If cars can drive themselves and drones can fly themselves, how long will it be before buildings will manage themselves?
While it may take more than a decade for full autonomy, with the rapid pace of the evolution of smart building technologies, the day of the autonomous building is within reach.
Edge devices, such as fire alarms, motion detectors, actuators and energy meters, have long been the peripheral doers of building automation. Traditionally, most of these devices serve a simple, discrete role — identifying the presence of smoke or measuring temperature — sending this information to a control panel or central building automation system (BAS), where decisions are made as to whether changing conditions require a response. The edge devices execute these control decisions to provide a safe, secure, comfortable environment for the occupants while optimizing energy and operational efficiency.
The smart building movement started in earnest with cloud computing, which enables building owners to use intelligent, connected technology to deliver additional value. Connecting BAS to the cloud provides the ability to aggregate, analyze and visualize vast amounts of data across a portfolio of buildings. Analyzing data from a fleet of buildings over a long period of time provides insights to optimize energy and operations. For example, our recently launched offering, Honeywell Forge for Buildings, enables building owners to transform facility operations from preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance thereby increasing asset life while reducing maintenance costs.
Edge devices are also getting smarter by embedding communications and intelligence at the edge. They are no longer simple measurement devices that send the data off to a cloud-connected BAS. Instead, they can form an intelligent network of edge devices and quickly interpret the data generated by edge nodes to take appropriate action without an intermediary. This essentially eliminates the latency or delay associated with cloud computing over what has become an increasingly clogged information superhighway. Smart edge device networks can process information and make quick decisions at the edge while also sending data to the cloud for further analytics and reporting. Essentially, a hybrid architecture using a network of smart edge devices along with cloud analytics offers the best opportunity to transform next generation building technology.
Consider building security – the traditional security camera in a commercial building is connected to a network video system. The footage is sent to a recorder, analyzed on the back end and fed to operators watching a screen. An intelligent IP camera can perform its own analytics, such as face or license plate recognition and trigger a gate to open, providing seamless parking experience to building occupants and visitors.
Smart edge can be defined with following characteristics:
The day is not far off when we will have highly intelligent edge devices that don’t need heavy control systems but can do just what the space demands or occupants need at any given time. Such a network of edge devices can directly communicate with the cloud for data analytics across a fleet of buildings over time to optimize an entire portfolio. Then buildings, like cars and drones, can truly join the autonomous world.
This is the first article in a series about what’s happening “On the Edge” to bridge today and tomorrow. Upcoming posts will look at how innovations such as advanced sensors, mesh networks, and artificial intelligence are improving outcomes and the user experience in next-generation buildings.
Global Annual Revenue Associated with Edge IoT Spend in Commercial Buildings Is Expected to Near $8 Billion in 2027. Navigant press release, Jan. 15, 2019.