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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Wednesday
Sep192007

oBIX – Why have an Enterprise Interface to Control Systems?

What would it be worth to you if building systems could respond to the enterprise?

What if your building could respond to you and your tenants? What if your building was responsive to normal business processes, so that a simple invitation to reserve a room on Saturday set the operating rules for the air conditioning and security systems? What if your tenants did not have to hunt down facilities staff? What would that be worth to you?

What if you could tell how well your building was operating, without expensive on-site expertise? What if you could eliminate unnecessary maintenance? What if your building could tell you when it needed a filter change, so you replaced only on request? What if building system problems were fixed before your tenants knew about them. What would that be worth to you?

What if you could share operating information with off-site experts who would tell you what to fix before it breaks? What if you could find air conditioning problems in the spring instead of on a hot summer’s day? What if these systems could track live energy pricing , so every repair recommendation included the additional cost of not making the repair. What if you could schedule repairs to never inconvenience your tenants. What would that be worth to you?

What if you could tell your building when the repair contractor was coming? What if your access control system could let him in, using his company badge? What if your building logged the time he arrived and left, and f that log were linked to the original service order? What would that save you, in time, in billings, and in staff?

What if your building could negotiate with the power company, buying electricity when it was cheapest, and storing it later use? What if you could disconnect from the grid when prices were high? What if you could offer your tenants power that would not damage their computers, not damage their equipment. What if you could sell energy options back to the power company, and get new revenue from your building? What would that be worth to you?

For the last five years, representatives from major buildings controls companies have worked on an enterprise -ready interface for embedded building control systems. Building control systems include all the intelligent engineered systems in a building, whether HVAC, Access Control, or Medical Gas Distribution. These systems are traditionally invisible and uncontrollable, using protocols little known in the IT world.

Four years ago, oBIX (open Building Information Xml) became a committee of OASIS, (www.oasis-open.org), the premier open standards organization for the enterprise. oBIX 1.0 provides low level access to essential control system functions. oBIX 1.0 offers normalized access to system watches, points, events, and histories. Building systems are no longer invisible and uncontrollable.

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    You are completely on the mark in your criticisms of the current administration\'s trade policies, and, what is more, by refraining from \"Type M\" arguments, you make it easier for those on the other side of the political divide to voice their agreement with you. If only a certain NYT columnist ...
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    oBIX – Why have an Enterprise Interface to Control Systems? - The New Daedalus - New Daedalus

Reader Comments (1)

Toby,

As usual you have great insight. Having just participated in an engagement with a large banking client where these very concepts were analyzed and proposed, I have the following comments.
Clients want to be “Green” only if it doesn’t cost appreciably more than the status quo. Even if payback and employee productivity are proven, they still may not pay the upfront capital.

The complexity of an integrated building can be too much for the IT group to support. To truly have a building respond to its occupants requires sharing of information at the enterprise level. These systems are generally secure and the thought of sharing data with a building system is not in their comfort zone. These lower level building systems generally support the equivalent security of a server in the building MDF. That leads us to locating the building systems in secure IDF closets and locating the integration engine in the MDF of Data Center. This now starts a process that can spiral out of control, cost centers, who’s going to pay for the upkeep and management of this? The IT groups have the least to gain and will be asked to support additional risk. Without a high level sponsor for the project, the chances of success are minimal. Even with high level support the IT department wields a lot power, they throw around support issues, delays in core responsibilities, risk and fear.

I whole heartily agree that this is where the market is heading but I think there are still major obstacles to fully integrating a building. The fragility of such an integrated building can be an issue. If data between the systems at all levels are being shared, how do you prevent a cascading failure across systems when someone makes a change to one? Moves, adds and changes which always occur in buildings can have catastrophic results in a converged environment. The type of innovation required to pull together these systems together can be rather costly. This is not a plug and play solution, it is a highly customized software application that is adaptable to the requirements of the clients IT department. What if they don’t allow Windows OS in their Data Center, are the vendors going to redevelop their solutions on the OS de jour? This may sound extreme but I can tell you first hand, these issues do exist.

To gain the trust of the IT department, the integrator will have to employ some very expensive personnel. A network engineer, software architect and building systems specialist are a few that come to mind. Contractual language must be drafted to force cooperation between the vendors and the integrator. This type of integration is possible and someday will be common place, in the mean time we will continue the good fight.

John G.

September 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn G.

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