#5 Future Proof Construction

In this episode of the Beyond Buildings Podcast, we talk to Karel Bietje from the construction company Taimana Modular in New Zealand. And with us is also the connectivity Guru, Anthony Veri Jr.

This is an interesting episode that took place just before COVID19 started for real, and New Zealand shut down. A lot has happened since but it offers an insight into how a real change-maker thinks and operates in the construction industry.

  • Karel talks about an outdated industry with giants that monopolize the market.
  • On why projects run late and over budget
  • Change requests during the operating phase
  • And the overall need to modernize everything and putting sustainability first.

We talk about the need for lifecycle doing, not just thinking, doing more with less, and how to think about buildings as software-enabled entities.

What do you think? Will construction also be run by software companies that happen to do construction?

Listen in and hear what the world was like Pre-COVID and what a true future-doer thinks about the industry!

Go above and beyond, with the Beyond Buildings Podcast!

Please leave a comment, share your thoughts, and give us some input on how we can improve for the future! Because it’s the data we don’t have, that will change our lives!

Future Proof Construction is also out at Anchor and all places where Podcasts live! And finally a big thank you to Anthony!

#Bonus – Bridging the Skill Shortage Gap


Bridging the Skill shortage gap requires an actual medium of interaction. – Photo by Modestas Urbonas on Unsplash

Bonus episode – Background

This week started with an interview about the topic of AI and Smart Buildings.

  • Is the market ready for AI initiatives?
  • What parts of the market are ready?
  • Going back to basics, – what is Smart Building?
  • What is required for it to be ready?
  • What are the jobs to be done?

And much more. I have the answers to these questions, and more, if interested.

But, what interested me the most was the Skill-Shortage Gap. What is it? Can it be solved? And if so, how?

Have a listen to the mini-episode and please comment if it’s something that you agree with, have questions about, or in any other way want to know more about!

The full article will be coming out on the 30th of July!

#4 A Veri Innovative World

In this episode of the beyond buildings podcast we talk to the legendary Smart City consultant, Anthony Veri Jr. 

THIS is an episode you REALLY want to listen to. Anthony has an amazing mind, and his advice and insights are truly phenomenal. How do we actually HELP people achieve what they need to achieve, and meet them where they are?

We discuss intelligent camera infrastructures, partly referring to the previous episode where we discussed how dumb infrastructure can be turned smart. And we talk about business models, the importance of not talking about technology, asking questions, entrepreneurship, and what foundations are safe to stand on. 

  • Do companies have the budgets necessary for innovation?
  • What benefits are solutions creating? For whom?
  • What happens with the phones that aren’t 5G ready today in the future? 
  • Do companies have the processes, the people, the hierarchy, the culture, and the systems necessary to capitalize on new technology?
  • Or will it just be an innovation theatre?

Anthony talks about the need for democratizing data manipulation and innovation and how to succeed in a turbulent environment. Anthony also poses a question that will make everyone rethink how they do business. 

This is truly a phenomenal episode about life and business with an amazing person. Listen in and find out why Nicolas loves Anthony so much right now!

Go above and beyond, with the Beyond Buildings Podcast!

Please leave a comment, share your thoughts, and give us some input on how we can improve for the future! Because it’s the data we don’t have, that will change our lives!


A Veri Innovative World is also out at Anchor and all places where Podcasts live! And finally a big thank you to Anthony!


#3 Making Dumb Cities Smart – Through an opportunistic edge camera platform- NATIX IO

In this episode of the Beyond Buildings Podcast, we talk to Dr. Alireza Ghods and Omid Mogharian From Natix.io And with us is also Anthony Veri Jr, who adds his expertise in the Smart City space.

Want to make decisions in live-time, or even predict what the city will do before it happens? Then the NATIX platform is something that will interest you!

We talk about their NATIX on the edge platform, and how it can make dumb cameras smart, WITHOUT replacing existing infrastructure.

  • Natix.io is up to 85 percent cheaper than traditional approaches.
  • And up to 8 times faster.

And due to the fact it’s on the edge (doesn’t send all data to the cloud) and infused with AI/ML capabilities, data protection and security are more future proof than ever before. Instead of silos, cities can create a bowl of data where the police department, fire department, and any other stakeholder can create apps based on a dataset that is shared in the city. This leads to a democratization of smart city innovation.

  • How can an enabling view of technology speed up the creation of Smart Cities?
  • How can cutting edge technology help in reaching the global goals?

Listen in to a phenomenal episode about the past, present, and future of smarter cities and a more intelligent world.

Please leave a comment, share your thoughts, and give us some input on how we can improve for the future! Because it’s the data we don’t have, that will change our lives!

Making dumb cities smart is also out at Anchor and all places where Podcasts live! And finally a big thank you to Dr. Alireza, Omid and Anthony


#1 Sunday Spotlight – Dealing with Inevitability, inspired by Chess Legend Garry Kasparov

Forget about AI. Technology should be a tool that makes life simpler. This is an article discussing what smart is, and some thoughts on how to deal with the elements of inevitability.

“AI is not a magic wand; it is not Terminator; it does not mean dystopia; it is just a tool. Treat it as a tool designed to make lives simpler.”

Kasparov and AI

Garry Kimovich Kasparov

Garry Kasparov is a Russianchessgrandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, whom many consider being the greatest chess player of all time.[3] From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months and 255 months overall for his career. His peak rating of 2851,[4] achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being surpassed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive professional tournament victories (15) and Chess Oscars (11). “ – Wikipedia

Defining Smart

“…few people would say a smartphone is intelligent. Just as being good at chess does not define intelligence, it would appear being smart doesn’t either, especially in the context of phones.” – Garry Kasparov, Kasparov and AI (same article as the first quote).

Is that what we all should do with Smart Buildings? Just think about the underlying infrastructure and the ability for people to make it smart? Maybe it’s less about technology and more about the people who interact with buildings today? (of course it is).

How well can the building contribute to the needs of people that interact with the building today, and how well is it prepared to do make continuous adjustments, keeping up with the times, during its entire life-cycle?

Memoori thought piece from 2019 describes the 7 use cases for Smart Buildings that seem to focus on the building infrastructural aspects and how it can cater to the HVAC/FM needs. Which is quite standard.

The 8 first questions of 100+ questions that come to mind:

  1. Is there one API for the entire building encapsulating the seven sub-categories with meaningful data, allowing and enabling stakeholders to get access to what they need to get access to?
  2. Do all of the seven categories work with standardized APIs?
  3. Are the seven categories being treated as categories by the real estate owners?
  4. How close/far away is this from actual reality in how buildings are managed today, and what are the steps that need to be taken in order to realize this structured vision?
  5. The skill-sets that are needed to “own” these categories from a real estate point of view, where are they today? From Vendors, integrators, do the property asset management companies have them in-house?
  6. How integrated are these categories in real life and how well do the owners or respective categories communicate with other areas in the same/other categories, and how well do the systems talk to each other?
  7. Which one of these areas should be prioritized, by whom, and how does it relate to the overall success for the company and/or companies providing value for and from the building?
  8. How different is the priority list of assessing digital maturity in the above areas for different types of asset classes and does a successful integration between said areas correspond to realizing the full potential of buildings?

What is the full potential of Buildings? Humans?

Realizing the full potential of buildings… What does that mean? Who would pay for it? Who would benefit from it? Let’s say all of the above categories do talk to each other and there exists One API to the building.

Have we then realized the full potential of buildings? Or have we realized the platform created in buildings for people to define what the full potential might be? For them? Should machines work for us, and let us be more human?

“The trouble with computers is that they only provide answers; it is up to humans to set the questions…We must stop using phrases such as artificial intelligence, “instead say augmented intelligence,” – Garry Kasparov

The Stone Age didn’t end because of a lack of stones. It ended because some other tools could do a better job of providing value for an already existing outcome. Basically doing more, with something else, not necessarily less. And come to think of it, probably not faster, or necessarily better, but the total cost of ownership as lower, and new technology meant an improved value over the whole life-cycle.

We need to move over to new tools in order to take the next step and realize that the Human age (as a species) is yet to come. We’ve had civilizations in the past that have prospered in its individual countries, but it’s the clash of civilizations that has led to wars, famine, colonialism, e-inventing the wheel, and just a loss of value between different cultures. As Kasparov also states, we should see ourselves like “shepherds for machines” and in another article making this amazing statement;

only 4 percent of jobs in the US require human creativity.” That means 96 percent of jobs, I call them zombie jobs. They’re dead, they just don’t know it. source

Creative Destruction is on the rise and all of these Zombie jobs will be destroyed at some point. So what do we need to do? For startes, we need to think about what it means to be human. The industrial revolution didn’t only make machines better, they also made us into machines. Those machines should be replaced by actual machines, and allow and enable us to become more human. Some countries that don’t have that societal infrastructure in place for actual humans, will be having an extremely hard time in the next decade. Countries that haven’t got a culture of thinking for themselves, stuck in hierarchical ways of working, might also have a hard time.

This 15-minute video explains it fairly well. HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY

And it goes back to the element of inevitability. The majority of jobs will be destroyed, before new jobs and new roles are created. Everything that can be automated, will be automated. What sets people apart from machines today and tomorrow? Today it’s the understanding of what challenges people have had from a humanistic perspective observing a system or a problem from a very limited perspective.

Just programming systems with ideas from a human’s limited point of view is stupid. But, having a human ask a building that has all of the areas above integrated into a system that can communicate with each other in a standardized way, is not stupid.

“Innovation doesn’t start with the future. It starts with the now and continues into the future”

Having APP-store capabilities on top of buildings, fed with data from buildings, is not stupid. That’s how the full potential of buildings will be realized in the short-medium term, up until buildings will provide the value necessary by themselves operating as a key-player role in a Smart City context.

Because having systems talk to each other, find out the best options possible based on an outcome that has been set by people? Well, that can be stupid, but it’s on the way to becoming better. An example is energy-optimizing plays that have a limited amount of information available, resulting in 25% energy decrease for the building, but an indoor climate that is not fantastic, lower tenant satisfaction, less productivity and a loss of money for owners, companies in the facility, and for the country as a whole because people get sick more often, have more headaches and are more prone to diseases.

This is being done a lot right now. Cloud-based energy optimizing algorithms that don’t take the entire building into account where people are left out of the mix. Do we see a shift now Post-COVID? Absolutely. Will there… IS THERE a battle between energy optimization initiatives and the connected society at large where we use more stuff that requires electricity? YES. Is the entire grid ready for the growing demand products needing electricity? NO.

Will this be another section in this article? NO.

Final Words

The future will be different from what it is today.

  • How well are you keeping up with the times?
  • Are you, your organization leading the charge in your industry?
  • Are you falling behind?
  • Do you even know what is happening in other industries?
    Do you want to know?
  • Do your bosses want to know?
  • Do you have an enabling view of technology today?

Understanding where you are today, where you want to be tomorrow, and plotting out a path to get there is the first step. Will those things create an organization consisting of people, processes, systems, hierarchy, and a culture that enables you to STAY relevant in the decades to come? It might.

But it’s a serious effort comprising of collaboration, grit, perseverance, luck, and it’s not something that can be done alone. Existing companies are built to die. They don’t have to, but most of them will.

And that is why this blog and the VVIP community exists. To help those that WANT change be able to deliver change in the bestest, fastest, and mostest sustainable way possible. There are no silver bullets here. But if you want to change, and want to find people in the same industry, other industries that also want to be the change they see is necessary, this is the place for you. Alone, we can’t do much. Together, we can do everything.


Let me know what you thought and if you got any questions, ideas, or general feedback, please comment! And reach out to Nicolas Waern directly if you have any immediate questions. If he can’t help you directly, he can find someone that can within 24 hours. Guaranteed.

#1 Tommy Hagenes – “Falling in Love with Smarter Buildings”- at The Beyond Buildings Podcast

In this episode of the Beyond Buildings Podcast, we talk to Tommy Hagenes – who’s helping buildings to be smarter via Proptech Bergen in Norway, his Consultant Company Energy Control AS, and also as a business developer for Airthings, an indoor climate sensoring company out of Norway.

It’s an inspiring journey from the BMS side and building controls, to his background in facility management, figuring out what would be needed to create better buildings. We’ll hear how he finds out if the BMS the heart of the building, is it the first thing people see and do people fall in love with the BMS every morning?

We’ll hear about how Tommy wants to disrupt himself so that he can help his companies and customers better.

You’ll hear about what a true leader thinks about the largest gap in the smart buildings market and listen to what Tommy thinks is happening in the smart building space, and what the whole industry needs to do! An overall great episode with a thought leader in this space!

Please leave a comment, share your thoughts, and give us some input on how we can improve for the future! Because it’s the data we don’t have, that will change our lives!

Falling in Love with Smarter Buildings is also out at Anchor and all places where Podcasts live! And finally a big thank you to Tommy Hagenes and to the Beyond Buildings podcast sponsor:
Platform of Trust whos helping companies turn data into actionable insights!


  • Tommy HagenesBridging the gap between Property and Technology. Living the Proptech life, one building at a time 
  • Nicolas Waern, Podcast Creator, Strategy & Innovation Expert at WINNIIO

A Digital Twin Perspective – Ballast Water Exchange #Shipping

“Oh Captain my Captain – This is what you need to do” – A thought piece of what should be done to leverage the value of all data that already exists in the world. Spotlight – Ballast Water Exchange

How can we make the world work for us?

The information in this article is a typical example of how improvements could be made in a specific vertical (Shipping) with a specific use case (Ballast Water Exchange) and some of the most important factors to think about in any industry. It’s an article about the necessity of utilizing modern technological advances with old school knowledge, and how important it is to start somewhere and not “boil the ocean”. It’s less about “the connected ship” and more about understanding the overall context where decisions are made today. By mapping out existing ways of working companies can save a lot of time and effort, trying to boil the ocean with new data. It’s not so much about finding the absolute truth, as it is navigating the seas of unknown and minimizing risk.

The technical solutions discussed are Digital Twin Platforms and Data harmonization tools which have the capabilities to make entities like ships, buildings, trucks, processes, anything tied to a physical space, be made aware of what they need to be aware of. Irrespective of the data source.

The challenges to get there are not in the slightest a lack of technology. But moreover, a lack of understanding where the problems are, what benefits should be derived, and existing people, processes, hierarchy, culture, and an overall low digital maturity of systems that stand in the way.

If not evident on its own, I also do a dive at the end into how this could be interesting for Construction, Smart City planning, Smart Buildings, Connected Mobility, and a Smarter World in general.

Important takeaways from this article for ANY industry.

  1. Understanding what the intended outcome should look like and what is needed to get there, that is also in alignment with a North Star Strategy. The benefits realization approach described here could be an important tool in understanding what needs to be done. The benefits or the intended outcome, in this case, would be to find out optimal conditions for ballast water exchange based on a daunting amount of different parameters.
  2. The importance of understanding the as-is situation, limitations, where data is today, what they look like, and getting a perspective on the problem at hand. NOT talking about technology. Companies need to realize it’s the data and information that companies don’t have that will change their life. If this is understood, and recognized, the natural next step for organizations results in a willingness to understand more about the data they do have. And what steps to be taken to acquire the data they need, in order to reach the intended outcome.
  3. Don’t boil the ocean from the beginning. It’s only when 1 and 2 are defined that we should start thinking about bridging the gap with modern technology. When the future state and as-is state are defined and mapped out, it is now time to invite experts to discuss what the best way would be to solve the problem. Start somewhere, keep adding information to the defined challenge, realizing it’s all data that is needed.

However, the “silo-challenges” usually start here where there’s usually silo-driven consultancy in one area, neglecting the fact that organizations as well as problems seldom existing in only one silo. The article will try to illustrate the necessity of a common base to stand on for both people and systems. Because if companies can pinpoint what the intended benefits are and what the intended outcome is, combined with an understanding of how they are working today. EVERYTHING will (if you know what you are talking about) be extremely easy to do, in an interoperable, scalable, tamper-proof, and future-proof way. It’s important to have a True North star strategy that is aligned with said initiatives where the final outcome of this specific slice of reality should be to realize the full potential of ships (with the subslice of Ballast Water Exchange Management).

And the start of this world-building exercise could be to map out how Ballast Water Exchange Management is performed in order to solve a specific problem, with technology that can scale and span boundaries between both people and systems.

A BIG thank you to Bikram Singh who wrote this informative article about Ballast Water Exchange which I am using as a backbone for this article. And to Mattias Larsson from the Maritime Checklist company Maranics, for providing valuable advice and insights to this article.

Understanding existing organizational/cultural challenges in traditional industries.

Read my…text. It’s not the talk of technology that will solve anything. It’s the correct usage of technology that will solve everything. Traditional industries need to utilize modern technology based on where they are today in solving the problems they have. Modern approaches are all about leveraging existing knowledge as well as existing technology instead of a RIP and replace approach. It’s a step by step process. However, traditional industries do need to change their mindset more than anything, or else they risk being disrupted by the ones who’s got the organizational agility, the strategy and the vision to use modern technology and keep up with the times. Because the times, they are a changin.

Some of the classic pitfalls in traditional industries include:
  • Not viewing technology as an enabler and instead keep on working the way it has always been done. Opposite of change before you have to and more “let’s go down with the ship”. The blame should not only be put on the existing players in traditional industries, but also on suppliers, failing to resonate with the buyers.
  • Challenges in building a business case from the supplier side, as well as the buyer side of things, and if POCs (Proof of Concepts) survive, they are usually killed by middle management. All sides have difficulties in answer, how long time it should take, what is the value for whom, and an overall lack of a benefits-driven approach.
  • Data in all shapes or forms are usually hard to get to. It could be because of vendor lock-in, proprietary systems from start to finish, pen and paper, fiefdoms, bureaucracy overload, and just an overall low organizational and industry digital maturity.
  • Cybersecurity is always a risk, let’s forbid the use of connectivity instead of understanding what attack surfaces that exist, and how to mitigate/eliminate possible attacks.
  • Communication challenges between people of different disciplines, as well as systems of different areas. The building automation industry has this problem with the so-called “skill-shortage gap”. People work in silos, communicate in silos and the only one who’s got a clue about the holistic perspective (In just one silo) are about to retire. Combine this with the fact that organizations themselves are working in silos and we’ll get a glimpse of the URGENCY to enable both systems and people to communicate around a common base to stand on.
  • Domain-specific tools and technologies that barely solve problems within their own discipline. This is usually coupled with a pen & paper approach, knowledge queens and kings, excel sheets, BI-dashboards which require said domain-specific knowledge to interpret.

Traditional industries are broken. How do we fix it?

Why not start with a look at the Shipping Industry & Ballast water exchange?

Shipping & Ballast water exchange

I stumbled upon this topic when reading up about shipping, and the environmental impacts of shipping. I was doing the investigation for Post-COVID compliance use cases regarding quarantining onboard cruise-vessels. And that got me intrigued so I started reading about Ballast water discharge, what it does to the environment and what existing challenges and solutions are.

Ballast water discharge and the environment

Ballast water discharges by ships can have a negative impact on the marine environment.[1]

Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a huge amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded.

Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plantsanimalsviruses, and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, invasive, exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems along with serious human health problems (Wikipedia).”

This threat is so large it is viewed as one of the top threats to the world’s oceans.

Analogy time

An interesting topic. And releasing water where it shouldn’t seem to be the same reason why people shouldn’t throw banana peels in the forest. They don’t belong there. The animals are not used to eating banana peels. It might take years for banana peels to decompose. And if you throw them out of the window, it might signal that there’s plenty of food next to roads, which could lead to more deaths because large animals gather by the roads. And as the quote says above, it’s such a large threat for the world’s oceans (Great information supplied by a vendor of combating these solutions).

Here are a couple of ways it’s being solved in a practical way

My mind raced to solve this problem but I stopped myself in my tracks and a quick Google resulted in these different ways to solve the Ballast Water Exchange challenges:

  1. Filtration Systems (physical)
  2. Chemical Disinfection ( oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocides)
  3. Ultra-violet treatment.
  4. Deoxygenation treatment.
  5. Heat (thermal treatment)
  6. Acoustic (cavitation treatment)
  7. Electric pulse/pulse plasma systems

All good. So there are specific solutions that can kill everything in the water, thus enabling ships to dump the water “anywhere”. And in some locations “lifeless water” can be collected where there are depths of 2500 meters. My “brilliant” idea would have been to just take data from the existing ships, finding out when they pick up water, cross-reference the coordinates with a map, store that in a blockchain somewhere, and then just make sure ships just drop it back in where they found it? Great right? But when thinking about it and reading about how this is solved today I realized quickly that it won’t work, it’s not nearly as practical as I had first thought. And possibly also outright stupid. So, what could be a better approach?

…Maybe looking into how it’s being done today?

Practical rules and limitations today

This blog from Marine Insight provides even more information about the lay of the… lake and what obstacles exist today. The blog is used as a backbone for the remainder of this thought-piece.

“Ballast water exchange cannot be carried out anywhere at sea. There are certain requirements that must be complied with to perform a ballast water exchange at sea.

  1. Conduct ballast water exchange at least 200 nautical miles from the nearest land and in the water of at least 200 meters in depth.
  2. When a ship cannot meet the above criteria due to reasons such as short voyage duration or enclosed waters, the exchange is to be conducted as far from the nearest land as possible, but at least 50 nautical miles from the nearest land and in a water depth of at least 200 meters”.

My thoughts race towards the ability to follow-up on this on a global scale and making sure actions are being recorded in a non-tamper proof way. I’m thinking that this is done in a manual way right now, with very little insight into how it’s actually being done. The article continues to state some interesting information about the BWM Convention…

“…The Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention is applicable to new and existing ships that are designed to carry ballast water and are of 400 gross tonnages and above.

The BWM Convention entered into force on 8th September 2017. In order to show compliance with the requirements of the Convention, each ship shall have on board a valid Certificate, a Ballast Water Management Plan, and a Ballast Water Record Book”.

The article continues to describe the problem from an in-depth level and what is needed to do and why it’s needed. There are a lot of parameters to think about and this whole process of using pen and paper is something that could and also should be automated. It seems to me that there are far too many parameters for one person to make any informed decisions on a complete scale. Similar to that of the ways of working with building automation, construction, and any traditional industry.

Environmental Conditions to think about

The article in the Marineinsights blog really depicts everything I never knew that I wanted to know about Ballast Water Exchange. It’s an amazing read. The article also explains that these key points need to be taken into consideration when executing a ballast water exchange.

  1. The vessel’s position including traffic density.
  2. Weather forecasts and sea conditions.
  3. Vessel’s stability and loading conditions.
  4. Condition and performance of the vessel’s machinery and maneuverability.

All of the four bullet points above should be quite easy to pick up from APIs in different places. The first question to answers should be to find out where the data is today and in what format. But what about the regional factors and additional factors?

Other Environmental factors to adhere to are:
  1. Areas identified by the port state in connection with warnings provided by ports concerning ballast uptake and any other port contingency arrangements in the event of emergency situations (Need to find existing data source)
  2. in darkness when organisms may rise up in the water column (At what time)
  3. in very shallow water (maps+ location)
  4. where propellers may stir up sediment (combine ship information with map+location+time+possible sensors)
  5. areas with current large phytoplankton blooms (algal blooms such as red tides) (combine onboard data, on the edge camera infrastructure with ML/AI algorithms trained to detect specific patterns, with global data, news sources, that are being triggered by location and time)
  6. nearby sewage outfalls (where is the data today?)
  7. where a tidal stream is known to be more turbid (Need to find existing data sources)
  8. where tidal flushing is known to be poor (Need to find existing data sources)
  9. in areas close to aquaculture (Need to find existing data sources)
  10. where dredging is or recently has been carried out. (Need to find existing data source)
  11. In areas with naturally high levels of suspended sediments, e.g. river mouths, and delta areas, or in locations that have been affected significantly by soil erosion from inland drainage. (Need to find existing data source)

Getting this on Record

All of the information on how the ship is behaving at all times, where the ship is at, and what local/regional/global regulations are in play should be mapped out. And it’s evident that this could be done, and the importance of finding out where the data is today. Some of the data could be/should be visible in a GIS-database most likely. And as we can see, it’s usually not just ONE data source where information comes from but several, from different contexts, disciplines, which might not make it easy to compare. But if there is an intent, and intended outcome to be solved, it shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s all about finding the answers to a question and understanding what factors impact the likelihood of said answers to be accurate.

And it’s equally important that the governing body has a future-proof way of monitoring said approaches in a scalable way. But first, how are the Ballast Water Exchange procedures recorded today?

Manual ways of working

“…Each procedure concerning ballast water exchange is to be fully recorded without delay in the ballast water record book (An integral part of the ballast water management plan). These records are considered to be critical to the success of the ballast water management plan and dole out to provide documentation that the ballast water exchange has been properly conducted and the exchange has been completed.

Also included should be a list that identifies a representative listing of those items that may be considered for inclusion as a section of the Ballast Water Management Plan, as follows:

  • The location (Lat/Long) where ballast water exchange is to occur is to be identified. (Map overlay)
  • A detailed position and description of the watertight and weathertight closures (e.g., manholes, the opening of vents and air pipes) which may have been opened during ballast exchange that must be re-secured. (IoT magnetic sensors, sending time-stamped data from ship to shore, to be automatically uploaded to the cloud for secure storage/and/or/grabbing existing data from the systems which monitor this today).
  • Descriptions of the procedures required to conduct ballast water exchange and the estimated volume of ballast water which includes the following:
    1. When ballast water is taken onboard
    2. Whenever ballast water is circulated or treated for ballast water management purposes
    3. When ballast water is discharged into the sea
    4. When ballast water is discharged to a reception facility
    5. Accidental or other exceptional uptake or discharge of ballast water
    6. Additional operational procedures and general remarks.

The ability to get these things on record in a tamper-proof scalable way reminds me of the discussions of police-body cameras. There are continuous discussions that the body cameras need to automatically send their data to “the cloud” for governing bodies to get access at all times. Could it be the same approach here? In that the data can’t be tampered with easily and that the data is stored in a ledger?

With stream processing technology like Kafka, it could also be stored on the edge, and possibly to be coordinated with the VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) on the ship. However as this article states, data might be overwritten every 12 hours and the Captain also has a button that will create a new entry to overwrite existing data. However, this article states that “regulations also state a minimum of 30 days of recorded data must be held internally”. This could be better of course. But it’s still at the ship and not being stored somewhere else in a tamper-proof way.

What conclusions can we draw from this?

Final thoughts and how to solve it

In this case, the question that the ship should be asking the data fabric:

“Hello Ship – “Where is the optimal place for ballast exchange on this journey”

The ship then asks the “data”, which could be a global database with all the information about the ship, the location, the weather, regional regulations, GIS-databases, news-sources, etc etc, and gets an answer back to the Environmental person onboard who tells the Captain when to plan for this.

And then it gets written down in a ledger going back to manual ways of working…?

Or, in the future, the system will tell the ship about this and the ship will already have factored it into the course. Automated shipping, on a global scale. And all of these events are being stored in a “Ballast Blockchain” with some added benefits of a digital approach for regulatory purposes, sustainability and transparency reasons.

Benefits of a Digital approach to Ballast Management

  • A digital approach to ballast water exchange management would seek to combat improperly filled-out or missing entries of all ballast water movements. And also be an automated BWM record book, that collects data from necessary data sources automatically.
  • Making sure ballast water exchange procedures are correct, knowing that water was actually exchanged and that the amount of water was sufficient.
  • Coordinating real-time data for the BWM-plan to make sure it has been approved, up to date, correct, and existing. Also adhering to re-approval of the BWM plan after the change of flag.
  • Contribute to the familiarization and training of the crew, increasing the impact of handling ballast water in accordance with the BWMC.
  • Invite to innovate concept where interested parties can dig into the data fabric and do assessments, fault detect, innovate as well as solve problems and measure sustainability metrics because of an added transparency through the value chain.

Making decisions based on ALL of the data

The importance of making decisions based on ALL of the data has to be understood. Because even if all the “static” global data is saying one thing, there might be something wrong with the ship itself. This means that it won’t reach the intended location because of an internal engine problem. Maybe someone onboard the ship might need emergency care, which affects the ship’s journey, or any other of 10 000’s things that could affect anything. Which is why everything needs to be connected at all times, in order to realize the full potential of just this subset. Because it’s not the Ballast Water Management topic in itself that is the most interesting factor. It’s how it interacts with the world around it, and specifically how the world interacts and affects the Ballast Water Management Plan.

And the interesting thing is, that once this data fabric is up, it’s just the questions that need asking because the answers are already here, and it could be re-used for other purposes as well.

It is similar to the idea of parametric design and about achieving the intended outcome, based on an idea of what should be achieved. By creating a data fabric of the knowns, and unknowns everything becomes comparable and relatable into a data fabric where everything is on the same level, and everything affects each other. It sounds like it’s the realization of the french philosopher Bruno Latour and the ANT-theory, and it actually might be. He stated that technology and people are all part of a network where they affect each other. The importance of creating a holistic fabric that everyone can understand, independent of discipline, human or machine cannot be understated. The possibilities of inviting experts to look at a specific problem, from their own angle, populating the digital twin, whilst still being able to show what is going on to others in adjacent or not as adjacent fields is extremely important.

Why a more modern approach should matter

People need to be able to communicate with something that takes in data from everywhere and still doesn’t lose its shape. The 3D-visualization of an entity like a ship, a building, a city, a construction site, a turbine, anything that exists in the physical world provides the context necessary for both people and systems to create a real-time connected digital twin world based on a specific slice of reality and to grow the value in a scalable, inclusive, collaborative way.

The world as we know it is still very much Plato’s Cave. We see all of these things happening but we don’t understand the context. We can’t form a cohesive shape to form our understanding because we have all different backgrounds and views of the future and the only thing we can do is to have opinions. The Digital Twin creates certainty out of uncertainty, allowing and enabling people to see the same things. To understand and demystify complexity between disciplines and industries and follow a red-thread through space and time. The room for philosophical reasoning will still be there, but it will all be around a Digital Twin.

“The Uncensored Library is a Minecraft server and map released by Reporters without Borders and created by BlockWorks, DDB Berlin, and MediaMonks as an attempt to circumvent censorship in countries without freedom of the press. The library contains banned reporting from Mexico, Russia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt”. – Wikipedia

This topic is an article on its own, but it shows that this is already happening. The tools that they are using just needs to be changed, and the world we know (don’t know) will be much easier to understand.

The almost infinite opportunities occur when combining different slices from different industries, macro to micro-sized challenges. Where in the end there will be a global digital twin, built and utilized by both humans and machines that is definitive in its nature. The butterfly effects will take shape before us and we’ll have both the real world and also the digital world. A mirror image of everything that goes on and an end to re-inventing the wheel. And eventually, we’ll most likely make the decision which world we want to live in. A world with borders? Or a world without borders, where anything and everything is possible? It’s a Minecraft world on the way where some Very Innovative People have already started as seen below above.

All different slices will form:

– The Industry Digital Twin.

– The National Digital Twin.

– The Global Digital Twin

What role are you playing today, or want to play in the future? Please leave a comment on what you think and what your challenges are!

Wärtsilä Call – Optimizing Shipping operations

During one of the calls this week I talked to Wärtsilä Voyage Solutions who are digitizing onboard operations for improved efficiency and compliance.

Getting a call with Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä is a company who is “enabling sustainable societies with smart technology”. My connection to them was a classic one in my book. It was during the exact same time I got introduced to IoT and Building Automation when I also met Lauri Kovanen, now Senior Analyst at Wärtsilä Voyage Solutions at the World’s largest Entrepreneurship conference, Slush. We kept in touch somehow, and I love these connections because you never know when you can help someone else, or when help is needed.

He’s going on parental leave next week but he managed to schedule a quick call with himself and Venla Pouru who was equally impressive. During the call, I got to understand more about their offering, what they are doing today, and what they could, and possibly should be doing for their customers tomorrow.

I think this is a great overview in itself. It shows what goes into the gateway and what outputs, and part of what value it means for whom. Very nice. A bit surprising that they did parts of things that were not their core, like the Electronic logbook. Or maybe I was a bit disappointed on behalf of another company that I know, Maranics. I think there are definitive synergies and I think in an ecosystem kind of way. So we’ll see if I can make some intros.

Based on what Lauri said (and what my notes and above image is telling me) is that they are focusing on the energy side of things, and in general these high level topics.

  1. Hydrodynamics
  2. Fuel consumption in the Machine park
  3. Hotel energy consumption. And according to Wärtsilä, they have a power plant onboard which in itself extremely interesting of course for someone who’s unfamiliar with how cruise ships are built.

Some Reflections from the call

Super interesting to learn more about another area that are in part, very similar to building automation, smart buildings, and of course they are smart city miniatures. And because they also do analytics I could see a lot of similarities with the knowledge I have in data harmonization tools, AI/Machine learning prerequisites and data strategies, data architecture that involves Edge/Cloud hybrid thinking.

Basically, they have their area of which they call their Digital Twin. It didn’t have any visual side to it, and not necessarily a complete mirror image, but it was definitely fit for purpose running their models. They collect data from ship sensors, do some analytics on the edge. But the majority seemed to be to get data out from the ship at 15 minute intervals, send it to “the cloud”, where other data sources augment the data, and then send it back to the ship. Cloud data that was augmented could be regional regulations, weather data of course, and any other data that could be relevant for the ship at a specific point in time.

It’s similar to what the building automation industry is going through, and perhaps shipping is a bit closer to cutting edge stuff than buildings, but not necessarily so.

Here are a couple of perspectives of what shipping could do in the future:

  • Re-use and utilize the BIM model as the baseplate to hang up everything that goes on in the ship. Both from a collaborative approach and find new business models that can make money for the owners even during port-time. But mostly to attach any data sources within the ship, and keep adding data sources over time
  • Edge analytics and more of a distributed intelligence approach
  • Work with an ecosystem approach and inviting to innovate with things that others are experts in to fully realize the true potential of ships. For themselves as well as owners.
  • The BIM model and Cad-files that were used don’t seem to be used during the operation stage. Similar, if not identical to how buildings are built, in the sense that value gets lost over time. By using the BIM-models as the baseplate for everything that goes on, companies can build true digital twins that scale across silos and realize the full potential of ships and fleet management.
  • “Go-to-cloud” seems prevalent (thinking that Wärtsilä is leaders in their field) still. They seemed to have a hybrid approach, but I’m wondering how sophisticated it is. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that granular tbh, but I also see that it’s moving more towards distributed intelligence and edge analytics in other verticals.The benefit with edge analytics is that the ship continues to be smart even without an internet connection. And when there is a connection and a sophisticated data-strategy, some KPIs can be sent to the cloud and not all of the data. This saves money and communication challenges which is a double win! I got this from a guru at one of the AI/ML companies in my network.Imagine if all passengers just had a AI/ML stuff built in to their access cards that could detect a swift change in altitude (someone is falling) that would alert necessary systems onboard, automatically throw out some life jackets or whatever, and then also send a signal to the bridge, saving the location, and possibly turn on thermal cameras across the ship that are also connected to the same data fabric. That might be a specific solution that exists, but it would be even better if it was tied to the overall digital twin fabric.
  • Ideas on how to provide more value for customers but not necessarily an ecosystem strategy, or a way to utilize true Digital Twin technology to absorb data from other sources within their analytics framework. Getting even more granular data from all aspects of the ship would be even better to continue to run the ship in an optimal state in real time, not only every 15 min, or less.

    I understand them since historically making sense of data across disciplines has been extremely hard. And this has led to the “Data cleaning”-period being discussed here and here, and of course also a lack of “All the data” which can lead to erroneous assumptions as described herehere and here. But, with the advent of ontology-based digital twins that create a digital twin based on what the real world looks like, this doesn’t have to be as complicated. And by utilizing data harmonization platforms like Platform of Trust companies can outsource all of their data harmonization issues to a company that only specializes in that area so companies can just create value from one API instead of ten or twenty.


Using proven cutting edge-technology would help Wärtsilä tie into other areas that Wärtsilä aren’t experts in. With data harmonization tool and the Digital Twin creation platform they don’t have to be worried about making sense of the data, wherever it comes from. It comes with the Digital twin, allowing them to better cater to the needs of their customers, and take a larger piece of the market in getting ALL things connected.

And there’s the Post COVID compliance aspects to understand, and to get going with products where there is a huge sense of urgency in this market.

Wärtsilä seem to be an incredible company with stellar offerings. But now when there’s pressure in the market from all sides, they too need to step out and go out of their comfort zone. Not only for themselves to stay relevant. But even more so for their customers.

The New Normal

– Achieving a True North Star(s) Strategy

Protests, global unrest, COVID19/Corona, Pandemics, and then we have the new normal for real estate. This article will focus on the new normal and offer a snapshot perspective on what needs to be done. And some ideas on where to get started.

“It’s not the data that companies have that will mean the world to them.

It’s the data that companies don’t have that will change their life.

Building the future on yesterdays data and technology

I see this all the time. Companies are trying to use the data that they have to make better decisions. The information that they have collected and stored for ages on how they have been performing. However, utilizing this data inside the silos where it was formed can unfortunately be quite useless. I fear that these companies will meet their demise even faster and continue on with their path dependency and thus move more quickly towards their end.

Change before you have to

Companies need to realize that the future is changing and that they, as well as buildings, have to pass the test of time. Leaders and decision-makers need to be looking ahead. If companies don’t change anything, nothing will change.

Yes, companies need to make data-driven decisions based on the data they do have. But they need to do it in a different context, not utilizing it in silos; and not with the same people that are part of the problem. Decision-makers need to boldly go where they have not gone before and bring their people with them. They need to invite other perspectives, more perspectives and promote curiosity and viewing problems in more ways than one.

How to start

A great way to start is by looking at the horizontal process and inviting all stakeholders relevant to a specific process to discuss the end2end process together. Using a round table approach where new input is allowed and debated from a lifecycle perspective. Because it’s the data they don’t have, that will change their life. And that data comes from communicating with other people.

The two things for companies that want to get started, get going, and succeed with digitalization.

  • The first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one. And by understanding there is a problem, there is hopefully room for some problem-solving. On the road to industry leadership, companies should start by doing two things.
  1. What is the organizational strategy, mission, vision?
  2. What are the top four problems today?

Number one – re-aligning corporate strategy to the true north star.

This might seem “fluffy” as hell to be honest, and you might be thinking that it does not have anything to do with you, or anything practical.

You could not be more wrong, and I will tell you why.

Have you seen that companies have a hard time justifying new IT investments? That sometimes industries have a hard time changing? Why is that?

If we go to the building segment, let’s investigate what value real estate owners deliver to their tenants? For housing, it is probably offering a sense of security for people in the comfort of their own homes. And for commercial tenants, it could be that the buildings should help deliver services that lead to increased well-being and profitability for their tenants.

But today these companies probably say that they collect rent, and their strategies, if existing, are all about saving money, and energy efficiency. And most of all if they can somehow increase the rent. Their vision and mission might be inexistent and it’s not always not aligned with what their customers need, and therefore, nor are their buildings. And any investment made, cannot be justified, because they do not have a clue of what value they are failing to provide.  They are using the wrong metrics.

“By getting the strategy right, all investment decisions can now be justified towards the true north star.”

That is number 1. If the strategy is done correctly, everything else will have a more substantial likelihood of taking the company in the right direction. Without it, much-needed technology investments will never happen because they do not provide any justifiable ROI. But if the other option is bankruptcy, and not being relevant, the ROI will find itself rather quickly (hopefully).

If nothing changes, nothing will change.

Number 2. “Dig and pick”

Now that the company understands what they should do/where they want to be in the future, they should see where their pain points are. Is it the people, the processes, the IT-systems, the culture, the hierarchy, or something else that they need? Maybe the assets are not digitally mature enough? Is it possible to get data out, how to do it, and is the juice worth the squeeze? It depends on what you are measuring against.

Whatever it might be, they should get started somewhere. Usually, it’s best to dig where processes stand, shave off 10 minutes on a process, start with the tasks that take the most time, the tedious tasks, or anything else that is a hindrance to the true north star.

The benefits of starting with the low-hanging fruits are that it is easier to create champions of change in the organization and get a momentum going. If companies do not have top management buy-in, this is important. But it could also lead to places where companies do not want to be as summarized in my final words.

Don’t be useless – Conclusion and common pitfalls

The true north star for any company is to provide the value to their customer better, faster, and more efficiently than anyone else. And in today’s world, companies that work with buildings need to make the most of modern tools and technologies.

And it is up to the organization, usually the CEO, the Top Managerial Team, and the Board to lead the way. If companies do not have management buy-in and start doing things on their own, things could backfire. And like Peter Drucker said,

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all” – Peter Drucker

Try to get management buy-in, or if that fails, do it anyway. It is better to do something than nothing and then fail fast. The capabilities companies working in the real estate sector needs to have are the same as the building that the tenants are requiring. Companies need to be flexible and to have the ability to adapt and leverage modern technology for themselves as well as for their customers. If companies do not work digitally, whatever that means for the organization or the customers, companies will soon find themselves out of a job, or an asset, or both. The future is based upon adaptability and creating resilient companies and buildings.

Buildings are part of a larger piece in the whole Smart City puzzle where technology is a small but essential piece.  The key is to get to know where the world is moving before it has already gotten there. Achieving digital leadership requires modern tools as well as partners in an ecosystem, leveraging unique skill sets and working with people in the know of what their True North Star is.

Agree or disagree? Maybe want to add some comments? Please do!

Beyond Buildings is here to create a dialogue around what the world is going to do a month, a year, a decade from now. It’s written by Nicolas Waern from the consultant company WINNIIO who’s got a holistic understanding of what is needed to stand out from the competition, advise on pros and cons, and be the strategic partner for both technology and organization-advice in a Smart World Environment (Construction/Industry/Smart Buildings and Cities).

Please reach out if you have any questions on how to get started, get going, or how to succeed in the next decade! And share this article if you think it could be helpful for someone else!


Nicolas Waern
Ecosystem Architect – Helping companies create optimal value in a Smart City Context

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