Contractormag 9972 Timeline

Timeline of smart building automation evolution

Nov. 9, 2017
I created this Timeline of Smart Building Automation Evolution, with over a hundred events linking thousands of articles depicting our industry's history and its (sometimes) painfully slow evolution.

I created this Timeline of Smart Building Automation Evolution, with over a hundred events linking thousands of articles depicting our industry's history and its (sometimes) painfully slow evolution.

You will be amazed that some of this stuff we have been talking about for years, and how long open standards and accepted methodologies take to evolve.

As I wrote in my last column I embrace these six words, making them part of the creation and purpose of delivery of this Timeline: Agile, Adaptive, Autodidactic, Autonomous, Accepted, Actions.

Agile -  We all need to learn just what we need to know, just in time, quickly and easily. I hope that this timeline presents a method of flying over 40 plus years of smart building automation evolution quickly while allowing you to stop anywhere and drill down for more information. The main advantage of online presentation is the depth of the data that can be presented. Once you find a rabbit hole of information you wish to explore you can follow the links back to another time seeing and sensing the opinions of that time captured in the online storage of the magazine.

Adaptive - I hope that the timeline will allow you to identify quickly the things you know and do not know and drill down into information for a quick update. 

Autodidactic - We need to keep on our journey to be self-taught and create self-learning organizations. Educational resources are constantly evolving, and meanwhile most prepared educational materials are obsolete as soon as they’re compiled. This Timeline will be maintained to depict our ongoing evolution.

Autonomous - Everything needs to become more self-directed, self-sufficient and self-acting -- yes even us! I did not know how to do this DIY Timeline project but found a SaaS that easily generates a timeline with linkage. I then just needed to become a maker and mixer of the information I knew.

Accepted – It is hard to convince the entire built environment community -- diverse as it is -- of how powerful, wide-ranging and rapid the coming changes will be, but we must try. A presentation that allows a simple layered information over time is a start to understanding and acceptance of all the people's desire to educate and guide themselves through their own Personal People Powered Transformations.

Actions - So this is me providing you a DIY SaaS depiction of my understanding of our evolution. How will you change our industry? Our world?

It seemed to me that a simple timeline of our past would be useful to those new makers creating our future. Also, it may be useful for folks adapting to change and starting on the path to reinvention. Having a quick way of reviewing the past will increase understanding of why we did it, and (if needed) help us to unlearn of what we have done. Mostly the answers are in the tools that are now available, but were not at any given evolutionary.

Although the articles and links are centric, they share the thoughts of many. If they only start an open discussion of perceived opinions, then the timeline is an industry success.

The timeline spans from Pneumatic controls, Mainframe Computers, mini computers, microprocessors, Direct Digital Control (DDC), browsers, cloud control, IoT-ready devices and all the way to today's devicification.

It is not a huge leap to take all we have learned from past decades of connected devices and merge them with consumables to deliver a new generation of experiences for consumers through what we call devicification.

What is Devicification? Devicification is a shift to consumer device solution models that marry the consumable to the connected device to drive customer convenience and loyalty.

So, is our evolution done? No not even close. The pace increases rapidly; you have not seen anything yet!

Let me end this evolutionary timeline with some very insightful thoughts from our contributing editor Marc Petock and his latest article Change Agents.

“Change, you know, has a subtle quality. It comes upon you quietly. It creeps, and you continue to operate pleasantly, based on old and comfortable assumptions and premises until suddenly, change explodes opportunity in front of you. And you are totally unequipped to deal with it because your ways of thinking, your concepts, your techniques, are all geared to an age that is no more!” - Author Unknown


I would be remiss if I did not mention IoT. IoT continues as a game changer; it is changing what we are delivering -- how, when and where. However, realizing its potential starts with understanding the value and contributions it brings.  IoT is as much about behavioral changes and business opportunity, not just technology. We need to operate and manage buildings based on outcomes, not output.  IoT is not the objective of this transformation but the platform upon which to connect, collect and analyze data so we can measure and validate these outcomes. Building owners and operators should not “buy” IoT; they should purchase solutions to specific problems where IoT components are part of a solution.                                       


“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” -The Economist

Customers are looking for faster, real-time analysis of the massive amount of data produced to perform smart decision-making. We are in an era where data technologies and analytics enable us to capture data from different sources including behavioral data, make it consistent and meaningful and use it across multiple applications. When it comes to data, the data produced from a device is now more valuable than the cost of the device.  The use of data is now mandatory and no longer optional; if you aren’t collecting, storing, using, and learning from data, then you are not doing your job.

The Edge

Recently, IDC said that by next year, 40% of the data we access would be stored, processed, analyzed, and acted upon, close to, or at the edge. As I see it, this is due in part to the greater acceptance of the Internet of Things along with the availability of increased computer processing power that is now available at a lower cost. This, in turn, is enabling us to expand our reach to a range of devices that gather, analyze and react to data in a variety of applications. This combination has allowed us to move from “connected devices” to “connected devices that redistribute and process data and analytics independently at the edge.” As a result, the edge is here, and it’s is here now. Connectivity, Control, Data Access, Analytics are now being done at the edge. With more devices at the edge, comes more data that has the potential to provide enhanced insights into how we manage and operate facilities.

How will you use these words and change agents to change your world?

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