Consider Building Automation Systems When Angling to Satisfy a Client’s Hunger for Data

Learn about the latest developments surrounding building automation systems and services.

Wringing out waste and realizing cost savings are chief concerns for organizations across the commercial/industrial market landscape. From rising costs for resources such as fuel, electricity and staffing to strict facility management budgets and compliance requirements, there are challenges aplenty to maintaining sound operational footing.

Advances in the building automation systems (BAS) are increasingly being leveraged to help end users solve or mitigate these and many other pain points common to facility management. Previously the centralized control of a building’s HVAC, lighting and other systems required highly specialized hardware, software and training, whereas today more of these systems are migrating to IP technology. Some have even extended to open protocols.

The IP environment allows owners and managers to take advantage of existing network infrastructure to create a common pipe for multiple systems and equipment to connect within a single building. This affords multisite building owners a standard IP backbone to tie more than one location together and provide centralized control and monitoring of the entire operation. Moreover, buildings are becoming not only energy-intensive, but also information-intensive. Data mining is an emerging powerful technique with great potential to discover hidden knowledge in large data sets.

RELATED: Keys to the Commercial Automation Market

To learn more about the latest developments surrounding these systems and services, SSI interviewed a subject matter expert from a leading BAS provider. And while we’re on the subject of data mining, a technologist from Stanley Security provides an application example to illustrate the wealth of opportunity for security providers to help retail clients achieve operational efficiencies by analyzing data generated by their security systems.

Analyzing Data From Smart Devices

As Roy Hoffman, president of Sanford, Fla.-based MC² Inc., explains it modern-day building automation was born from the energy management systems of the 1970s. The drive toward tomorrow’s fully integrated BAS, he says, will be fueled by the need to provide building owners with the almighty return on investment (ROI) to justify the cost of the installation.

RELATED: Mining Security Data for Operational Efficiencies

MC² specializes in facility automation with extensive experience in direct digital controls, energy management, HVAC, along with security and fire/life-safety systems. The company is leveraging its expertise to apply smart devices and other equipment to gather data in the context of a BAS.

“As long as you are connected and receiving information you can now mine that data providing you have a place to store it,” he says.

Data streams generated within a BAS are commonly sent into a SQL or Oracle database. From that point other applications are applied to the stored data to pull in information that can be analyzed. “You will hear terms now called ‘building analytics,'” says Hoffman, “which takes that collected or mined data and puts it together in a formula to answer, ‘Is my building performing the way it should be? Is my air conditioning equipment working the way it is supposed to or the most efficient way that it was originally designed? That data, if you use it, is very valuable.”

When deploying a BAS, Hoffman’s team will work closely with the client’s IT department within all facilities. MC²’s methodology is to put application devices onto the client’s existing servers and hardware.

“We are going out to the IT back-bones and connecting to smart devices, whether it be IP controllers or temperature sensors or whatever it might be,” Hoffman explains. “We are bringing that information back and then we are off-loading it onto their SQL or Oracle databases. If we have analytics we can go back to that database, pull the information and manipulate it to understand why it’s doing what it’s doing.”

About the Author

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Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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