One of the drivers for innovation we hear about when talking with clients about IoT is the breaking down of existing informational or functional silos within an organisation. However the client often still has a vision that ends in a silo, just an enterprise wide one. When you look at IoT use cases you realise that breaking the silos needs to happen externally as well as internally for IoT to really start to flourish. You need to share the data!

For an example we can all relate to, look at car servicing. Many new cars these days have telemetry built in which reports back key parameters on usage and others that allow the manufacturer to adjust service intervals and ensure that the right parts are in stock when a car is booked in for a service. This is great when your new car is under warranty, but what happens when it is 5 years old and you want to use the independent dealer down the road who costs half as much? The manufacturer holds the telemetry data, even though you own the car.

So what about the data silos in offices and buildings?

Now imagine you work for a company providing facilities management for office buildings in the IoT future. Your elevators have telemetry units from the elevator manufacturer, the air conditioning has telemetry units from its manufacturer and you have a BMS (building management system) that monitors the building. You agreed to the installation of the telemetry units as you get a reduced cost maintenance contract, but what you want is a single view of all of the buildings that you manage to enable you to make key strategic decisions.

This is where the problem starts. Each building you manage has equipment from different suppliers, including BMS. But other than lifts and air conditioning you use a single company for your maintenance contract. They, like the independent garage can service all the different equipment, but without the insights from the data being gathered they don’t know the priorities and you cannot act easily on your data. You have a portal to the elevator manufacturer which tells you useful information but you have to logon. Your BMS gives you measurements and alarms, but you have to be on site to access that. You are being hampered by silos.

So what can you do if silos are hampering your own insight creation?

What is needed is a way for the information to be shared so that you have access to the data required to generate your own insights and also share those insights with others. You are managing the building so the data is yours! The first step is to ensure you are gathering everything that you can from your existing BMS. If the BMS provider offers monitoring as a service, get them to share this data so you can perform your own analytics. If you can’t currently get data remotely from BMS, perhaps it’s time to upgrade. The next step is to get direct access to the data from any systems installed to provide maintenance data (your lift manufacturer). Unlike your car, as you negotiate the service contracts you are in a strong position to get this.

Once you have this data then you can really start to generate insights, both within a building and between buildings. For example your BMS tells you what is happening right now, but not what will happen. But by analysis of historical readings with other inputs real insights can be gathered. Just because the air chiller reports it is working, it doesn’t mean the building is at optimal efficiency, but combining chiller data with other building data will let you know where the inefficiencies are and how to address them.

Once you’ve captured your data…share it back out!

The next stage on from this is to share some of the insights back out. Traditionally insights are used as a bargaining tool with suppliers, but when you are sharing, there is mutual benefit and all gain. In the competitive world of maintenance contracts, your supplier will generally welcome a reduction in false call outs and only need to come when there is real work to be done. To use the car analogy again, you would not take your car to the main dealer because the tyre pressure monitor was warning you to pump up your front tyres. Likewise you do not want to call out the chiller maintenance team when in fact your problem is a loose duct that your local maintenance team can fix.

Our vision of the connected, insight driven building

The figure above shows how things would connect in a view where data was shared. The new development is the ‘smart building monitor’ which sits above all the other systems and manages the collection, insight generation and sharing of the insights. The platform and its insights are controlled by the building owner and their facilities management team. Existing communications stay the same (fault ticket systems, help desk etc) but a new layer of shared insights is created to help drive efficiencies and improved user experience.

How IoT is helping is delivering the building of the future…today

Our IoT Partners, Microsoft provide a real-life example of how this innovative thinking can improve efficiencies and save money: Microsoft’s team, led by Darrell Smith, Director of Facilities Operations and Energy reduced the energy cost by more than £ 1.2M at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. RoI in less than 18 months and the ability to manage 48% of the faults within 60 seconds – “The smart buildings are contributing to improving the productivity of engineers, FM team, and the general employee experience,"

Share your views and thoughts with us on the IoT enabled building of the future…

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