biix is all about the interoperability of information. Interoperability is, in our opinion, the next level of smart in smart buildings. It represents a previously unachievable goal, in part because the technology didn’t exist, and in part because of the daunting complexity and enormity of the task.
The basic premise of interoperability is that it allows relationships to be established. Ideally, it allows unlimited relationships, including the ability to accommodate third party apps and software.
biix is the next level of smart in smart buildings
There are many ways to view interoperability. For example:
- Can the HVAC controls ‘talk’ to the lighting controls?
- Can a technician remotely view live HVAC information and documentation associated with a specific asset or system, and then switch over to the electrical generator or solar panels?
- Can building A communicate with building B?
- Can a group of buildings communicate with the smart grid, or do they just putter along on their own set of railroad tracks, built to a standard that perhaps no one else uses?
- Can the design engineer’s information from eight years ago be instantly compared to commissioning test results from three years ago, and then verified against the most recent testing and balancing reports, which are then all compared to live data, live systems, and current operation?
- Can individual assets be readily cost segregated, and then can financial software ‘talk’ to asset management software?
- Can data be readily exchanged?
But let’s stop for a second, and specifically note the last item in the list. It asks if ‘data’ can be exchanged. But what about ‘the interoperability of information’? What about making easy to find and use information?
Because information is not the same as data. Data runs in the background; it’s stuff we rarely see. But information is different: it’s the stuff we use, the stuff we need. Data is like our smartphone’s operating system, and information is like our easy-to-use apps. That’s biix: easy to find and simple to use.
The relentless growth of information in buildings
There is a growing recognition occurring within the built-environment of a new highly disruptive need: a new “intelligent layer to manage assets.” In this sense buildings represent, according to Travis Putnam of Navitas Capital, a “massive space that is ripe for disruption.”
Even something as seemingly simple as facility documentation has grown into a nightmare. According to Dr. Bill East and the National Institute of Building Sciences,
“Facility managers have reported that this effort may require man-years of effort to create and review and transcribe hundreds of pages of documents, validate the transcriptions and manually enter data.”
biix is about a new “intelligent layer to manage assets.”
In surveys of Facilities Managers, performed by the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Labs, it was revealed that as much as 2–4 hours per work ticket is being wasted — time used up simply searching and looking for information.
Cleantech Group sums it up well:
To achieve this intelligent infrastructure where hardware meets software for the benefit of natural resources, we must bridge the gap between clean technologies and the cloud. In the physical layer, customers are installing solar power, on-site fuel cells, or micro-turbines to generate their own power but aren’t able to share it with their closest neighbors. Customers are also increasingly adding batteries to store electricity, but don’t have the means to participate in demand response, or better manage their energy consumption. We see electric vehicles on the road, but charging points are still not connected to home energy management systems and do not allow users to source and sell electricity to an interactive grid. In order for these emerging systems to communicate effectively with each other, we need to find ways to connect the physical layer with the cloud. We must develop a middle layer — an intelligent layer — of sensors, data, software, analytics, and financing instruments. This new middle layer represents a massive economic opportunity across a number of different markets.
Realizing this vision is a challenge. All the elements are in place — renewable energy plants, buildings that are their own micro power plants, storage technologies, a smarter grid, electric vehicles, and decentralized water treatment — but we must develop that intelligent layer to manage these assets in an interactive, integrated, and seamless way.
From an article by Cleantech Group CEO Sheeraz Haji (bold emphasis is ours)
Interoperability is being recognized as a ‘vital essential’ in moving the yardstick forward in managing smart and even not-so-smart buildings. Interoperability is the next level of ‘smart’, which is all about making things easier, more accessible, and providing instant delivery of information.