Vinayak Hegde

Connected Devices Ecosystem - The Future of the Built Environment

Technology is transforming how commercial buildings operate for owners, facility managers, and occupants. Buildings when enabled with IoT, open the door to a sea of untapped potential. Explore how a connected device ecosystem is now becoming an integral ingredient in built environment, both for new and existing buildings.

 Multiple devices like lighting, HVAC, energy meter, access control, elevators present in different building connected

Technology is transforming how commercial buildings operate for owners, facility managers, and occupants. Buildings that are IoT-enabled, along with smart building analytics, now provide unprecedented visibility into building equipment, maintenance, air quality, energy use, and much more.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing but a network of equipment, sensors, and devices that talk to each other. The primary goal of adopting IoT is to acquire data, analyze it, and act upon it. When it comes to commercial buildings, this data often comprises information from key building equipment like HVAC, security, lighting systems, energy meters, air quality monitors, etc. 

When all this data comes together on a central platform, it opens the door to a sea of untapped potential. A connected device ecosystem is now becoming an integral ingredient of any new buildings or retrofits for all the obvious reasons.

Advantages of a Connected Devices Ecosystem

Now, let’s have a look at some major benefits that buildings can get with a connected device ecosystem approach:

1. The availability of information in real-time

You could collect actionable data from a wide range of building equipment by employing the correct network-connected sensors and devices. Some of the factors that can be monitored and substantially correlated include presence detection, occupancy levels, temperature, humidity, lighting, energy consumption, fault detection, etc.

2. Minimal manual errors

Data silos are a commonly known issue in facilities management. Organizations frequently store tons of data on disconnected systems in the form of papers, spreadsheets, etc. It is only humane to commit errors while interacting with such a huge set of data manually. This in turn leads to severe issues like operational inefficiency, energy wastage, and more.

If one needs to find information like work orders, energy consumption, space utilization, maintenance history, asset details, etc. the time it takes to dig through a physical filing system costs labor hours that may be spent elsewhere for other work.

3. Data centralization

Data will flow continuously from equipment and devices to a central database and unified reporting system by enabling automatic data collection across your building's operational systems. 

As a result, you will have quick access to any integrated system and its issues, enabling you to precisely outline a plan of action for any operational adjustments needed to raise comfort levels or increase efficiencies throughout your building or facility. With so many insights and analytics at the disposal, relevant stakeholders will be empowered to take data-driven decisions.

4. One data, multiple applications

Each device collects data for a specific purpose. But the very same data might be useful for other applications.

For example, if a specified load level is exceeded while operating on backup power (diesel generator), an automatic workflow can be set up for some HVAC systems to keep the setpoint temperature values high to minimize the load. The data's quality and scope allow for far more contextualized and responsive interactions, with the possibility for change.

5. Remote connectivity that's secure

The Internet of Things and smart building trends enable remote connectivity so that service contractors and facility teams can monitor and sometimes troubleshoot systems without having to be directly present next to the equipment. 

With the expansion of the IoT, there’s a heightened demand for increased coordination with service providers for secure network connectivity and user authentication strategies ensuring safe, managed connectivity to integrated building systems.

6. Integration of open protocols

Devices that employ open, standard protocols such as BACnet and Modbus can be integrated into any IoT-driven software system. Consider the following BACnet energy meter example. The device can be incorporated into a centralized platform where all data can be read in real-time or in some cases, data can be pushed into the device, depending on its nature.

Building systems that can be connected to the building's network and regulated by an Internet of Things (IoT)-based central management system can transform conventional buildings into intelligent ones where these connected devices can gather data, respond to stimuli, and send alarms. All of this results in a more cost-effective, energy-efficient, and productive physical space. It is the conversion of a physical workspace into a digital information system.

Tips for Transitioning to a Connected Device Ecosystem

As with any other digital transformation initiative, you are likely to experience difficulties or setbacks. Here are some tips to help you avoid such hurdles.

1. Plan ahead of time and invest in communication-capable devices

If you are setting up a new facility or retrofitting existing infrastructure, ensure that the investment is made on the devices that are communication-capable on the most commonly used building automation protocols like BACnet, Modbus, etc.

In the future, these devices will also be connected to any IoT system, making your facility future-proof.

2. Ensure that data output is provided on a common protocol

The existence of numerous proprietary protocols inside the building ecosystem is one of the primary causes of the data silos. The devices' ability to communicate with one another is restricted as a result. 

Installing a gateway that converts all of these protocols into a single, universal protocol, such as BACnet/IP, could be the answer. This would enable all of the devices to talk with each other.

3.Choose a facility management software that integrates a wide range of building devices

Now that you know your devices can communicate, you have to find software that can integrate all kinds of devices present in your building, such as HVAC, energy meters, AHUs, diesel generators, indoor air quality (IAQ) devices, fire alarms, etc. Making sure the platform is cloud-based and centralized is a gain because, unlike other conventional solutions, it enables you to access it from anywhere and on any device.

And, here’s the solution for you: IQnext. We at IQnext, are striving to transform the way how buildings operate. We offer a centralized cloud-based solution for building management systems enhancing sustainability and efficiency through a connected, data-driven, and integrated approach.

The future is connected!

As we move towards a more connected future, it will be crucial for individuals and organizations to carefully consider the potential implications and be prepared to adapt to the changes that this shift will bring.

Although the transition from a manual/non-connected system to a connected one can take longer and be more expensive initially, the savings and countless benefits it brings in the long term make it worthwhile. Your implementation ought to be successful if you have a good plan and a reliable process in place.

We at IQnext, make sure that you successfully transform into a connected ecosystem by seamlessly integrating all of your building devices across your portfolio into a single centralized platform. In short, we help connect devices, processes, and people. The benefits? Well, the list is endless. Contact us for a chat.

Building Management
Facility management
connected devices