Big Data, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and cloud-based data analytics: What does it all mean for building energy management? And businesses?
The world, apparently. Or a rave new world, which has huge implications for businesses, according to a GreenBiz webcast, “Sensors, Buildings and the Coming Internet of Things.”
The Internet of Things, consisting of billions of connected devices, will spawn M2M communications of devices sharing lots of bits of information, compiled into what’s known as Big Data and parsed by powerful cloud-based analytics systems, which will provide business with the intelligence to be more efficient and profitable.
In other words, when you apply Big Data and the Internet of Things to building energy management, it’s not only green—it gives a business a competitive edge.
The availability of data on devices like sensors used to be islands of information, says John Doyle, director of product marketing for Microsoft’s Windows Embedded. But connect those sensors to networks and machines that can analyze that data, and you create new business knowledge. That could include optimizing the climate controls in a building at one time to save energy and money—or using “latent data” that is stored over time to provide valuable insights, enabling a company to be more competitive in the future.
Doyle says there will be an explosion of connected devices. By 2020, he says, we’ll see 2 billion PCs installed worldwide, 50 billion connected devices and 10 trillion integrated circuits. Embedded intelligent systems will lead the marketplace, enabling the ability to mine vast amounts of data to drive operational and business efficiencies.
Operational intelligence will provide the ability to understand the health of devices, for example, while business intelligence will use the data retrieved for marketing, finance and asset utilization, offering companies competitive advantages over time.
“Big data is the new currency,” he says.
“Improper or inefficient performance costs money,” says Mark Hendrickson, director of Panoptix Operations for Johnson Controls. “Facility managers have so many systems, people, types of equipment and energy concerns to manage they can’t often see the problems that are staring them straight in the budget.”
He offers a scenario of a fire alarm going off, that without a connected building system retrieving lots of data, would just result in the facility manager knowing the alarm went off and possibly not understanding why. With data and building management systems software like Panoptix, the manager can access all kinds of information about the alarm, what air handlers came on, how they performed, whether exhaust fans came on, etc.
The facility manager can then use that information to do fault detection and resolve problems before they happen. The company can also use its data to determine best-in-class systems and best practices.
Furthermore, he says, “if we look at intelligent systems and bring data into the cloud, we can look at overall performance and identify the little energy hogs” that suck money from an operation.
“We need to bring all that data into the cloud, normalize the data and allow you to compare it,” Hendrickson says.
Of course, there remain challenges, such as getting all that data into the cloud. Disparate systems need “black boxes” to translate communications protocols, and security must be assured. Meanwhile, facility managers’ budgets are being strained, preventing many of them from this sort of forward-thinking and planning.
Bottom line, or perhaps triple bottom line: Big Data and Internet of Things, M2M and cloud-based analytics can combine with building energy management to deliver operation savings, as well as business knowledge and insights that enable better planning, marketing, financing and above all—a competitive advantage in the new marketplace.