InBuilding - Volume 2, Issue 1 - 8
to have an expert level of understanding of it. Even then, that only
allows a client application to talk
to a facility. When multiple facilities are involved, this quickly gets
a lot more complex. In this regard,
IoT can provide some significant
benefits because its concept is to
enable very secure communications between multiple entities.
CENTRAL AND MULTIPLE
Consider a property management
company that operates multiple
facilities, perhaps even in multiple
cities. They have a centralized
server that runs their applications
and makes use of IoT principles to
communicate to each facility. Maybe they want to gather operating
information like average temperatures and run-times. Maybe they
also want to gather historical trend
data. The point is that the applications are centralized, although the
physical facilities are remote.
To make this work, somehow they need to "convert" the
BACnet-based information from
each facility into a form that can
be conveyed using IoT principles.
This is where edge controllers
come in. These are physical devices located in the facility "at the
edge." They connect to the BAS
BACnet network to communicate
with actual BAS devices and gather information, or perhaps relay
control objectives like energy reduction levels. The edge controller
also connects to the internet and
establishes communication with
the applications in a central server.
This same strategy works when
there are multiple facilities and
multiple clients are interacting
with the same cloud server. All
kinds of applications are possi8 inbuilding-magazine.com Volume 2, Issue 1
ble, such as cloud server-based
applications that can do complex
activities such as data mining without requiring heavy-duty server
hardware local to each facility.
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
That's the "promise" for IoT for
buildings: leveraging the power
of large centralized computing
and ubiquitous internet access to
provide a rich over-layer for monitoring and operating facilities. But
just how do those dashed red lines
work, and who is standardizing
how edge controllers and applications interact?
As a new concept, IoT is already
bumping into something that
BACnet has known for decades.
Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple initial
alumni team and BeOS co-founder, describes what he calls the
"basket of remotes" problem. He
predicts we'll have hundreds of
applications to interface with thousands of devices that don't share
protocols to communicate, like the
remotes for our TVs, cable boxes
and so forth.
In contrast, BACnet devices
overwhelmingly use standardized
methods, objects and procedures.
Manufacturers agree voluntarily
to use these standards, and there
is a consensus-based standards organization (ASHRAE) and highly
organized process for changes and
revisions, and it is not pay-for-play.
"New technology leaders are