Energy Manager

COLUMN – Build Bridges not Fences

October 7, 2013 - Never before have we had to collaborate with everything to provide the correct connectivity paths in our Automatically Smart buildings. Giant pieces of our industry are being captured online in the cloud and we have neither the time nor the resources to recreate them. We simply need to find the best way to build bridges and connect and collaborate with these resources. A few examples of this are: energy data for buildings generated automatically by smart meters; demand response requests generated by utilities; Google maps street view including floor plans for large buildings, etc., all lead us to look to creating the best Mashups of available resources. Wiki defines A Mashup, in web development, is a web page, or web application, that uses content from more than one source to create a single new service.

October 7, 2013  By  Ken Sinclair

On our journey to Automatically Smart these mashups will become more important to allow us the correct connectivity collaboration for the success of our project. Evolving open source, community-based initiatives such as Haystack when overlaid on existing standards like Niagara, BACnet, EnOcean, KNX allow us to mashup real time data into new identities. We all need a head shake and a big look around to envision the scope of our new Connectivity Collaboration Camp. Also remember that connection to resources that are constantly growing and improving allows Automatically Smart to be achieved. Your mashup has information today that it did not have yesterday and will be even smarter tomorrow and you need do nothing. Focus on building bridges not our fences of the past.

On his blog, Dr. Rick Huijbregts of Business and Industry Transformation, and Smart + Connected Communities, writes:

Advanced standardization of communication protocols and the consequent rapid global adoption of IP and the Internet is moving from the information age into the networking age. The Internet provides the technical and human network to connect people with processes with data and things. As the Internet of Everything (IoE) connects the unconnected, it is expected that more than 50 billion smart objects will communicate freely over the Internet by 2020 and early indicators show us that this is a conservative estimate.

As an industry we need to change rapidly from building proprietary fences around our projects to providing connection bridges to the Internet of Everything (IoE) for our clients if we are ever to survive the rapid evolution which is now at hand.

Need a Map to those Bridges?
 Toby Considine, of TC9 Inc., has some ideas on how to do that; if systems can understand what they discover, they can integrate themselves.

Toby’s take: This month’s theme is building bridges. A bridge spans two different areas that are perhaps quite different: different land, different culture, different cities. Bridges do not join two territories into one—that would be dredging and filling. We build bridges to connect two disparate things, not too make them one. Too often, through system integration, we try to make one large thing. This is expensive, and limits future choices. It slows the adoption of new technologies. The preferred approach is light, loose integration, perhaps even self-integration. Building Bridges.

Discovery is essential to agile integration. If systems can discover each other, we do not need to map them. If systems can understand what they discover, they can integrate themselves. One of the requirements is service orientation, which hides process details to simplify interactions. I have often written about that. This month, I am writing about common semantics, about discovery, and about directory services for building systems.

In all creation myths, the first responsibility of the first man is the naming of things, i.e., defining semantics. A common semantic model is the foundation of bridges. It is not necessary for two systems to name everything that they do, just that they name aspects of the interactions. For energy interactions, OASIS EMIX names provides a high level abstraction of the semantics of energy services, both supply and consumption. Where more detailed information is desired the folksonomy Haystack provides common semantics for building automation systems. In time, systems are likely to be able to serve up Haystack semantics on request, and systems will be able to provide the appropriate bridges to service integration.

So what will happen if our industry does not Build these Bridges? Answer? Other industries will. Allan McHale, of Memoori, has some insight on this – The Impact of LED Lighting on the BEMS Industry:

There is a discussion now taking place in the Smart Building business that the transition to LED lighting may trigger a change in the way the BEMS industry works.

The rationale goes that historically, building controls applications have been HVAC-centric since that was the element of the building where controls could add significant value. In many situations the return on investment rate for HVAC-oriented building automation has not been compelling, so the majority of buildings around the world are still waiting to be converted to “Smart.” “As we go forward, the case for retrofitting buildings with LED lighting will become very compelling and with it will come a much broader application of controls.”

The key difference, though, is that these controls applications and projects will be lighting-centric rather than HVAC-centric and that will make all the difference. These lighting-centric projects will be motivated by LEDs and will naturally incorporate wireless and cloud technology. The result will be the emergence of new players, new technologies and new application delivery mechanisms. The existing industry structure and business models could easily come tumbling down.

Very pleased to have an interview in this month’s issue with an old friend forever Michael Newman and his new book about the industry’s longest bridge that he helped build. Mike is a true pioneer, tearing down fences and building bridges in our industry. This has provided us a great base to build our new bridges to the Internet of Everything (IoE).

As always our October issue is full of great articles, columns, reviews, new products, interviews and of course the steady stream of news depicting how we are building bridges and tearing down fences on our rapid evolutional journey.

Ken Sinclair is the publisher of and can be reached at

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