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Contractormag 12816 Community Connections

Connecting Creative Communities

April 25, 2019
The people and their communities have staying power—the technology does not.

I am on my road trip still praising the value of Connecting to Communities of Practice  (CoP).

Your company's total worth is based on the combined value of your people and your connections to valuable Communities of Practice. This combination defines your staying power, your growing power and the acceptance of your companies as a strategic partner.

More than ever we need to connect to existing creative communities and use them to re-educate ourselves, to grow younger with new people. At the same time we need to be constantly searching for new CoP that will update us in new industry trends and techniques. Naturally, we will also have to let go of those that have not been mutually beneficial. Of course, our core Communities will define our companies and their missions.

Our communities shape us as we shape them. When we are viewed on social media or create our Bio our connected communities paint a vivid picture while expressing our interests/understandings and the value we may add to our clients' equation.

Some communities you will want to belong to add to your credibility; to ensure that others understand that you understand their significance.  It is important to volunteer your time and effort to help shape and enhance these communities

For me, these would be Communities like: 

ASHRAE ( I am a life member. The rumor that I joined in 1894 is not true,  but I am a founding member and past president of the local chapter.

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today.

BACnet ( I am a BACnet fan and promoter since inception. Notice how BACnet is a subset of ASHRAE.

BACnet International is an industry association that facilitates the successful use of the BACnet protocol in building automation and control systems through interoperability testing, educational programs and promotional activities. BACnet International oversees the operation of the BACnet Testing Labs (BTL) and maintains a global listing of tested products. The BACnet standard was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and has been made publicly available so that manufacturers can create interoperable systems of products. BACnet International complements the work of the ASHRAE standards committee and BACnet-related interest groups around the world.

More recently Project Haystack ( I’ve been a fan and promoter since inception. BACnet now supports Haystack. Do you begin to see a pattern developing? New CoPs are often part of existing ones.

Project Haystack is an open source initiative to streamline working with data from the Internet of Things. We standardize semantic data models and web services with the goal of making it easier to unlock value from the vast quantity of data being generated by the smart devices that permeate our homes, buildings, factories, and cities. Applications include automation, control, energy, HVAC, lighting, and other environmental systems.

Does your connected community provide certification? Further education? Training? What is their value to you? Of what value are you to the community? You need to participate to gain the value and gain the feeling and respect of the community.

Keep in mind communities beget communities and the evolving splinter groups are how new CoPs evolve and how new companies are created which in turn create more CoPs and more new companies.

In addition to our core communities, we need to be part of many other communities. I belong to over 50 LinkedIn groups.

On my road trip I am connecting to communities that are hosting events. You may find some CoPs valuable additions to your virtual tool belt because of how they increase your connection (your stickiness) to your industry.

It is important to understand that the people who support our communities with their time and money help create the core values of those communities. These supporters have demonstrated that they have create a viable business out of the beliefs of the community. You need to understand their function in "the play it forward" support they provide

I will keep using myself as an example of our Community that virtually supports our online magazine,, for large building automation and allows us to provide our services free to you. Please join me in thanking Our Sponsors.

The events I will attend are all supported by members who well understand the power and purpose of supporting their community. (Click on the sponsor tab to see a complete list of who helps make this event happen.)

The PREMIUM SPONSOR defines the purpose of the event

Build what you can imagine  The Internet of Things connects billions of devices worldwide, enabling access, control and monitoring of systems from anywhere at anytime. With VYKON, you can go even further – as far as your imagination can take you. Our world-class solutions for the open Internet of Things are guided by three core principles: Open Connectivity. Open Ingenuity. Open Choice. Because the real power of the Internet of Things lies in innovation, in the potential for true end-to-end solutions built for today and adapted for tomorrow.

Look at how this sponsor (who is also one of our sponsors) connects themselves to many CoPs to better define their services.

Contemporary Controls designs and manufactures the system building blocks for networking, integrating and controlling automation processes where performance and reliability are important. Our products are built upon open technologies such as ARCNET®, BACnet®, Controller Area Network (CAN), Ethernet, Modbus®, Niagara Framework®, Sedona, and are typically found in building and industrial automation industries.

A great place for new companies to quickly become part of the event and the community.

Machine Halo: Delivering Enterprise Class Vision Services Welcome to the frontier of interconnected video utilized as a sensor. Our service platform and associated operating system deliver a portfolio of vision applications across enterprise environments. Machine Halo lives at the edge, where vision service happens instantly with up to 80% cost savings over the cloud. Machine Halo helps your camera see better, enabling your enterprise to adopt a new class of service and business intelligence.

The Event will show you how to create commerce out of community here is an article by Scott Cochrane that gives an excellent example:

Return on Investment for Smart Building Technology

Things are a changing… As we incorporate new technology into the control systems, there are new opportunities for return on investment.  We are still automating the mechanical and electrical systems for autonomous control and saving energy, but with new technology, we are also adding new features and capabilities to our control systems. Those new capabilities mean new system value to the end user that, in turn, translates into new ways for the owner to benefit financially from their technology decision(s).  Let’s dive into these new value concepts: Business Efficiency | Customer Experience | Worker Recruiting and Retention.

Business Efficiency through Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)– A goal of every business is to improve productivity.  IPS can be added to lighting, Wi-Fi, or a mix of systems along with an app or beacon to allow us to track people and assets in a building.  This new information can be utilized not just by the maintenance group, but it can help business managers make important decisions on how to utilize the space better and/or manage their teams better.

For a list of the community support for Haystack Connect go here:

See how they all build on their CoP Haystack while also building on and supporting each other? Here are a few more amazing examples:  Specifying FIN on new projects is a smart move as it helps future-proof your building or campus. This is because FIN Framework is natively based on the Haystack semantic tagging standard, which enables much better use of the data flowing from the buildings systems to improve operational & energy efficiency, space utilization and employee productivity to maximize the return on the investment. Click here for more about Project Haystack.

SkySpark Analytics automatically analyzes data from smart devices and equipment systems to identify issues, faults, deviations, and anomalies enabling improved performance, reduced downtime, and operational savings

Intellastar IoT Technology for Smart Buildings and Smart Grids is built on the SkyFoundry SkySpark V3 Everywhere software platform and uses the Haystack Tagging and Data Model

Lynxspring embraces open software and hardware and multi-vendor interoperability from the edge to the enterprise. The result is multi-vendor supported automation systems with real-time enterprise integration into one single, scalable, extensible platform solution enabling users to manage and operate facilities and equipment smarter, safer, more efficiently, and at peak performance levels.

Altura is pioneering the integration of engineering, controls, and analytics services from strategy through implementation and optimization.

This article from Zack Nestov, Product Specialist for Contemporary Controls, showcases some great connection communities:

Raspberry Pi based BAS controllers reach the cloud, open minds, and infinite possibilities provide Azure cloud connectivity out of the box. The Azure cloud gives users great flexibility and ease of setup in their “IoT Central” portal. Provisioning the BASpi in Azure IoT Central is very simple and straight forward, even kids can do it. Be sure to catch our BASpi presentation in the General Session & Pitchfest track – “BAS Controller With Haystack Powered by Raspberry Pi”. See you there!

This Australian company, Conserve It, used a CoP to create this product, a lightweight yet informative HTML5 user experience:

Using a standard naming convention defined by the haystack tags. These tags are also referred to as semantic tags or meta data tags and were developed and agreed upon by the Project Haystack community, where Conserve It is a founding member.

Can events we attend unhinge our minds and open our thoughts to change? Definitely! If the above isn’t proof enough, check out this event which has an amazing amount of supporters,

I am working hard to get up to ramp speed so I am not road kill when I merge with these conferences.

I went to each of the exhibitors' website listed at the above links to try and understand their play. My conclusion? A future proof building now needs a strong wireless network that is 5G capable... we now buy and own the network cable.  Why would we not want to own the airspace?

Are we at the point where we need to stop specifying wired Ethernet/IP networks? Will we force all suppliers to provide wireless connections only?

This may shed more doubt on POE as a viable solution. Low Voltage power would come from the nearest LED light fixtures. IP network will be wireless everywhere. This is a serious head shake.

This article from Mike Horinko, President of Airwavz Solutions, is worth a read on wireless ways:

Today, the vast majority of commercial buildings tend to lack this infrastructure and the reason has largely been due to cost. Owner-funded solutions are expensive capital outlays and often unreliable. Carrier-funded solutions are a rarity and do nothing to ensure multiple carriers are supported inside the building. Airwavz set out early to figure out how to reduce costs and get all carriers connected.

This is still going to be a big issue. I don't know that the value proposition for all this is clear. I'm not sure we get why we should "own the air.” The sheer number of products on the exhibit floor that lean heavily on a wireless may contain the critical ROI answer.

At the Realcomm Event, I am a moderator of this panel discussion, Autonomous Interactions  - Integrating the OCCUPANT EXPERIENCE into Smart Buildings, as well as this session, Connecting to the Enterprise - The Fast-Changing World of HVAC.

The wireless way is a big part of both discussions. OEM connections, wayfinding and the value of location services are all now a part of the wireless network. Will future-proofed large buildings control their airspace, wireless signals and approval of all wireless hardware that is allowed in them? I think the answer is “yes.”

This raises the important issue—discussed in this article from— of IoT Standards: The End Game

IoT Standards – The End Game Quite regularly I get the question: With all these standards around, what should I choose? Zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth Mesh, or Wi-Fi? Or maybe LoRa? Or is it better to wait for 5G and NB-IoT?

Of course, these questions create confusion and slow down the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT). Part of this confusion is because it isn’t always clear what standards are suitable, as shown in the figure below. In addition, marketers make unsubstantiated claims about new standard capabilities like latency (“in the milliseconds!”), as if that’s really important. Not so. Most applications can deal with a latency of seconds; even live TV delayed a few seconds is still live TV.

So, how does one answer the question, “What standard should be used?” Usually, I answer this question with, “How can you make money?” Typically, the determining factor isn’t the radio standard. For radio, most apply “good enough is good enough,” and making money is determined by the value created by the application that runs over wireless. Wireless is just wireless like a wire is just a wire.

And keep in mind: Whatever wireless standard is leading the pack today, in 5-10 years things will have changed anyway, so upgrading your network will be important. But waiting for “the final and ultimate” wireless networking technology will take a long time.

Beyond this are the new implications of LiFi Technology, which gets a rundown in this article from

LiFi is a wireless technology holds the key to solving challenges faced by 5G. LiFi can transmit at multiple gigabits, is more reliable, virtually interference free and uniquely more secure than radio technology such as Wi-Fi or cellular.

I am always on the edge of real and unreal. I mean, is all of this actually happening? How much is hype and theory, and how much is possible, practicable? It seems a lot to absorb.

In 1975 trying to get my mind around the fact that computers (something I knew nothing about) would replace my pneumatic industries was an unreal. The cost per point was 10 times! How could it possibly make sense? Ten years later DDC becomes cheaper than pneumatics. Think that Edison guy did that before with light bulbs and candles.

Why are there so many folks at Realcomm selling these solutions?  Someone must be buying?

If you find my writing and thinking out loud annoying now, just wait till I come back from these three conferences armed with evolving facts that do not fit our “real world!”

I’m not sure the cost is as high as one might think. Buildings are spending a lot on DAS just to keep cell phones working. This is just an incremental add to the next digital transformation.

This wireless infrastructure expansion will likely be done independently of our wired networks. In the past, there was dollar savings by putting our IP networks on the IP building wired network backbone; this is just the next step. Our new stuff will share the air with cell phones providing a new a mashup of location services and indoor navigation on the edge.

5G will come at no cost to us just like 4G 3G LTE did, but it is not just next speed improvement; it may prove faster than wire but it still needs to connect to fiber to be useful.

As the old controllers failed they would be replaced with the new low-cost breed of edge controls which are wireless by design. Once this starts happening all over again, the traditional DDC folks will magically offer you low-cost wireless solutions. In fact, I believe they all have solutions, you just need to hold their feet to the fire to make them use them. It is sort like how the majors dragged their feet when moving from propitiatory to open BACnet.

The wire-pullers are going to resist the “wireless everything” concept hard by touting POE as their solution. But if IP networks move to wireless, all the devices can tap power from the closest LED light fixture.

The battle of what is above the ceiling is evolving daily as we move from high voltage to low voltage lighting and to wireless networks. I keep thinking about all those compact fluorescent bulbs. As an energy consultant before I recommended them to replace Edison's incandescent bulbs. My reason? To match the reality of the day. LED had not quite been invented yet and the cost was too high.

Now those reasons seem like lame excuses, because I knew those changes would come. If we had abandoned the compact fluorescent earlier the new technology would have come faster and prices would have dropped sooner.

Sometimes we need to push the envelope and ask "What is Reality?” Will this for sure happen? Do I need to invest in future proofing?

The other thought is replacing today's wireless with the newest-greatest-future wireless will be an easy upgrade, but replacing the wired infrastructure will always have a higher cost and cause greater building disruption. What if traditional IP networks disappear? Then tradition networks become an expensive way to carry LV power to devices.

Ultimately, I feel POE will go the route of the low voltage power T-Bar ceiling grids. LED lights with their low voltage requirements made the grid part of device. There are just not enough competitors making the technology too expensive and not flexible enough. Open, flexible solutions are required.

If you are sensing Desirable Delightful Diverting Disruption you have not seen anything yet. This article from Virgin’s Richard Branson pointed at our industry shows how quickly change can and must occur.

Another industry that has caught my eye recently is particularly ripe for disruption.

It represents a 100 billion dollar market today, and is set to grow to nearly four times that size by 2050. It is based on a technology that has not fundamentally changed since its invention (or rather, accidental discovery) over 100 years ago. A handful of companies dominate the channels to market, and generally spend far more on advertising than they do on R&D. It produces something critical to people’s health and productivity (especially in the developing world) that are also going to consume as much electricity as the entire US, Germany, and Japan do today - combined. And, most critically critically, those widgets are going to account for 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century - assuming business-as-usual.

Why did this disruptive wireless discussion with myself appear in my article about Connecting Creative Communities?

Major Community of Practice wars play out at these events all the time. It important to hear all sides so you can make the correct decisions for your application and to plan your future.

Build your company identity with your core CoP. Hire your people based on their autodidactic job crafting abilities. Hire people willing embrace and influence a variety of Communities. Hire folks that have different CoPs than your core ones to build a strong mosaic of interests and skills. Moving forward, you will probably want to hire someone because of their close connection to and knowledge of one or more creative communities.

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