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Recalibrate for 2020 Vision

June 27, 2019
History of the past is very important if we want to recalibrate anything—be it a system or ourselves.

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We need to recalibrate while preparing for the next decade, 2020, when we said the world would change. It will, but we need to make it happen.

I just returned from an extremely successful Realcomm Conference in Nashville in which Recalibrate was the theme. I learned a lot and I am still convinced that we are Becoming the Internet of Things and that most of what we do not know revolves around our evolving new identities as walking and talking IoT.

My many years in the building automation industry has taught me that a history of the past is very important if we want to recalibrate anything—be it a system or ourselves. Systems (and people can be seen as highly complex systems) gradually drift off course so that the navigator periodically needs a fresh point of reference to recalibrate the navigation system.

With a plethora of enterprise software platforms and new connection standards like 5G CBRS presented at the event, I was reminded of the early dot-com days of radical change. Can so many platforms exist without dot-crashing? Hard to say. These platforms require an amazing community surrounding them to be successful (and often the community has more value than the platform). Maybe a better way to view each platform is as a community of practice (COP). It is not the platforms but the people that bring the solutions and structure and never before seen features. When they are removed value of the platform plumets

Here's a YouTube video featuring AutomatedBuildings.com's Contributing Editor Therese Sullivan as Mike Westerfield of Tridium connected each one of a series of logos to a 'Community of Practice.' 

He went a step further than my own thinking had evolved on this CoP concept. Also, he built his narrative around the idea that it is these CoPs that keep evolving the technology that makes buildings 'living, breathing'. He pointed out...there are personalities .. PEOPLE... to associate with each of those logos. Internally at Tridium, we have people assigned to nurturing those relationships...getting our stuff on their test beds, getting those stamps on our software, co-marketing/campaigning about those stamps. Maybe you have time to listen to Mike Westerfield elaborate

He even talks about how Microsoft Azure and Niagara will connect through a new driver developed by MSFT and about to be released as Open Source.

All the successful platforms were created from the success of people—a COP—working closely with owners to solve problems, all focused on the creation of the platform. The platform value is in its COP of creation, not the technology (in my humble opinion).

AutomatedBuildings.com, our online magazine, is going into our 21st year. Just like Realcomm/IBcon, we started in the days of the dot-com boom. We are both reminded about the fervor of those early days, and we feel it is again in the air. Realcomm's call to recalibrate using knowledge of the past is a timely message.

Our startup article of over 20 years ago points to the power of dot-com. The article, which is still online in its original format, demonstrates and confirms the ability of something like HTML on a virtual server to make and preserve history.

Your Building Address as a .com?  Is an article by Yours Truly from way back May of 1999. The concept of a large building as an internet identity with its own web address is now the latest step in presenting and managing your Automated Buildings. Key quote:

We have selected this article to be in our first launch issue because we think it sends us all a wake-up call as to how significant the internet is going to be in the future. Our site is aimed at the Automation of Buildings and integration with the internet will become just another step.

What echoes are there in this 20-year-old article of today's recalibration? Building-as-website has evolved to enterprise-as-platform, of which we now have an increasing number of choices with ease of access to nearly all data.

The concept of Building-as-ISP (Internet Service Provider) was not as strong a dot-com trend (as suggested by the article) but is now being revisited with 5G & CBRS being deployed by building owners as their own ISP service and, when connected to fibre, can provide fast wireless internet with the added value of location-based services.

The direct digital control DDC microprocessors have now evolved as extremely low cost fully functional microcomputer edge devices with 5G connections, extremely low-cost storage, and AI-powered, location-based services that allow for self-learning. Again from 1999:

More leading-edge features could be access to real time temperatures and IAQ data, virtual thermostats and lighting interfaces. The high-speed inter-panel communication requirements for the building’s DDC system could use this same Intranet network using either TCP/IP, BACnet, LonTalk or custom protocol.

This is now all part of the Enterprise Platform. TCP/IP and BACnet have stood the test of time and are still present.

I find it interesting that in this 20-year window we are not talking about a radical change in the industry, just a recalibration coupled with new delivery trends.

5G & CBRS Network Architecture

CBRS is known as Citizen broadband radio service, It is a 150 MHz wide broadcast band in 3.5 GHz band starting from 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz. In 2017, the FCC completed a process to establish rules for commercial use of this band. Commercializing this band enables Service Providers/Wireless Operators to use it without acquiring frequency licenses. CBRS frequency spectrum shall help 4G/5G mobile networks deployment quicker and easier. CBRS band is also referred to as 3.5 GHz band.

It seems funny that the latest 5G tech is using the CB band to exchange information. Finally, something in all that IoT mumble jumble we can understand! Here is a fun poke at how these communications would have happened in CB talk 20 years ago:

Breaker, Breaker, Enterprise to Shady Guy "the window shade" Have you got your ears on?” “What's your 20?” can you move to a 50% position?  ....Shady guy Yes that's a big 10-4 good buddy.

We are guessing that they might not use the channel as it was originally used in the past, but the connection of G5 to fibre in the building by the owner who then sells this in building services to existing service providers with the new reach of CBRS in-building and even near-building does conjure up a vision of change.

According to Dailywireless.org, 5G connections in North America in 2019 will be around 4 million, and that is expected to grow to over 400 million by 2025 (FierceWireless; CCS Insight, 2018).

A lot of info on G5 at Realcomm event. From their web site:

Join DASpedia’s 5G Congress to learn about technical and economic implications for the Commercial and Corporate Real Estate and Facilities industries. Engage in discussions with cellular wireless industry professionals and experts involved in designing and deploying 5G, CBRS and other wireless network technologies.

New this year, the Realcomm | IBcon 5G & In-Building Wireless Pavilion will feature the top 25 vendors that are focused on bringing in-building wireless solutions to the Commercial and Corporate Real Estate market. This includes manufacturers, integrators, service providers, consultants and others. With 5G, CBRS and other in-building wireless technologies in a position to radically change building communication strategies, this Pavilion will be the best place to start your in-building wireless journey.

This year’s program will dedicate an entire track specifically focused on 5G, CBRS and other in-building wireless technologies. It will feature industry speakers who are at the forefront of these emerging topics. Sessions (subject to change) are:
•     An Introduction to 5G & CBRS – Getting Ready for the Revolution
•     CBRS and Private LTE Trials – EARLY ADOPTERS Report
•     802.11, DAS and More – Assessing Today’s IN-BUILDING WIRELESS Landscape
•     A New Opportunity for Owners – MONETIZING In-Building Wireless Platforms
•     A High Priority – Improving Cellular and Radio Coverage Inside Buildings for PUBLIC SAFETY


Microsoft had a large presence

I attended a briefing where we were advised the Window division of Microsoft has finally been shut down. Good! The end of an era and the end of licensing software in empty cardboard boxes and a transition to providing software as a service from the cloud. From the briefing description:

MICROSOFT EXECUTIVE BRIEFING – An IoT Platform for Experiencing and Managing Commercial Real Estate

The term 'smart building' was coined in the 1980s after networking and connectivity changed what could be done in the built environment. Today that term is taking on new meaning, driven by growing possibilities for a new, more elevated idea of 'smart'. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have great potential to help building owners, operators, and occupants manage and dwell in buildings with greater efficiency—saving costs and energy, and organizing space in a way that best fits a company’s culture and goals. Microsoft's goal is to empower every customer to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions. This session will show how to seize opportunities and overcome challenges when embracing digital transformation for your buildings and businesses.

This article, Accelerating smart building solutions with cloud, AI, and IoT posted on the Microsoft, Azure blog June 13, 2019 by Matthew Vogel Senior Program Manager, Azure IoT discusss the company's involvement:

This year we’ve returned to Realcomm | IBcon, joined by over 30 partners who have delivered innovative solutions using our spatial intelligence and device security services to provide safety to construction sites, operate buildings more efficiently, utilize space more effectively, and boost occupant productivity and satisfaction. Here we’ll tell you more about a selection of these smart building partners who are accelerating digital transformation in their industries.

When Microsoft embarked on a renovation of its Amsterdam headquarters, the software giant adopted a data-driven approach (from www.raconteur.net):

Microsoft opened its renovated Outlook building last October. Data gathered before the renovation led to a 25 percent reduction in the amount of space required and one-and-a-half newly available floors of the building were let to a co-working operator.

Employees now use an app to locate colleagues and book a wide range of workspaces, including and silent zones. Sensors measure occupancy, temperature, humidity, light and noise levels. Mr Williams says: “We’ve completely redesigned the way we work.”

My speaking partner at Realcom/IBcon, Joseph Aamidor, Senior Product Management Consultant / Managing Director
Aamidor Consulting provided this wisdom in his review of the event:

Many real estate firms are hiring senior IT leaders to focus on building and real estate technology. This may accelerate the IT/OT (information technology / operational technology) convergence. This also will help vendors identify the right target for their sales efforts and may expedite the budgeting process for new technology investments. We spoke with a few of these IT leaders who recently moved from other technology projects at their firms. One common opinion: a lot of building technology could be modernized.

My session with Joseph, Connecting to the Enterprise – The Fast-Changing World of HVAC went well. But out of the resulting conversation came the strong sense that the connection and need for data and our new focus on the User Experience is moving industry to compartmentalized thinking rather than central systems.

Check out the Realcomm YouTube page. There’s an amazing amount of industry thought here, and a good view of the width as well as the depth of this conference.

Here are even more video links for readers who want to take a deep dive:

In this video, Brain Turner and Scott Cochrane join conversations around the emergence and intersection of IT, OT, and  IOT in Smart Buildings.

Here, Leon Wurfel of BUENO Global Perspectives offers a fun take on the evolution of data driven operations.

Video from the Smart Buildings Integrator Summit — Huge Focus on the Master Systems Integrator by Eric Stromquist.  Conversation included how owners are profiling Smart Building Controls Master System Integrators, and how they are learning to specify the MSI role before the project is bid to protect their Smart Buildings interests.  It is a must watch for anyone wanting to be successful in today’s evolving building automation market. I was the moderator for part of the summit, Autonomous Interactions – Integrating the OCCUPANT EXPERIENCE into Smart Buildings.

More interviews about the event on the ControlTrends website.

These links not from the Realcomm/IBcon event are worthy of your consideration as you embark upon your own recalibration:

Can your "Smart IoT" building achieve JLL's latest 3:30:300:3000 rule?  On LinkedIn’s Niagra forum, written by Mike Welch, Founder at ELITE-IoT. This is discussing the addition of the “3000” to JLL’s now very familiar and globally referenced 3:30:300 rule, representing "cost of energy:cost of space:cost of employee" per unit area of floor space.

The “3000” figure relates to the unexpected benefits of highly interconnected building systems and their devices and sensors in delivering device level value data that can be turned into incredibly valuable real-time business operations data. This is a combination of space utilisation information plus productivity data set against a given set of environmental conditions, heat, quality of light, air quality, ease of space control and use, furnishing, social interaction and more.

In this great article by Sudha Jamthe, IoT Disruptions CEO, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Data Business, she makes the point that if you exchange the word Vehicle/car with building it, speaks well to the present transformation that is occurring in our connected smart building industry. Our industry is on a journey towards Automated Intelligence and that, for now, is the AI we are talking about, along with it's interlocking AI, Autonomous Interaction. Our industry needs to understand better Connected and Autonomous Vehicle/Building Data Business. Another part of our recalibration for 2020 vision.

Low-code development platforms by Charles Araujo, writing on the Intellyx site, discusses the power and flexibility that modern low-code platforms bring to the table. They enable organizations to realize the benefits they have always sought, but with the advantage of being able to create and change applications more rapidly, and to engage non-coders in the development process.

It’s an enticing promise that is winning converts across the enterprise spectrum — particularly as these platforms demonstrate that they can meet ever-more-complex and intricate needs.

As I send this next chapter off as part of our never-ending story, articles and interviews are rolling in for our July issue of AutomatedBuildings.com.

We hope the above thoughts and linked resources will help you recalibrate for 2020 vision.

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