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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.

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Work Plan for oBIX 2.0

Some of you know that the oBIX Committee (open Building Information Exchange) is meeting again. The work is moving ahead on multiple fronts. We have separated encodings (XML and COAP) from the core specification. We are working on separate transport specifications for SOAP and REST (including JSON). We are doing a refresh of the core specification for consistency and conformance. I am most excited, however about the oBIX 2.0, the enterprise services.

The core specification (1.x) requires each oBIX server to provide a lobby. Clients can ask the server what is in the lobby, and thereby discover how to interact with the system behind that server. Contracts are special purpose agreements that are added to the lobby. Clients can invoke contracts by accessing the elements listed in the lobby. Vendors and integrators can add functionality to an oBIX server by creating contracts to add to the lobby.

Our current plan is to define enterprise services by specifying new types of contracts to place in the lobby. oBIX servers will then state which types of contracts they support, which encodings, and which transports. As of March 2013, we anticipate the following sections:


oBIX Servers are likely to participate in collaborative energy ecosystems including those managed by Energy Interoperation (OpenADR 2.0) or as described by ASHRAE SPC 201. We plan to incorporate information models and semantics developed to support the US national Smart Grid efforts, including Green Button. Potential contracts include not only energy usage reporting, but projections and commitments as well. We anticipate leveraging the existing OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange (EMIX) Specific information exchange requirements as defined in NAESB REQ 21

Advanced Reporting and Aggregation (Historian)

The historian does not scale well in its current form. A request for, say, a one year history on several sensors is larger and more unwieldy than it need be. It may be necessary to support variations such as projections. We do not want to break compatibility.

Alarm Logic.

This topic extends alarm contracts to include logic for alarms. If A happens followed within three minutes by B. If the cycle between occurrences of A is less than 5 minutes. This is in effect defining diagnostics with interactions between functions. If I am talking to 100 oBIX servers, I may want to apply that diagnostic to every AHU attached to each of them.

Building Information Models (BIM)

In buildings, control systems operate building systems. Building systems support the various spaces in a building, whether securing them, monitoring, them, or conditioning them. The relation between a building system and spaces in a building is described in a Building Information Model (BIM). oBIX BIM contracts will describe how an oBIX server will make BIM accessible, and how to apply BIM as a semantic framework for the control points.

Enterprise Scheduling

Enterprise Scheduling applies the semantics of WS-Calendar to schedule interactions with building systems. This includes a notion of service oriented schedules instead of the control oriented schedules as today. (Example: Request room at temperature by 8:30 rather than Request room to begin heating at 8:10). This is likely to use the same semantic frameworks as security, i.e., to specify a room rather than a thermostat. Enterprise scheduling is made possible in part by the BIM framework as described above.

Security Composition

oBIX 1.0 defines a monolithic model, all or nothing, for access to points and settings. This access should be limitable by role and by organization. Advanced security contracts will define a means to define policy frameworks for secure access to oBIX servers. This is likely to be an intersection of roles, i.e., integrator, operator, tenant, guest as applied to business function. In buildings, business functions are defined by the spaces they are in. The relation between building systems and space can be found through reference to the BIM.

We will not define a mandatory set of roles, or a mandatory framework, but instead define a means to apply notions of space (say a particular tenant) and of role to access to an oBIX server. We anticipate a means to discover the roles available on a server, to map those roles into a discoverable space, i.e. BIM. This topic includes addressing federated security, and may include how to apply SAML, XACML, and similar specifications to oBIX servers.

Please contact me if you would like to join in this work.

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Reader Comments (2)


It looks like this activity fits in nicely with the LinkedIn discussion that I started in the group.

I know that you have commented on that discussion. But, I’d like to invite your committee members to join in on that discussion titled Legacy Building Automation Systems Integration to the cloud. Here is a link that will take you directly to that discussion. See As the discussion evolved I realized that I narrowed the scope of the discussion too far with the original title and that we really needed to look at Publishing Building Automation Systems Data to cloud based services, in general.

We have been receiving frequent requests for our S4 Open Appliances to act as an on-site agent for cloud-based services and I am trying to determine if there is a defacto, or formal, standard for delivering building configuration information and data to a cloud-based service. If not, are there best practices evolving that might eventually lead to standards in this area?

Thank you in advance for any ideas or comments that you can add to the discussion.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

I share Toby's view about security (who is allowed to do what to what). BAS systems are proprietary to the building owner and outsiders needs are privileges only the owner should permit access to the information. There are legal liabilities involved here that marketing seems to ignore.

I am interested in oBIX 2.0

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWinston Hetherington

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