can improve their customer experience. This, in turn, will lead to more people in the mall and gain additional insights on how to save energy, predict equipment failure and to get the whole 3/30/300 rule benefits that come with a smarter building.

What to do
One approach that is quite easily executed is to put one of our DINGO BMS Controllers/Microcomputers in the building. Connect HVAC-R, meeting booking system, outside temperature, CO2 sensors, occupancy, camera and we pool that data in the microcomputer in the building, connecting it easily via RESTful APIs, and BACnet Web Services. We start feeding the DINGO data, standardize it underneath a BACnet umbrella, and an algorithm created from a 3rd party small-footprint library will learn how the building behaves during any given day or week. It will create a DNA for the building from scratch. This algorithm can be distributed at sensor level as well as cloud level, making use of brain power where it needs to be.

The building (with some human help to get it going) will learn that on Thursdays, at lunch-time, there’s a 30% guest increase to one of the restaurants in the food court because of the daily special “Pea-Soup and Pancakes.” The camera, who’s also got some logic through a 3rd party application, detects the long lines, as well as disgruntled faces, and combined with social media ratings, we can see the restaurants get 0,6 stars lower rating because of this fact exactly at this point in time.

So, how can AI/ML help? Well, it can then deduce that the next time, the building will mitigate the 30% increase in people by supplying more air before lunch, off-setting any negative impacts it might have. A third party app connected to the network translates machine-to-text-to voice, sends a WhatsApp message to the office manager, reminding the restaurant that they need to staff up and prepare, because “remember what happened the last time.”

In summary, the building will learn when people are moving where, how they behave and become aware of what it needs to become aware of. Furthermore, if we have 200 buildings connected, these can also learn from each other, which is where the true value lies in that building to building communication will lead to exponential increase in value, insights, new business models and of course, ease of innovation.

And this is all possible today, quite easily as well if I say so. Getting things connected, forming a platform of data to draw conclusions from is a must for any AI/ML driven approach.

Sinclair:  Okay, Nicolas, that sounded… very far off! But I like it! Having the building talk to you is definitely humanistic and inclusive. But isn’t this a bit scary?

Waern A bit scary? This is terrifying! But anything and everything is terrifying if you put it in the wrong hands. So yes, there are definitive challenges with data security, privacy, and technical challenges as well, and there are immediate concerns with hacking and not least the ethical perspective to think about.

But maybe the real question is if this approach is really needed? Maybe there’s no room for traditional food courts anyway so this approach to innovation is just obsolete and we need to think about deletion, instead of evolution. Maybe the answer is just these self-checkout solutions instead?

That’s the thing. Companies need to identify what is there right now, where do we want to go in terms of functionality, and possibly feelings as well? The existing status is to be annoyed, warm, irritated, because of the long lines and poor indoor climate. The solution is to get rid of those feelings with any means necessary. And that’s what AI/ML and any parts of technological improvements are all about. To make things better, easier.

The whole ransomware movement for Personal Computers will slowly but surely find its way into buildings as well. And that will be very scary. Imagine if someone would hold your entire HR department (no offense to HR) hostage, locking doors, supplying too much air to the room, short circuit some stuff, and cause an explosion. Or just suck all the air from the room, or something else made possible having a “connected building.” They will only release the hostages if headquarters wire $20M to some company on the other side of the World.

Without the correct skill-set in securing the IT and OT infrastructure, we will see this more and more.

Sinclair:  That sounds more than scary, terrifying even! Is there anything AI/ML can do to help offset these risks? Any real value to the HVAC-R part perspective?

Waern Going back to the HVAC/R parts of the equation I think that “the connected everything” has its pros and cons.

“Because Building Automation is simple,” right? David Peters, General Manager at Elliot Controls Inc, started a very interesting discussion on Linkedin the other day, that has got a lot of attention worldwide. He posted this image below arguing that;

“All we have to do is control three variables (flow, temperature, and pressure) in two types of media (fluid or air) using four pieces of equipment (valves, pumps, fans, and dampers).  The logic is very easy to arrange. The sequences of operation may not take long to write.”

But it’s the variables of all the dependencies and the physics around it which makes it extremely easy to wreck any setup. And also extremely difficult to get the full perspective.


Whereupon James Cheesewright, District Technical leader at Honeywell, made this interesting comment, highlighting on the importance of AI/ML from a BAS perspective.

“It also helps highlight why A.I. has such great potential in helping radically improve the way we commission and optimise the built environment.”

Wherever there’s complexity, there’s room for technology to help make it easier.

Getting things connected also means that security must be a close first thing you think about; not a close second. Addressing these challenges beforehand how things should be connected is vital for everyone. But most of the time, there are already existing infrastructures in the building, and it’s here you might run into challenges, where AI/ML can help. There’s something called “Predictive – self-healing” which basically is what it sounds. If errors occur in the network, the network itself will try to fix these issues, as well as send alarms to the people who need to be notified. AI/ML algorithms constantly detect anomalies and networks can adapt to changes instantly modifying its response depending on what is happening. These robots or procedures can scan the network at all times and detect if something is wrong. And of course, we also see the emergence of hybrid clouds, private clouds, where servers are controlled by companies themselves, instead of having data sent to the other side of the world.

I haven’t seen that many companies are offering in-depth security enterprise solutions for building automation and the OT-side of things (Operational Technology) yet. But this is definitely where companies like NanoHeal and Site1001 will have a huge impact in addressing these security concerns in a sophisticated way. I really want to find more companies like them.

And as discussed earlier, the building automation industry can only do so much, and it is here other companies with AI/ML powered solutions can come in and add value for system integrators, owners, as well as improving security for tenants and end-users of the buildings.

There was an article coming out just now that machine learning predictions are making all the wrong plays and this could lead to a negative value in the end. Because one of the most dangerous things when it comes to ML and AI, is the possibility to corrupt data at the source. AI and ML can’t be super rigid. It’s like you say to someone that they should walk 1000 steps in the x-direction, and only after the 1000 steps, think about where they are going. If they are just 1cm off to start with, they’ll end up in a totally different place than you want, and definitely what they want. But if we have mechanisms for self-correction, improvement, or some kind of human control at set intervals, we build more robustness into models as well where we self adjust and validate after every 10 steps or 1 step for that matter. The amount of data can be bad, but equally great. It depends.

The dangers of getting everything connected could be mitigated through rigorous security, but maybe that the most important form of data is additional knowledge and extensive data sets. If you think that something is wrong in a building, but you are not sure, you (might) be much more comfortable seeing that all of your other 300 buildings have the same problem/or that they don’t have this problem and that it might be an anomaly. However, this leads back to the question if there’s an underlying problem with the model, or if it’s with the data, which might lead to different models and approaches being applied as well because that is the value of Big data. That you have options, and multiple sources of information to choose from to decide what might be the best outcome.

Furthermore, regarding the tagging craze that is going on at the moment, AI and ML can also help to identify products and technologies by their unique DNA.

Sinclair:  Now you lost me again, Nicolas. I know about tagging in the sense of the BACnet 223p standard, and that Project Haystack tagging, is doing wonders for this industry in terms of increased interoperability and faster time to value creation? Yes? So what do you actually mean?

Waern I am not saying that tagging will be useless, obsolete and unnecessary in the future. In fact, it is absolutely vital today that a company has a clear understanding of the relationships between standards and data to enable a solid platform to stand on. It’s important to get started, and for companies to realize that they are in control of the information, processes within their organization. And also, that they should be in control of the data, but allow others to make sense of the data and to create value from it.

But what I am saying is that there are more ways than one to increase time to faster value creation. For instance, let’s say we have a portfolio of 1000 assets of commercial real estate. Hundreds of AHU’s VAV Boxes, meters talking different standards, products from different vendors, and we want to connect all of these in an interoperable way as soon as humanly (?) possible. Even though we see a race to the IP level, raising digital maturity in buildings can be extremely painful. But it’s getting a lot easier every day thanks to technological advances, open standards, service transparency and a more IT-driven approach to traditional BAS thinking.

Let’s start with two buildings and get them 100% connected from an existing system- HVAC-R point of view. We’ve got Modbus meters; we’ve got controllers from different brands, we’ve got BACnet MS/TP, BACnet/Ethernet, we’ve got BACnet/IP, some LON, it’s Siemens, Tridium, Schneider, Trend, Saia, etc. etc.

Let’s also put in some IoT sensors from different manufacturers and standards into the mix, and then we’ll say that we collect all of this in a data lake. No standardization in the building, no edge data strategy, basically no data strategy what so ever. Data lake = is a fancy term for a landfill of data. This is usually where the cleaning happens and without any meta tagging, of who’s it from, how the data is structured, possibly also where in the buildings they are, etc. etc., this goes from data lake to landfill, to toxic waste dump pretty fast. Because API’s might mean trouble if not done correctly.

But here is where AI/ML might come in handy and make things easier if done correctly. I wouldn’t say a picnic, but it has the potential to revolutionize the speed of getting value from buildings on a large scale. This is a collaboration act if I ever saw one, and first, we get capable hands onboard from a Super MSI like Hepta to do a due diligence process on everything that exists and doesn’t exist in the building. Once we have the information what is there, we can easily deploy sensors that talk to each other, will be absorbed by existing BMS systems, and that can scale up and down without ANY manual configuration. Boom, all the IoT gadgets will instantly become virtual BACnet devices, and off to the cloud, we go.

So once the data is in the cloud, we do the arduous job together with Data scientists, system integrators, asset managers, real estate owners, as well as vendor specialists and tag the data manually, or utilizing Haystack to the full extent as it is now, at the application level. We know that this is a SWEGON Gold AHU at the roof, it talks Modbus, it has these register setup, and the process goes on with everything. This might take weeks, months, or even years, depending on how urgent it is. But for argument’s sake, let’s say we get it done in one month to start with. We encapsulate both new and old, IoT and existing HVAC, underneath an umbrella and we get one API to the whole building.

The sensor part is pure magic to how things are done today, but the real use case of AI/ML starts here as well. Because with these two buildings that we started with, we can after a while pinpoint a unique signature coming from devices, in combination with crawling the web for datasheets, scan PDFs of blueprints and designs, and reverse engineer information for future reference.

For the next 300 buildings, we’ll just get things connected through BACnet and BACnet/WS, utilizing security within the new BACnet/SC standard as well as the upcoming BACnet/IT standard, taking data in and out in a secure way. AND the data will be filtered through algorithms and Artificial intelligence measures to automatically populate the BACnet network with correct tagging and structures. Will this be 100% correct to start with? No. But companies will learn a lot in the process.

Will it save an enormous amount of time getting it 85% correct? Abso-BACnet-lutely. And with the third building, this will get easier… the fourth, the fifth, and so on.

In no time, your whole portfolio has the potential to be digitized and digitalized, and the race to IP will be no more. Value creation can begin for real where metadata tagging will play a pivotal role in getting qualitative data to the cloud, and for interoperability to happen much faster. But what I’m saying is there might be other ways as well of creating value, in addition to that of tagging the data.

But, one should not forget. There’s the reverse Pareto rule to think about, and that’s a challenge for the short-sighted companies to get if they will ever get it.

Sinclair:  That was a lot of information to absorb, but according to you, it sounds like BACnet/Mesh might be an absolute game changer for the industry? Only time will tell. I understand that you have more to say about this, but we need to wrap things up. What’s the Pareto rule and what’s the problem? You can’t be that sly to finish with a cliffhanger!

Waern I love the pun that you made there, but okay, I’ll try to wrap this up. The Pareto rule means that 20% of the work you do represents 80% of the total value. It’s the same here, with the difference that it is a total opposite.

Connecting a building to 80% will only get you the 20% value you are looking for, and it’s the last 20% that is the most interesting. And that’s why short-sighted companies won’t get it. Because they will struggle to get to even 50% connected and then they will only see a fraction of the value.

The question you first need to ask is “Let’s investigate how ready we are for AI and ML.” And if you can’t answer it, ask someone that can perform an investigation for you. Companies don’t need to know anything about technology. Zero.

But they need to know where they are today, and where they want to be tomorrow. Start small. Start focused. But do start. Investigate. Because even if you have bountiful data, it might not be qualitative data; which means that you might be looking at a cleaning period of XYZ.

And that’s where we come in, where we collect data from different sources, standardize them underneath the BACnet umbrella creating an interface where others can empty the building for information.

The ones that have seen our approach to BACnet/Mesh are saying it is revolutionary in that aspect because there’s no manual configuration. Everything legacy and new will appear as BACnet devices instantly, ready to be absorbed by AI/ML algorithms and models in an instant. And that is a game changer when it comes to speeding up the time to value creation in creating smarter buildings!

Sinclair:  “The building whisperer – Making buildings talk to people…!” You sure live up to your name! Thanks a lot for the interview. I am sure our readers will like this and the ones that read to the end, how can they reach you? Any final words? (be brief!)

Waern:  Thank you! Well, I just reached a milestone of 10 000 connections on my Linkedin Profile so please reach out that way if you can. Or just send me an email at I’d love to connect, and I do have a love for this industry and the people who want to know more about what we do.

Let’s finish this with five bullets.

  • As I’ve said before, just go out there and get started. But don’t take 1000 steps in the wrong, or even right direction, take the first steps and then involve experts.
  • Wherever there’s complexity beyond human control, AI/ML might be something to look at.
  • It’s all a race to IP-level, and the platform of data must be robust and qualitative enough for others to create future value on. Don’t cut corners for too long, or you’ll regret it.
  • Even though everything technical is here to solve all the problems in the industry, it’s more of a mindset challenge, where organizational interoperability issues stand in the way of success, even more so than technological ones.
  • Breaking the silos between all players in the building lifecycle is the key to unleash the true powers of digital twins, and also that of AI/ML on a grand scale.

That said, even if the true value comes at 100% you’ll learn so much more by doing, than just saying or thinking about it. To the ones questioning IoT and AI/ML saying or anything new, stating,

“But how do you know it will be better?”

I just say, “How do you know it will be worse?”

/ ”The Building Whisperer”
Nicolas Waern 

How can WE create smarter buildings?

The companies that do get it are the system integrators of the world that are at the cutting edge

That’s a pretty good question. How do we get more hands on deck when it comes to re-inventing building automation and create smarter buildings? How do we transform existing buildings into modern, sustainable places that reduce energy efficiency, whilst increasing well-being and productivity? How do we make the most of modern technology in a standardized way that’s better for everyone?

HVAC-R/Building automation know how is the key

It’s fairly easy, to be honest. You just have to understand the past and the present in order to build a sustainable future. There are a handful of companies that get it, and those are not the Siemens, Schneiders, Honeywell’s nor Tridiums of the world. Well, they might get it too, but they are bound to be disrupted in the next decade. Or acquired by Telcos, IT companies or equivalent. We’ll probably see a major merger within the next 18 months.

The companies that do get it are the system integrators of the world that are at the cutting edge. So-called Mass System Integrators or even Super MSI’s. They are the ones with knowledge around HVAC-R, control systems, pneumatic, chillers, boilers, VAV boxes, Air Handling units, and all the mechanical stuff, and everything in between. They’ve seen it all; they know it all. They understand that working with buildings is complex and they are masters of their domain as Scott Cochrane puts it.

Examples are Heptasystems who does phenomenal work with Jason Houck at the helm, as well as global giant Iconics who’s got a 15% stake in the global building automation arena. I had the pleasure of talking to Chris Bromley attending the Smart IoT expo last week, and they are also doing amazing work.

What they’ve understood is that you need to black box all the complex stuff, raise digital maturity in buildings, and get to the IP level. It’s like swimming to the surface when you are in an ocean. It’s difficult to see what’s on land, or even think about it when you are deep down in the murky waters. But once you get to IP level/the surface, you can breathe, listen to the world, and actually see what the open world has to offer.

And, maybe the key point being, they want to work WITH the real estate owners. Of course to create win-win-wins of saving money, increasing asset values and perhaps also make money with new business models. But what is most important that they seem to have no hidden agenda. They are not doing it to exploit, but to actually real estate owners create solutions that will cater to energy savings, predictive maintenance issues, as well as increasing productivity and wellbeing of users of their space. And that’s exactly why I love these companies because that’s what I’m all about — helping others.

I have over 10 000 connections now in my network, and I would say a majority of them has something to do with Smarter Buildings, BACnet IoT, and/or anything digital when it comes to real estate. I constantly try to change my strong opinions because they are loosely held.

What is the road towards the future of building automation?

First of all, BACnet is the worlds leading building automation protocol. It is a common misunderstanding that BACnet only has to do with Building Automation, but BACnet is a device-to-device communication standard that defines Physical-, DataLink-, Network- and Application- layers of the ISO model. Most importantly it defines the Application layer, how devices communicate with each other on a network and the outer world. This is very important as it gives devices from different vendors capability to communicate intelligently with each other right from installation.

We are using it as a base to stand on, and we have recently joint forces with a Mesh Sensoring company called Conectric combining the latest and greatest in terms of wireless technology, and an automation protocol that exists in over 60% of all commercial real estate assets in the world.

What I usually do when getting new connections is that I ask them what they think of our BACnet/Mesh approach. Most of the time, people do take the time and respond, and we are seeing a lot of orders coming in this way. But this time, it was a bit different.

My initial inquiry was this one below:

Maybe this would be interesting for you? Autoconfig, no manual configuration in taking old meters, legacy systems as well as IoT solutions, safely to the cloud and back. Also, autoconfig with Trend logs if need be. I’d love to get your feedback considering your knowledge in the industry. What do you think of this one?

Conectric GoIoT BACnet/Mesh video

And the response was this:

Hello Nicolas.  It is interesting, but I feel that an IoT solution should not be BACnet since this protocol is a little outdated and not very flexible or secure. Traditional building control networks are designed to be stand-alone systems. All the sensing, control and monitoring functions are performed by devices connected to the main control network. This closed architecture does not easily allow for internet-based functions to be supported. The IoT is the complete opposite: it involves connecting all devices to the world’s single, universal network, through which any device or ‘thing’ can communicate with any other connected and discoverable thing. And history suggests that, once a technology platform begins to support internet connectivity, users want more and more of it. I know that many buildings have a BACnet controlled HVAC system, but why add to that?  Ethernet-based IoT platforms are more robust, secure and easier to use. Ethernet connects all the PCs, servers, switches and routers in offices.

The building automation industry might also wish for the control of networking technologies to be more intuitive. To require fewer and simpler controllers and gateways, and to need less intensive training for installers and operators.

Forget about Internet of Things; we are talking Internet of Buildings!

Hi, great person who wanted to respond! Great points, but I have to disagree with you a little bit here =)

I recently posted a question to my network asking if building automation is dead? Will it be? Will BACnet be replaced? By what? By whom? Any brave commenters?

It got over 12000 views and had some great comments.

So, I have actually been asking the same things quite a few times, and this is my summary. Right now there’s a divide between building automation, proptech, IT services (switches etc. etc.), as well as HVAC.

IoT, as you say, will mean direct to cloud for most instances. This works for sensoring technology only for monitoring purposes. However, when you want to create a cognitive building, logic has to reside at the edge, and not only in the cloud.

This article is pretty good regarding local control.

That said all functionalities need to be able to operate without the cloud so to say but still have the potential to run logic on the edge, as well as perform edge analytics.

Okay. So far so good. Existing systems are not connected to the outside world, agreed. This is changing a lot, and most companies go at it with a direct to cloud approach, which is wrong. It won’t work. Monitoring yes, but companies right now want a bidirectional loop so that fault detection will actually lead to direct results.

BACnet is legacy, but it’s not outdated. Far from it actually. BACnet/WS, BACnet/SC and coming BACnet/IT are addendum/standards to make it easier to take data in and out of BACnet networks in a secure way. Does it cover everything? No. But BACnet is a device to device communication protocol. By adding semantic tagging such as Haystack, as well as reverse engineering efforts and logic through AI and ML, we’ll quickly figure out what’s in the network.

Basically, we have a solution which harmonizes the new and the old, creating that long sought after bridge between IoT, Proptech, HVAC and building automation. I’m not sure if you are referring to BACnet MS/TP or perhaps BACnet/Ethernet when you say outdated, but BACnet/IP is coming more and more, and that’s what we have as a base.

I agree that the digital maturity in buildings has to be raised, but it needs to be on a proven, global platform and not the sketchy API integrations that we see all around. 80% of the time still goes to data cleaning efforts and by creating One API to the building with tagged, quality data in a secure way, we’ll see faster time to value creation and harmonization between different APIs, standards, protocols as well as disciplines.

Enabling a platform to base future innovation on

This enables a platform. This enables fewer controllers. This enables a standardized environment that is perfectly fit for smarter buildings.

So, forget about the internet of things in buildings. It’s the internet of buildings that is the key. That’s my belief at least, and that’s what you get with BACnet/Mesh.

Ultra-scalable sensoring technology that talks to a universal gateway that sucks in whatever “new” technology is out there, but also communicating with existing protocols, forming a digital backbone in buildings of the past, present and the future. All in a standardized way which allows traditional BAS specialists to operate within a BACnet environment, System integrators to work remotely, real estate owners to choose if they want to stick with existing technology, or go from an IP level, inviting others to innovate with their building. And IT, IoT, Proptech companies that find it hard to get data out of existing networks will only have ONE single RESTful API to integrate with, in the form of BACnet/Web Services.

So, that’s, in my opinion, the road to freedom of choice for everyone and how WE can create a better world for everyone.


– Is the future of BACnet bigger than its past?

This thought piece is inspired by something I wrote in response to a post on Linkedin that stated:

“RIP BACnet.”

Is the future of BACnet as a device to device communication protocol bigger than its past? Do I think that BACnet will rest in peace? No, I don’t. Considering the increase in the number of devices and data points, and the need for structured data, I think that BACnet will be more active in the future than ever before.

“I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark; BACnet is the light.”

Everywhere I look these days I see some doomsday propaganda. Climate change. Trade wars. Immigration challenges, often because of a lack of integration. People and companies that are power hungry and a rising fear about just about anything that has to do with change. And this sometimes makes me worried.

But then I change perspective. I take a deep breath. And I am thinking about all the amazing developments I see in every industry imaginable. Everything is moving faster than ever, and we see that it is easier today than ever before to go global. I could probably find a person to talk to in every country in the world if I give it a week. The topic? Easy.

How we together can make the world a better place.

And isn’t that where we should start with buildings as well? What are the steps that we need to take in order to better contribute to a better world in a faster way than we’ve done it before? Without the silos, without the lock-in effects and without making it complicated? The guide from Switch Automation definitely helps, but are we focusing enough on the end user experience?

That’s what’s been driving me to dig deeper and deeper and to expand my understanding into the horizontal real estate industry. To really find out how we together can create better buildings. And in this huge puzzle of different actors and technologies, I believe I have found an important piece.

Removing technology from the equation.

As a wise man once wrote, “The people and their communities have staying power, the technology does not.” That’s why the first rule of BACnet is that you shouldn’t talk about BACnet. When I drive a car, I don’t really care about the engine inside. I get to know if it is a fast or slow car by driving it. And I see that’s much more how the world thinks about anything. It’s a fear that a lot of people are feeling these days that no one really gets how technology really works and that’s one of the major reasons why Raspberry Pi was created. No one would really use the flimsy boards for anything but hobby ideas. But the industrial grade computer boards, with some industrial hardware design, provides an open way of creating industrial gateways not tied to any of the big vendors. Calvin has written some great tutorials on the openness of the future, down to the hardware level. There are definite ways of removing technology altogether from the equation and purely focusing on the benefits by collaborating with industry professionals that have an open mind. Some technologies won’t make the cut with legal ramifications en masse, but some will.

I’m glad there are automotive experts out there, responsible for the fine-tuning of the engine. And they seem to be doing it with iPads today, utilizing diagnostics, and the car is telling them what to fix before it gets broken down. And the parts are being ordered beforehand so that it’s there in stock once the car makes it to the garage.

But I, as a driver, don’t care whatsoever. I only care about that it’s working. Some people might hate me for that, as well as the idea that the tenants don’t matter. And of course, that’s a mindset that is changing more and more. I am not saying that we shouldn’t care about technology and how it works, not at all. This piece about Nanotechnology for sensing looks really interesting, and I have already reached out to get our hands on it. But the question might be, where does the largest pull for smarter buildings come from? Where is the speed?

Buildings – an arena for silo-thinking or a global possibility for innovation and inclusion

The must haves of data, as well as better buildings,  are not necessarily the system integrators, nor the real estate owners. It’s getting there, but it’s a slow process. Meanwhile, tenants get headaches, and CO2 levels are spiking off the charts, climate change is here to stay, and mass urbanization means that we need better buildings.

But how to get there? How to create better buildings as fast as possible?

Figure 1

Figure 1. Enabling cities for mass innovation

Well, right now in Sweden we are working with a couple of customers that have a lot of potentials. One has to do with the residential side, 30 000 apartments in the balance. And the other one is a mix of commercial and residential. We are working closely with a technical asset manager who’s got almost free reign when it comes to the digitization of their assets. One of their core assets is in the pipeline of getting sold, and they want to maximise the amount of money they can get. And the way to get there? Get it digitized as much as possible and incorporate “IoT” within a Facility IT approach.

What we are doing is this:

  • A modern take on traditional retrofitting, where the true north is the experiences people have in the building empowered by a software stack where there is no software limit to the amount of sensors/meters in the network
  • Scanning all the areas of the mall and putting the information in a digital twin/BIM modelling and mashing it up with real sensor data from mesh sensors and existing BMS systems
  • Capturing data via plug and play wireless sensors at set intervals, automatically sending data to a gateway-> to the cloud, without manual configuration, preserving local control
  • Connecting elevators, energy meters, existing equipment and pooling it together for others to take advantage of in a standardized way through a standardized Web Service/API
  • Sucking data out of their existing business tools, and combining it with portfolio data to improve and automate tenant communication and fault reporting
  • Reduce software programming, API integrations and field commissioning
  • Enabling an interface where others can empty the building for information and ensure faster time to value creation through standardized data and analytics
  • Planning a hackathon for their building in the fall once data has been standardized and exposed via a secure and standardized interface
  • Creating a building that will harmonize with the energy grid, requiring real-time sensoring to anticipate supply and demand peaks, focusing on future capabilities with existing technology
  • Collaborating with Consultant companies in making sense of the data through advanced analytics and dashboarding, utilizing our automatic sensor to Azure data collection pump
  • Starting up collaborations with partners in making the whole mall an attractive place to visit, incorporating Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for improved shopping experiences

Some of the benefits of the digital twin are that ultra-scalable sensors, like #BACnetMesh, via our partner company Conectric, can be geo-located with extreme precise location. And it means that the integrators, or just electricians, will know exactly where to put the sensors when they install them.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Building Information Modeling – Digital Twin Creation with IoT ingestion utilizing BIMeye

It’s all about pace layering really, figuring out what data is missing from where, and how often you want to get the data. Depending on that, as well as bi directionality for the future, you just go in and choose the sensors of your liking. Everything will be BACnet objects from the building interface anyway, automatically. And both Iceland, where Go-IoT is based in, as well as Sweden, we are very much in favour of equal rights and equal opportunities.

“We believe in equality in that everything that is within the building will be seen as BACnet objects, no matter the vendor, technology, or origin. Everyone is welcome.”

That’s also why we don’t care if sensors talk to different protocols, languages, or frequencies. All are welcome underneath the BACnet umbrella, which harmonizes the past with the present, and allows for a foundation for the future.

The customer might not even know, nor care about making everything into BACnet objects. They just want to get energy costs down while keeping tenant satisfaction up. But for the ones working with existing equipment, saying goodbye to manually configure settings and getting the chance to deploy sensors that become BACnet objects automatically? That means a lot! After all,

“A smart building is not smart unless the occupants know how to utilize its features,” correctly put by James McHale.

The overall goal is to reduce energy costs, get maintenance costs down by collaborating easier with the digital twin, as well as enabling real time-sensor data, making sure all SLAs are upheld by the service companies. Also, connecting all the building-related information to the company’s way of working, minimizing excel dependency.

Our customer is very much in tune with the new value concepts in addition to that of energy savings. We see that they focus on the wellness, productivity and operational efficiency aspect, as well as metrics regarding business efficiency, customer experience and employee recruitment and retention, as previously stated by Joseph Aamidor and Scott Cochrane, as well as myself in an article written last year.

One of the key factors is also that added transparency and automation will reduce admin work for the technical asset manager by as much as 20%. This will free up time to work on the things that really matter, and they can do much more with fewer people. Something that will resonate well with the skills shortage gap we see here as well. The combination of monitoring and control, as well as for analytics with infused AI/ML technology and the shift towards a platform economy, is what it’s all about.

From monitoring to control – to automated buildings on the edge

The only reason this customer knows about BACnet is that I told him. I’ve said it before, and I keep on saying it, but BACnet is nowhere to be seen in Sweden on the application level. It’s there lurking in the background of systems and technologies, but it’s not really used to the full extent, or any extent really. Not in the Nordics as much, and that has been cumbersome, but not anymore. The ones in the business think it’s the same as Modbus, which has been mildly infuriating, to say the least. But lately, I’ve been interacting more and more with asset managers, FM companies and real estate owners. And they absolutely love BACnet.

Do they know what it is? No. Have they even heard of BACnet? Nope. Do they care? Yes and no.

They care because it will enable them to get that building data out in a standardized and harmonized way. One API from the building instead of dozens. To be able to push out sensor technology off the shelf without the worry of either vendor lock-in, high switching costs, frequency, range, whatever the technology, they know that we’ll solve it. A lot of them want to take control of their own buildings, but they feel that they are in the hands of vendors and System integrators alike. Getting data out of buildings has been extremely difficult. Especially because BACnet hasn’t been there as the device to a device communication protocol.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Taking buildings to the cloud or taking the cloud to the buildings?

But now, monitoring is getting a lot easier, and getting data out to cloud platforms like AWS, IBM Watson, Azure, is now done automatically. But they are going to love BACnet even more in the future. Because there will come a time when all buildings are connected, and we take the clouds to the buildings with so-called edge and fog computing where distributed intelligence is the key. It’s happening already. Getting the data out will have had its charm, but now, getting data back in will be of utmost importance where local control is the key.

Anish PK has a great article in last month’s edition, where he goes through the lay of the land at a reasonable level. Some of the things he mentions are listed below:

  • Bi-directional data transmission management
  • Support for multiple data sources & formats
  • Cleansing the data
  • Analyzing & creating insights from multiple data sets
  • Simple & intuitive visualization
  • Security & safety of the data
  • User management
  • Huge data storage
  • Multi API & Protocol availability
  • Use of lesser data consuming mediums

BACnet is extremely important in getting things right, and this will be a renaissance for SI’s everywhere where their knowledge will become highly sought after. Getting data is one thing. Analytics is another. Getting actionable insights is even better. But getting things done in an automated way, that’s what we are aiming for right? It is after all the automated buildings we are after. And that’s what we can and should do, as fast as humanly/machinery possible.

The storm before global mass-innovation involves added security

Based on posts and discussions I’ve had the last couple of months that have generated over 100 000 views, I definitely believe that BACnet will be there as the foundation for commercial buildings for the foreseeable future whether anyone wants to or not. Right now, we are seeing a shift of getting data out in a more secure way and focus on the interface of things, tagging, and getting data more accessible and in better shape. Data is definitely the new gold, and I really like what I read about Haystacks progress and the live reports I got from San Diego as well as the promise of finding more needles than hay.

We’ll see a period of turbulence soon where security firms go in and lock companies in for the sake of security, which will create even more silos than we have right now, for better and for worse. The hunt for KPIs and actually proving ROI might need a revamping of sorts, where the increase in stock price might be a very novel way to get some payback…!

We’ll see traditional players be bought up by tech companies and perhaps a couple of tech companies bought up by traditional players. Most of them will fail, and the synergies will never see the light of day. But some might succeed, and the recipe for success might not be as much in straight up mergers and acquisitions but rather ecosystems thinking and joint ventures.

After all, the new security push from the building automation side (BACnet/SC and the full NIST cybersecurity framework) will have to be complemented by additional security thinking from the outside in perspective. And I definitely agree with Sharada Prahladro when stating, “what someone makes, can someone else break,” also mirrored by Pook-Ping Yao at Optigo on where to start with assessing cybersecurity and another great approach is the evaluation tripod by Toby Considine.

The new norm will be energy efficiency by utilizing machine learning and added data points from wireless, once the period of standardization is over. The next recession has killed off some companies, and we’ll see who’s left standing. But, in the midst of this, some companies have realized that it’s possible to move away from vendor lock-in and create a path creation of their own. They’ve seen that they can get 100 000 people from all over the world to work on their buildings in a so-called Digital Twin, where all data is black-boxed, but anyone can innovate in a standardized way. By the people, for the people.

Figure 4

Figure 4. A flourishing city by the people, for the people

The system integrators that have survived and are open for collaboration and communication will be highly sought after for their expertise. They can optimize portfolios now instead of just buildings.

Energy costs will go down. Maintenance costs will go down. We’ll see a dramatic increase in productivity and well-being, which will result in tremendous value for towns, cities, and countries worldwide. The focus will be on people, and we’ll see ecosystems created on a massive scale. The conservative ones will stay in their silos whilst the progressive ones will reap benefits that the world has never seen.

And in the midst of all this, providing a solid footing for future generations lies BACnet. The once and future king. With a future that I believe is much bigger than its past.

“The building whisperer” – making buildings talk to people

Acquiring 2020 vision through a Digital Twin

In order to reach a 2020 vision, you need an ecosystems approach and a focus on the benefits that you want from it.

Sinclair:  So, Building Whisperer, what is this I hear that you are quitting building automation? Any truth to that? I thought you just got started

Waern:  FAKE NEWS!! Definitely fake news. But I understand where it’s coming from. The truth is that Go-IoT are seeing some great uptake right now with our products and I believe our future is bigger than our past. I will remain in the company but take a more strategic role, focus on Key Accounts, closing deals, using my global network as it was intended, as well as pursuing some other hands-on initiatives.

Sinclair:  You got me worried there… I’m guessing you can tell us more about the immediate future?

Waern:  Well, what do you know Ken, I am going to do just that! There are two main opportunities that I’m looking at.
I might have found a way to possibly augment BACnet and the likes to create a real-time messaging system that works in parallel with existing systems, turning legacy systems into microservices. Basically, making slow networks fast. It takes the cutting edge from Industry 4.0 and possibly makes it applicable to the BAS industry. After all, a building is a building, and factories are pretty interesting too!

And I am also about to go neck deep into a cost-saving investigation for one of our customers, proving that connectivity makes sense from a real estate owner-business standpoint.

Sinclair:  Sounds intriguing! Especially about making slow networks fast. How do you find these opportunities?

Waern:  I’ll try to make it short…;

Opportunity 1 – Cost Reduction Investigation.
At the beginning of June, a customer of ours needed help in understanding how they could digitize their portfolio in the best way possible. But they wanted to see how he could cut costs, and not focusing so much on the tech itself, as the benefits derived from it. The cost reduction investigation, CRI, went hand in hand with the fact that the business still needs to prove a linear connection between investing in tech, and proven ROI for the 3/30/300/(3000) rule.

So that’s partly my focus for the future as well. We’ve had a successful workshop, opening up the books, with the intent of slashing costs by up to 20% across the board. It’s not easy, but someone has to do it!

Opportunity 2 – Real-time messaging platform
A week after I had signed up for the CRI, I was approached by someone in my Linkedin network the second week of June. He had helped one of the largest automotive manufacturers in connecting their factories. What he did have was knowledge on how to make slow systems fast, and he had been headhunted for some truly impressive initiatives. He already had the demand, but not the supply, nor the business acumen of starting something real. And that’s why he did what any sane person would. He asked for help.

Now, 1.5 week later, we have eight advisors on board, two additional people in the core team, a pretty solid go to market strategy, creating a new company this week, with several contracts in the pipeline. Exciting times, to say the least!

Sinclair:  Wow! That sounds exciting! The CRI sounds interesting, can you tell us more about it? What is it that you are doing?

Waern:  Sure! In short, they want to use a digital twin as the single point of information source when managing their buildings/portfolio.

It all started last year when I had a workshop with the customer where I was giving the whole smart building talk, for the first half, and then just a Q&A after lunch. What the customer really wanted, was what I discussed here, which actually is quite similar to what the VW Group is after as well in their new push. They are after productivity improvements and optimization of processes, as well as creating an open industry platform to include other companies.

It went from a technology first discussion to a more benefit driven approach. Which is why, right now, we are not only looking at costs associated with the assets. But also, how people are working with the assets, and how much cost savings we can cut out when working with a digital twin.

Sinclair:  Do you have any examples for our readers?

Waern:  I thought you’d never ask! The below points are only some of the things that came up after the first workshop, and they revolve mainly around their largest asset, which is a huge mall. We are digging into some other metrics as well, where we are looking at their largest operating expenses. But this list is pretty fun, and it’s basically the customer itself that came up with these things. It’s up to me to vet them and find a strategy that works.

Group 1 (rental / marketing / management)

  • To be able to show store concepts in Virtual Reality for potential tenants. And then automatically purchase inventory based on the objects put in the Digital Twin.
  • See visitor counters live in the model and produce better statistics than today at a fraction of the cost (no service agreement)
  • Measure where the visitors are, do they only go through or buy something in a store? Heat mapping, together with a cash register system.
  • Statistics follow-up, to avoid switching between different programs (excel as a carrier between programs)
  • Make apartment inspections on an iPad, being able to point to a wall and see when it was wallpapered last and be able to order actions directly in the app
  • Follow-up for the Floor manager role – order things directly to contractors
  • Make fault reports smarter – Tenants can do via the web/app and get a live update when the work is done. For the landlord, you can order external contractors via the same system and be invoiced automatically with invoices that know which job they belong to (the right marking against the right job) link the measures to the digital twin and its point cloud.
  • Key management should be paired with the access system so that the keys fit and have the right access rights.
  • Fire protection and SBA (Safety Fire related) rounds, these must be done in an app, and the measures can be ordered and acknowledged in the same app. Today only SBA rounding in the app, but action “manually” inserted.
  • The maintenance plan is automatically updated when the plant register is updated after measures have been taken in the property.
  • Create a platform that can incorporate the financial system / business system / rental system
  • A snow depth sensor on the roof and ground.
  • Fire extinguisher sensor

Simply put, better information management – all tasks must match in all places. Then we can launch a complete stand-alone platform taking control of the past and the future.

Group 2 (Finance/reporting/project/sustainability)

  • To be able to do correct and more efficient project follow-up with the information that already exists in the BIM model from the construction stage.
  • Component material insights (frame, facade, etc.) and update of the plant register.
  • Automatic monitoring of operating costs. For example, water, electricity and district heating. Today, this happens in excel with data from the invoice. Meter numbers on the invoice should be able to be linked to the premises that will bear the cost.
  • The invoicing of invoices is done manually today, in the future with E-invoice, these should be able to be automatically posted to the correct cost carrier. The best way would be if we could connect so that the invoice is produced by the contractor in the error reporting system he receives from the order. Then we issue the right information that is then based on the invoice.
  • Announcement to tenants, the vision is to be able to produce notification list by 1 button press, not 20. The surface and the agreements must match, and if a change of the surface or the cost, it must be automatically adjusted to the next notification list created. (agreements against surfaces so that everything is correct will mean that operating costs will be direct instead of a-account.
  • Building materials used in the building can be compiled directly and correctly and run with the construction product assessment directly in the model.
  • Being able to sync the information to other sources, such as the municipality’s food metrics

Group 3 (technology / external management / customer service)

  • Solve key management and lock management much smarter
  • For renovations, example stove related – have all information about warranty and abnormal wear in the model so that you know when to replace it or how to correct it.
  • Follow up sanding and quantity of this. where and when did we last sand?
  • Better and more precise monitoring of operation and lifts. Lifts to save money on lift alarms and operation to save energy.
  • Problems to inform Tenants about work that takes place in or around their leased area, with an App for the customer experience, they can follow who is performing the action and what time etc. easier to plan for the property owner when we plan together with the contractor and the tenant.

Sinclair:  That was… a handful! And you say that these are only some of the issues at hand? Incredible. I suppose by getting more overview, and metrics around these in real time, there’s potential for huge cost savings! Very interesting.

CRI cost reduction initiative as well as an Industry 4.0 stance. This sounds like very exciting times. Anything else for last words?

Waern:  Well, it’s all about getting to that 2020 vision and doing it fast. I predict that there will be a massive demand for smart buildings very soon and the ones that plan, or most importantly, act, will get a tremendous return of investment.

It’s not so much about technology as it is about harvesting data and helping customers make sense of it, and capitalize on it. In order to reach a 2020 vision, you need an ecosystems approach and a focus on the benefits that you want from it. It’s a collaborating act if I ever saw one. Getting inspiration from other industries is a must, and I can see that the industrial realm is moving much faster than the building automation market. Taking the cutting edge from that realm, and moving it into BAS side of things will leapfrog most initiatives that are out there today.

The Digital Twin will be more in focus in the next decade than ever before; I see that more clearly now than ever. And for final words, don’t just talk about it, go out there and do something!

And as always, to everyone reading this, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if there’s anything you need.

Thanks, Ken, you are the best!

/The building Whisperer
Nicolas Waern

“The BB-cycle”

Building Buzz Breakdown

Building Buzz – Innovation all around

Metadata tagging, Cloud computing, Digital Twins, IoT, wireless, smart buildings, 5G, augmented reality, virtual reality, predictive maintenance and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s a jungle out there, which is why I tried to jot down some of the things I’ve seen lately and put them in the Building Buzz-cycle depicted below. The perspective is that from a more traditional building automation perspective, and that’s why it might differ to other frameworks. However, everything in the BB-Cycle is doable today, quite easily if you know what you are doing. But it will take time to reach mainstream adoption, if ever, and there’s no time like the present.

Figure 1

Figure 1. The Building Buzz Cycle – “The BB-Cycle”

BB-cycle Discussion

If you want more detail, have comments, critique, please reach out to me directly. I’d love to get some feedback on what I missed out on, what was the most interesting part etc.

Starting from right to left, in terms of energy efficiency and getting the most of existing systems, metadata tagging such as Haystack, and Brick Schema are here to stay. Skyspark, Coppertree, Finstack, and these kinds of analytics platforms, tools and application stacks are utilizing Haystack, Brick schema to increase semantic interoperability today, and it makes everything so much easier. In fact, it is a downright necessity for increased interoperability and speed to value creation. If it’s not a new way of working already, it will be soon.

The Trillion Dollar opportunity is still here for the taking, and it’s probably even more important now due to climate change, electrification, rise in complicated systems, data-overflow, cloud computing and useful implementations leading to predictive maintenance. But I also agree with Ken Sinclair (I always do) in asking if, or maybe how, all these platforms can co-exist without crashing? My answer to that lies in the real-time streaming platform below.

The need for present and future data strategy and that the future revolves around a security mindset is being discussed in this illuminating article by Scott Cochrane. Tridium is also asking the right questions when it comes to data advantage. Buildings aren’t that connected yet, but they will be. And I agree that it will be a hacker delight if we can’t do this in a smart and secure way.

Judging by the BB-cycle, we see that the race to IP (Basically enabling connected buildings for real at an IP-level) will hit mainstream adoption in 2-5 years’ time, if not earlier. During that process, it’s key to have a data strategy and an understanding of cybersecurity risks and how to coordinate responses when something happens, because it will.

Seeing the 3/30/300 rule and focusing more on the productivity and well-being side, I think there’s a lot of talk in some places, but no real adoption in the traditional side of the business. There’s still a big divide between HVAC-R, BAS, BMS, and the more “prophecy”-side, but companies are definitely doing well in their respective fields. Smart workplaces enabled by companies like Yanzi and Envoy that are focusing on wellbeing and productivity, albeit from different perspectives. Cloud computing, Real-time streaming platforms, and so on. There are a lot of things happening in this industry, and perhaps even more, outside it.

The more buzz-worthy Blockchain, AR, VR, and even 5G I can definitely hear a lot of things, but there aren’t that many things happening yet, especially not in this segment. Regarding IoT (internet of things) in the sense that it is directly connected to the cloud, I don’t think it will ever take off within the building space. It might, but I believe more on the Internet of Buildings where local control is the norm and wireless sensors instead of IoT in the traditional sense.

Harmonizing sensor data with BMS data and creating a bi-directional data pump to and from buildings to the cloud utilizing BACnet/WS and BACnet/SC is real today. This means that merging “new” sensor data, with existing BMS data, sending everything automatically to a dashboard for bi-directional control is doable, and this is what I mean with a Wireless first initiative. However, even though most of the things in the BB-cycle can be implemented today, there are a lot of barriers from getting to new ways of working.

Everything is here, and the convergence of all of the technologies can be implemented as others also agree. But it will take a lot of time. Mostly because of people and not so much from technology. Getting younger people into the industry, also looking elsewhere, and making it more diverse are some valid points from the legend Pook Ping Yao. And if we are to create better spaces, niche companies, as well as traditional ones, should know about the importance of selling the way buyers buy, which is a great article by Kevin McCaughey. And of course, also find time to have some balance in your life is a must. After all, we want a life that is perfectly balanced, don’t we?

My belief is that people and companies are still trying to take buildings to the cloud, and that they are stuck implementing wireless, and that smart portfolios are of the future. However, after reading Luke Dalskes spectacular article, about what they are doing at the edge, and also knowing what Marc Petock and Lynxspring are doing, I might change the Edge analytics timeline to within the next 2 years. Everything is possible, and there are companies like theirs doing amazing things. But to say it’s the way of working for most people in the industry? Doubtful.

What about integrations with existing systems in an easy way? It seems that companies tend to get stuck here a lot. Either you get amazing dashboards with some possible AI/ML algorithms on the side, telling you about workplace productivity and whatnot. But then, there’s no seamless integration to existing systems, and we end up with the death of a thousand cut approach.

Or you go the traditional route and try to get data out of existing networks, but then you are in the hands of system integrators, vendor lock-ins, and might get stuck between a vendor and a hard place. I am referencing Tridium and Niagara below, and it’s a bit scary reading the article and constantly being battered about the “You have to stay upgraded”- line over and over again. Dave Lapsley is also referring to this fact in his article, also arguing about the need for openness in the industry.

What actually happens when you try to create a smarter building. And you have taken data in from existing networks, you have bought into the “Data is the new gold” -mindset and maybe harmonized wireless/BMS data as BACnet objects, applied some meta-tagging. Now comes the sense-making part.

Where to start with all of these technologies in the BB-cycle?

I believe that the truly innovative stuff out there doesn’t come from the big dragons. But I agree with Ken Smyers 100% in that all of the technology necessary to make a building smart is here, and the ones attending IBCON probably saw the critical mass of technologies present. But will the largest innovation come from the realm of building automation at all? More on that later.

Smart cities as a concept will most likely happen before smart portfolios since the old way of working with a small percentage of the whole portfolio will take time to change. So, what’s the most interesting thing? Is there one? I believe there is. More below.

Streaming platform tech is the highlight of the BB-cycle

One of the most interesting aspects I find is that of real-time streaming platforms.

The short version is that it is a way to make slow systems to move fast. It’s done by putting connectors to existing data sources and storing all data in a log and connecting it to a streaming platform as depicted below. The article in question argued 1 year ago is event-streaming was the next big thing for Banking. Since then, event streaming is being adopted by most major banks in some way, shape or form, and the technology is applicable to all companies in all industries. 

Figure 2

Figure 2. Is event-streaming the next big thing for Building Automation?

Most of the new applications built for all fortune 100 companies revolve around these technologies since it eliminates past complexity in a rapid, scalable way.

As I wrote in my last article about helping a customer with a digital twin platform, I believe in taking cutting edge-technologies from other industries and seeing if they can fit into the BAS/BMS side of things. And I really think this does.

There’s a need right now to get all different data streams together, and we need to do it faster than ever in the realm of building automation. We need to be able to write applications that form solutions that are robust, useful and attractive without vendor lock-in and high switching costs.

Companies that choose this way of working enjoy tremendous benefits:

  • Bring together data from all sources they know about and also the ones they don’t
  • Analyze processes better and become more productive.
  • The worldwide exchange of data across companies, sites, factories and locations
  • Smart real-time control simultaneously all over the world
  • Cost savings and reduce bottlenecks
  • Improve up-time for key assets and processes
  • Become faster, more transparent and safer.
  • Control the narrative in terms of global security and control, across suppliers and partners
  • Creating a steadily growing global ecosystem based on a universal event pipeline
  • Provide new technologies and innovations rapidly across various locations
  • Integrate companies from the entire value stream and to build up a network of partners  with information that will bring benefits to all concerned
  • Stay ahead of the competition

This right here is my new favourite area together with that of digital twins, and a lot of these benefits are the ones that Volkswagen Group are aiming for when starting to connect 122 manufacturing plants across their portfolio. They seem to begin with the manufacturing floor, but there’s a tremendous value in the building automation perspective as well, also creating an eco-system for the future, allowing suppliers and others to innovate with their platforms and the ability to monetize on data.

Metadata tagging can easily be deployed on the fly, instead of pooling it into a toxic data dump and that’s why this kind of Companies specializing in streaming technologies will be the bridge between the past and the future. They will enable any company in the world to become digital leaders in their respective field.

Era of disruption – Easier than ever to get ahead of the game

The reasons why I find data streaming and digital twins fascinating is because it can be done today, and it can mirror in real-time all events that are occurring, anywhere. And most importantly, it will predict what will happen in the future. The reason why this might be so disruptive for traditional industries is that existing companies use existing systems to get data out. There’s a challenge here when going at it in scale, where there are enormous data loads. It’s like trying to drive a Ferrari on a road that’s made for horse and carriage. Yes, it goes very fast. Into a ditch.

Utilizing modern technology and taking data out of existing systems is ground-breaking. And the thing is, everything is possible. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Smart cities, cognitive buildings, VR, AR, you name it. But it seems that no one really knows where to begin and what should be the focus and most importantly, WHY they should do it, and HOW they can make money out of it.

Because of my amazing network, I now have the ability to merge all these things together, and I clearly see what companies should do first, what comes second and what to think about for the future. That’s why I created this Building Buzz-cycle to show that anything and everything is possible, today. The question shouldn’t be who’s going to let you. The question should be, who’s going to stop you?

Well, in this industry, probably 95% of the people around you. But can they?

If you or someone you know want to get 2 years ahead of the game, or even 5 or 10 years ahead before technologies reach mainstream adoption, let me know. I’ve got a vast network with experts in all these fields. I’d be happy to do matchmaking and increase faster time to value creation. My main mission in life is to help create a better world for everyone if possible.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything on your mind, and instead of just talking about stuff, just go out there and do it!

All the best,
Nicolas Waern
The Building Whisperer

A Recipe to Create Smarter Buildings?

Did I just come up with the recipe to create Smart Buildings?

A recipe to create smarter buildings?
Did I just come up with the recipe to create Smart Buildings?

Creating smart buildings from existing buildings and letting others innovate with them in a secure, standardized and easy way. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Step one. Scan the asset, (building, ship, car, etc.) in order to create the shell of the 3D copy to hang up the objects in a contextual database to understand relations. Markup where the sensors go in the digital twin, install them in the asset.

Turn the sensors on, and you’ll have neurons which can deliver information through neural pathways, straight into the digital twin database. The brain can exist both in the building and outside (edge and cloud).

Step two is all about connecting existing equipment, with a bolt-on, autodeployable connector library, just sticking them in the ground like planting seeds, and that will populate the digital twin even more with data from existing equipment in millions of messages per second. Schema, tagging, can be added on the fly.

This is part of the IoT/IoB first strategy because existing data is hard to get out from existing equipment for various reasons. Not necessarily technical.

This approach ensures smart city inclusiveness and the definition of sustainable buildings.

What do you think?


This was originally posted on Linkedin in my personal feed on the 25th of August. Since then, it has generated about 5000 views, 42 interactions (likes, etc.) and over 60 comments and counting.

Fantastic discussions and I will try to interpret the findings from the comment section in this article. And if you have some minutes over, I think it’s well worth it to go in and see some of the comments that I got.

Please, weigh in what your interpretations are and help me become better! But here goes –

Creating smart buildings from existing buildings and letting others innovate with them in a secure, standardized and easy way. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

The reason why I want to come up with a smart building recipe for existing buildings is fairly simple. I think most of us have heard about the “45% of the worlds total energy consumption” – phrase and that we spend 90% of our time indoors, where lighting, IAQ, noise, humidity, indoor climate in general and tenant well-being is super important. Yes, all of this might happen if we build smarter, and it’s much easier to get money for initiatives in the construction phase. But I don’t care that much since I’m all about working in the present. I want to change all the buildings in the world NOW.

And that this is done with the help from others, in a secure, standardized and easy way. Collaboration, open standards, the New Deal for Buildings, focusing on tenant experience and users as the north star, all this stuff. Isn’t that what it’s all about? I think so.

Step one. Scan the asset, (building, ship, car, etc.) in order to create the shell of the 3D copy to hang up the objects in a contextual database to understand relations. Markup where the sensors go in the digital twin, install them in the asset.

This was probably the most controversial one of them all. The critique was mainly around two things.

  1. I  missed out on the business case, creating value for whom?
  2. And also the fact that starting with the Digital Twin is far too complex and will take an enormous amount of time.

Number 1.

I had a great exchange here with Rune Winther who’s also written an amazing thought piece regarding 3 types of characteristics and 6 types of components for smart building descriptions. I think it will be published in some shape or form here at as well.

Rune questioned if the first step would be to deploy technology if you don’t have an idea what to use it for. And that sensor put in one place, might not serve a business case of the tenants. But they might be in the right place for the cleaning department, or for someone else. So basically, what and for whom are we creating value for?

I agree with this a lot. I’ve been in dozens of workshops and Proof of concepts and also played the waiting game for technology, money, business case, others should do it first, etc. etc. But I also think that seeing is believing. One of the major things when it comes to technological initiatives (IT-projects in general) is that it’s difficult to get management buy-in. Where is the ROI’s? WHERE’s the pre-study? And this is tricky and an article on its own.

My conclusion to this conundrum was to say that it depends. And I would recommend a combined approach to include technology in the workshops, dealing with live data from sensors, and why not just scan a portion of a building to have something to show the participants of what can be done. If data is coming through and someone from the tenant stakeholder corner says “But this doesn’t show me how warm it is by my desk” – you’ve gained an insight based on data, not speculation. And if someone says, “this is what I need exactly,” then you know that you also are on to something. And everyone will see that it’s so damn easy today to get started with something that doesn’t involve  digging into existing systems.

Number 2

This one is also very interesting. If you haven’t had the time or haven’t seen it, I was just recently in a podcast discussing some of my thoughts regarding Digital Twins and my overall perspective on all things smart. You can find it here in my Linkedin feed and also here at the Spaces and Places podcast from Site1001.

Starting from the end, let’s say 10 years from now, I hope that most commercial real estate portfolios will be digital twin enabled. Judging from the go-to self-written guide of the BB-Cycle I think that it will take more than that, but I do think it will be the end-game so why not start with it right now. What I mean with the scan is just to go in, 3D scan the floor, the entire building, the room, and get the point cloud together. That’s fairly cheap and will only take a couple of hours if you keep it defined.

This is of course but a fraction of the true digital twin, where everything is made into 3D objects, stacked with metadata, and acting as the universal database for everything regarding the building. It’s not that, by far. But getting a 3D copy of the physical space will allow others to understand the lay of the land much easier.

I just want all of this data to be contextualized in a 3D shell so that everyone can relate to and understand where sensors are from a “normal” perspective, instead of having to understand it from a technical perspective. 

Figure 1

Figure 1. Image of traditional dashboarding without digital twin thinking

Figure 2

Figure 2. Overlay of existing data in a digital twin

These two pictures that I got from Digital Twin expert Ken Olling at Sekai are showing the exact same things. I find it much easier to understand picture number two, and it also has added benefits of troubleshooting much faster, probably also education, with AR/VR overlays, and to find root causes in a much simpler way. Of course, all of this is built upon a massive database in the future. But, to start with, I just want to scan the asset and get the stuff in there because I think it will lead to easier management buy-in.

A digital twin is much more than just these pictures, and it requires an investment that might not have an immediate ROI equation today. But it will.

Seeing is believing.

Turn the sensors on, and you’ll have neurons which can deliver information through neural pathways, straight into the digital twin database. The brain can exist both in the building and outside (edge and cloud).

Inviting a sensor company they could go in, mark up the places where the sensors should go, ship them on-site, and someone could just go and drop them out and have them communicate with the local control gateway and get data streaming to a visualization platform immediately.

Dave Lapsley from the UK company Econowise Group put it nicely in one of his comments to another Linkedin post, from Phillip Kopp at Conectric discussing the need for 2100x amount of data than what is usually occurring today.

I paraphrase a bit, but it’s a great comment:

“Just walk into a building with a box of sensors, fit them where required. Switch on a tablet, and it becomes an edge server for BACnet, Modbus, Mbus and Sensors, Drag and drop to create visually stunning Dashboards complete with real-time query engine, edge fault detection and custom reporting”

Quite easy to be done today and with the benefits of Open standards and defined API’s you don’t really have to be locked into a vendor unless you really want to. There are pros and cons with everything where open doesn’t necessarily mean better or insecure. But proprietary doesn’t necessarily mean worse, or secure. It always depends.

Step two is all about connecting existing equipment, with a bolt-on, auto deployable connector library, just sticking them in the ground like planting seeds, and that will populate the digital twin even more with data from existing equipment in millions of messages per second. Schema, tagging, can be added on the fly.

This was met with some skepticism, and that I probably missed a step or two in between. And I agree to some extent. The challenge that I see it is to connect to the existing and make the new and the old work in harmony.

Am I talking about technology? Yes.

Am I also talking about the new and the old as in OT and IT (and IoT)? Yes.

And am I also talking about the old(er) generation working alongside the Young(er) generation? Yes.

And am I being overly annoying right now? Yes.

But this is the thing. How can we enable these worlds to come together, right now, and utilize the best of all worlds in order to move faster to value creation in a collaborative way? To play to each other’s strengths and work with eco-systems thinking and joint ventures? But how?

I wrote all about it in my last article, discussing the need for streaming platforms, based on connectors to all of the existing data sources. It’s the last segment before the conclusion. Basically, this allows anyone to connect to proprietary data sources and databases, get the data out in an event streaming way. You can sit behind Scada systems, OPC UA, Modbus etc etc and get the data out in a way that meets the most rigorous IT-standards today. Linkedin, Netflix, Financial institutions, Healthcare, everything today is being built with Kafka Connectors and event streaming in mind. So why should building automation be any different?

This is part of the IoT/IoB first strategy because existing data is hard to get out from existing equipment for various reasons. Not necessarily technical. This approach ensures smart city inclusiveness and the definition of sustainable buildings.

The IoT (direct to the cloud) is something that I don’t believe much in. I do believe in wireless sensors and internet of buildings. And also in the sense that Internet of things will be there, in that everything will be connected. But not directly to the internet. Local control, security in mind, that’s where it should be.

I’ve found it hard to get data out from existing assets due to people, vendor lock-In and closed mindsets etc. etc. Maybe I just have been working with the wrong people, who knows. But I want to have the control. Or at least, be in a position to have alternatives and to allow customers to own their own data without having to beg, pay, ask, search for it or a combination.

I believe in the one API approach in that it is the real estate owners who should be in control and have the keys to their buildings. Not only the physical keys but also the digital keys when it comes to allowing and enabling access to the digital twin. Security, allow who goes in and out of the digital twin and who can access the BMS systems. This is all part of sustainable buildings.

Because as I’ve written before, a building and its solutions have to be robust, useful and attractive for its users at all times. And when the scope grows to people and companies from the IT realm, and possibly stakeholders that haven’t before been included in the BAS/BMS conversations. Products need to shift accordingly and be equally robust, useful and attractive for new stakeholder.

Robust in this sense, might mean modular to pass the test of time, and to ensure smart city inclusiveness in that products, and buildings, are part of a bigger whole. It’s about technical interoperability, semantic interoperability, organizational interoperability, legal interoperability and people, processes, culture, hierarchy and IT/OT/IoT somewhere in the middle.

It’s indeed a paradigm shift we see here. I recently listened to the control trends podcast, episode 315, featuring Jim Young from Realcomm conference group. If you haven’t listened to it/watched it, do it now — fantastic insights into the past, the present and the future.

Is it easy to do all of this on your own? No. Impossible. Is it easier if you go at it together with others? Most likely. It’s a joint effort from a lot of different disciplines, and it will be an era of ferment for many in the years to come!

Summary and Conclusion

Well, what can I say?  Go agile, work in sprints, collaborate, show value quick and fail fast. It’s better to do something and be wrong than just to sit around waiting for the right technology or stages in a vetting process. It should be more about PEOPLE and to understand that technology is just technology.

It’s so easy to get stuff going today, and there’s so much value to be created that it’s mind-boggling. I love this industry, the people in it, and I’m looking forward to the coming years. Just go out there and do it and start listening to what the buildings are telling you. And if you don’t know how just let me know and I’ll try to help out!


/The Building Whisperer –
Nicolas Waern

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