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Why New Daedalus?

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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Friday
Dec192008

Gamboling through the Clouds

Some months ago, I wrote about how Software as a Service (SaaS) was going to be used in building controls. The UNC Enterprise Building Management System (EBMS) and Hosted Controls already use that model for monitoring and operations of building systems. Others like Sensus offer building analytics and knowledge-based maintenance from their own data center. Now Harrah’s Entertainment, the largest of the casino operators is moving into the clouds, and the outcome may change building systems again.

It has been best practice for a while now to interface building systems to hotel customer operations. The check-in process can activate the room systems, which then save energy when not rented. Front door access control sensors can read the room key and turn on the room conditioning as the guest comes in the front door. The Hotel Technology Next Generation group has even included remembering customer preferences for the operation of room based systems in their customer retention strategies. Traditionally, these approaches relied on direct interaction with the reservations system.

Harrah’s has outsourced its systems for managing reservations, for air travel, and for player relations to the SaaS vendor SalesForce.com. This is a strong statement, as no industry relies more on customer loyalty programs than the gaming industry, and Harrah’s is known for the most data intensive approach to this problem.

One of the concerns with outsourcing core business functions like this is vendor lock-in; you have committed yourself to integrating your other business functions with an external computing resource of which you have no control. It is easy to view these operations as a simple user interface for the customer making a reservation, and for the clerk checking the customer in. The hotel reservation has a host of interactions, however. Housekeeping needs to know not only when the customer arrives and departs, but also any requirements for special bedding, or extra towels. The restaurant may support one free drink on the night of check-in; tabs for breakfast on the departure date may need expedited processing. In today’s hotel, third parties may run housekeeping and the restaurant, increasing the complexity of the interaction

These interactions, and their importance to the enterprise, are why service interfaces and service definitions are so important.

If we take these interactions to building maintenance and operations, and to new energy markets, the service interaction problems continue. The reservation process should drive the operation of each room. The hotelier may want to balance spreading guests out for maximum privacy vs. bunching guests on a few floors because of anticipated high energy costs or energy reliability signals. Organizations such as Harrah’s demand close integration of tenant service and physical security.

Harrah’s provides high amenity facilities wherein an extra feel of luxury creates an increased willingness to gamble. Harrah’s has global distribution with considerable site-based diversity. Knowledge based maintenance and central management of facility quality are particularly valuable to Harrah’s.

Standard service definitions can put all operations into cloud computing, whether the low hanging fog of facility operations or the core customer relationship management that Harrah’s has outsourced. Building controls are grounded concrete systems—but their heads should be in the clouds.

 

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