Control & Automation
COLUMN – Collaborating Mobile and Leveraging the Cloud
February 4, 2014 - Mobile Collaboration that leverages the power of the cloud, coupled with Bring Your Own Device “BYOD” is our newest do all power tool. Often in the presence of our legacy laptops we still reach for this handy mobile tool that seems to carry out our wishes quicker with a much more personalized interface. The millions of hours of development of mobile devices with the feedback of millions of users balancing device and cloud power is starting to show that its real collaborated power is greater than either device or cloud.
By Ken Sinclair
As I speak to my phone my words for this editorial are clouded and converted to virtual text. An option exists to convert this text to any other language. Voice commands allow many common functions to be requested and carried out in a device cloud collaboration. Very powerful stuff that evolves daily!
I just returned from a very successful cold and snowy AHRExpo 2014, New York which according to Show organizer International Exposition Company, a total of over 61,000 attendees (42,991 visitors and 18,219 exhibitor personnel) registered. Everyone was focusing on collaboration with all the available evolving technologies. The event itself highlighted the importance of the mobility piece. The ability to easily navigate the AHRExpo show and ASHRAE meeting with two separate apps on your phone was a clear demonstration that our collaborated capabilities need to be mobile anywhere anytime. The correct balance of what was on the cloud server and what was on your device became very apparent.
Mobile Collaboration with everything is building faster, stronger, cell and Wi-Fi networks. In most buildings, campus, cities; etc. we are seldom without one or the other and for most of the time we have both and even several flavours of each. We expect this.
Since these wireless networks are designed for peak traffic times, they like our electrical grid, have amazing spare capacity during off peak. If we view data as a utility, which we should, opportunities exist to utilize this resource off peak capacity to move our data at low cost without increasing infrastructure by adding physical wires.
In this article, Mobile Network Operators (MNO) & Building Automation, Therese Sullivan of www.buildingcontext.me noted:
Carriers have pushed into new businesses like cellular M2M (machine-to-machine) networking services, in part to compensate for the business revenue they’ve lost to Internet companies providing instant messaging and voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) calling for free. The business case in M2M for the MNO is easy to make: they might only be able to charge pennies per connection for an M2M deployment—compared to an Average Revenue Per Connection of up to $50 for person-to-person—but, the high volume of connections and low bandwidth requirements justify their costs in maintaining the back-end system for application development partners. That’s how it has worked in the industrial verticals the MNOs have targeted thus far like utilities, transportation, automotive and consumer electronics. Building automation is next.
Followed by this:
A game changing product that exemplifies such a partnership is Intellastar’s portal services and the InferStack IoT software suite bundled with a family of Intellastar platforms. Debuting at last month’s AHR Conference in New York City, Intellastar (formally SMARTCom) is offering remote commissioning and monitoring of a BAS system based on competitively priced data plans that leverage the global M2M cellular networks of partners like Verizon Wireless and Vodafone. The InferStack IoT software suite is designed to monitor and control heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), energy, lighting, video security, fire, and other functions, for a single building or a whole campus/enterprise. Intellastar’s VPN portal service allows its customers to host their own VPN for real-time management of their cellular resources (modems and data plans). Intellastar also provides flexible plans where a typical systems integrator can roll multiple years of cellular coverage into a single payment to make budgeting for projects simpler to quote.
The use of cell networks was a growing trend on the exhibit floor, but I sense our understanding of this powerful resource is well behind our faint grasp and underachievement of implementation of smart electrical grid. Almost every exhibit showed how the products or service could interact with Mobile Collaboration.
Our Education sessions in New York were well attended and the Collaboration in our Connected Community meeting was amazing. I was extremely impressed with the clarity and conciseness of all our thought leaders and the fact that very quickly the audience got involved in providing questions and interactions. I was very pleased that we quickly achieved the intended spirit of collaboration.
The folks from Controltrends videoed the complete session, a truly amazing production, thank you Controltrends. Be sure to read our review of this meeting and watch the video.
The power of mobile builds on how easy we can populate the cloud and this article provides insight to how easy that can be A Cloud Data Collection Platform for All by Rav Panchalingam of Bitpool.
Some people just want the burger, without the fries and fancy toy.
I believe Marc Petock hit the head on the nail in his last article for January 2014 edition. Buzz words like ‘cloud’, ‘big data’, and ‘infographics’ has opened the floodgates for a swarm of new software into the Energy Management space, many of which market themselves well, but don’t quite meet the target of completing the circle and adding value back to the end-user. 2014 will be the year the mist begins to fade and we’ll begin to more distinctly recognise products in the market that do more than just stimulate your interest based on hype and pretty charts. They should actually, quantifiably, save you money on running your building.
Here are a few of my own observations of what’s happening in the industry right now:
• The software geeks (and I can say that because I am one) are on an all-time high coming off the news of recent Google acquisition of Nest. This means more and more silicon valley startups on a quest to ‘change the world of thermal comfort’ but don’t know what a chiller is
• The automation guys are getting concerned and, let’s face it, providing pushback to the idea of things being taken out of the scope of their control. Do they need to learn HTML5 before they can program the central plant?
• The automation companies are hiring software development teams in India to ensure they don’t get left behind, and of course the more programmers you throw at a software project the better it will be, right.
• The IT guys see an even greater opportunity to be a pain-in-the-butt to everyone by slowing things down or not allowing things to happen at all. They’re loving it!
• The management teams are slowly becoming amenable to the fact that the billion dollar ‘cloud’ data centre is more secure than the USB hard drive inside the plant room.
Connecting commercial buildings into the cloud is still something which must be championed by ambitious and technically savvy people who are acting in the interest of the building owner—mainly consultants or switched-on real estate managers, who have a good grasp of what they want to use the software tools for. There are definitely some very good software packages in the market right now, but they are selling themselves as exactly that, a one-size-fits-all package. Once you buy in, you’re seemingly locked in, which is ironic since the software world is supposed to be all about freedom of choice.
As we leverage and populate the cloud we need to clearly understand who owns the data. It is quite reasonable for the data to be in several cloud camps but we need simple access in an extremely mobile manner. Any web service provider that holds us hostage for data is problematic.