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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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Thursday
Sep062007

Information Stewardship

A design firm came on to campus the other day to begin conversations on the new School of Information and Library Science (SILS). Library Science has been one of the more interesting areas of IT in the last few years, as they are positioning themselves as the side of Information Technology (IT) not concerned with the bits and bytes, nor with the collection of data, but with delivery of information.

The Art of the Librarian has always been about the delivery of the right information in the right format at the right time. Google delivers vast amounts of references at your fingertips, each information set and document only a click away. Little Billy in the second grade asks the school Librarian for a book about frogs and his handed a book with lots of pictures and small words. Nine years later, William, now taking AP Biology, asks the school Librarian for a book about frogs and gets an entirely different set of volumes. Librarians know that context determines the correct information.

The design firm knows a little something about its audience, and they presented a pitch that the project use new approaches based information stewardship. New approaches can be a difficult sell to someone who has one chance once to build a building. Even so, it seems to me the Information Stewardship is a good line to take with Librarians.

Information Stewardship appears include keeping all design information on-line and electronically readable. All commissioning information will also be kept on line. Making a statement that speaks to me, the firm also asked that they have access to live operating data for at least a year, to make sure that the building delivers the energy and performance goals that are specified in the design.

This last point is particularly important. One of the worst failings of first generation LEEDS Green Buildings was their long term performance. Platinum building performance was never verified. Innovative designed were never adequately explained to maintenance and operations personnel. At last, that nettlesome vibration is solved putting a brick on the damper. At last, that noise in the duct is blocked by shoving a file cabinet in front of the oversized return. A year after delivery, the performance is poor.

Regular readers will recognize the goals of this project as being similar to those of the National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS), now known as buildSmart. It is interesting that the design firm professed no awareness of NBIMS, and in particular, no awareness of the Common Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) which specifies the hand-off of information from design and construction to operations.

SILS has recently begun offering concentrations in Bioinformatics. There is some discussion about adding a concentration in Business Informatics. Perhaps, with the aid of Building Information Stewardship, we can begin the development of Building Informatics. If so, this could be the missing piece in developing the abstractions needed to develop truly responsive buildings for the transacted energy grid.

Is anyone else as confused as I about the differences between Informatics, Infomatics, and Analytics? They seem to be used interchangeably, but in different conversations. Please post if you can define the distinctions.

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