InBuilding - Volume 2, Issue 1 - 9
INTERNET OF THINGS
joining forces to create standards
for communication between devices," notes a detailed Wikipedia article. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
are becoming more conscious of
this problem, and many companies
have begun releasing their devices
with open APIs. Many of these
APIs are used by smaller companies looking to take advantage of
This points out three major obstacles for IoT, at least in the BAS
1. The "new technology leaders" aren't manufacturers
providing core products in use
in facilities. That's a problem
because those are the compa-
nies that must be the adopters for IoT to achieve any
purchase in BAS. Otherwise,
you'll need to have "converters" (gateways) between
every kind of proprietary
IoT mechanism and actual
standards like BACnet. They
are also reinventing the wheel,
but without the 30 years
of experience that existing
BAS manufacturers have in
developing and deploying and
using BACnet. Good luck.
2. Having an "open API"
doesn't help. We learned this
over and over with BACnet.
If it isn't a standard, where
changes are controlled by a
consensus process, then it's
always going to be dominated
by the 800-pound gorilla with
the most money. Or each fad
is going to go away along with
your investment in products.
3. Quick integration is another
promise, but may not be so
easy in reality. Smaller firms
can be nimble but are easily
overwhelmed by changes in
direction and technology.
Adoption is more important
than openness, although they
aren't mutually exclusive. Unlike
cell phones that seem to change
features almost quarterly, controls
in buildings have a long life. BAS
owners and managers need to be
careful about any technology that
narrows their scope of flexibility
once they buy into it.
I'm not saying that IoT purveyors have evil intent, let alone
an organized one. But unless the
solution has widespread adoption,
you could find yourself locked in
to particular manufacturers.
It doesn't help that the BAS
industry has a long history of exploitation of customers in exactly
this way. A lot of companies are
throwing around words like IoT as
if that meant that the "things" are
standardized as well as how they
talk to each other and what they
can say. They're not.
NOT GOING ANYWHERE
So what are the key messages
about IoT applications for BAS?
* BACnet is going to be with us
for a very long time, and it's
already evolving in a successful
and proven way.
* It's critical to embrace change
that's true-world community-oriented and not serving a
few special interests.
* It's important to break the lock
of outdated traditions that
have long empowered abuses
of owners and managers and
even designers/appliers of BAS
technologies, and to not repeat
these sad lessons with IoT.
* An enormous bounty of information available from BAS
devices should be put to use.
* IoT is enabling technologies
that are force multipliers that
are changing the landscape.
* IoT companies should stop
wasting time on "open APIs"
and instead join the already
open effort in BACnet to
evolve IoT mechanisms that
are part of the standard.
David Fisher is president of PolarSoft Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company that specializes in BACnet
software, tools and education. Fisher has been
very active in the development of the ANSI/ASHRAE
standard BACnet since 1987, and has authored many
BACnet products, tutorials and articles and made
significant contributions to the BACnet standard. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an
edited version of an article of his that first appeared at
Volume 2, Issue 1 inbuilding-magazine.com 9