From smart access to smart climate control systems, most buildings have some sort of intelligence. Maybe you even have a Building Management System (BMS). However, what your smart building really needs is its own Building Operating System (BOS).
A BOS is a software platform that makes the link between the equipment of a building and the applications that will be used by building managers and building occupants. The BOS centralizes data from different sources: building management systems, lighting, HVAC, IoT sensors, 4G controller, etc. to unify and enrich them in a single repository. The acquired data is then structured and sent in the correct format to any application that needs it.
It is thus possible to deploy applications that meet the needs of operation, maintenance and use, without modifying the existing local infrastructure. Now we’re talking really smart.
On one side, we have end users seeking for more interactions with their surrounding environment: an app to control their comfort, meeting rooms smart booking, issues reporting, chatbot, indoor geolocation… And on the other side, buildings tend to have more and more connected systems producing even more data but mostly failing to satisfy these new needs.
The building digitalization is also disrupting the way we manage facilities and is opening new ways of creating value. Building data is underexploited because of the lack of coherence and structure. That data can generate a lot more value if we improve the way we deal with them: malfunction detection, energy optimization, space optimization, maintenance log, predictive maintenance…
You may think it’s just a hype that will be away soon, but buildings that don’t follow this evolution will have a decreased value in the future regarding other buildings that provide plug & play installation of new services, some we don’t even know yet. Mastering buildings data to provide more value is becoming so important; it’s now one of the key requirements for investors.
A prime use case of smart building technology can be found at Microsoft headquarters, where energy usage was cut by 22% after implementing ICONICS software. This not only had tremendous impact on the environment, but also resulted in saving millions of dollars annually.
Microsoft used ICONICS to develop some type of “analytical blanket” connecting 30,000 pieces of equipment and various building management systems across 125 buildings. By enabling all these pieces and systems to talk to each other and visualising them in powerful dashboards, building managers got valuable insights into their building energy consumption. All this data could easily be shared with decision makers and thus influence important decisions.
A Building Operating System is the middleware between the technical equipment and installations of your building & infrastructure and the services in the upper layer (building-centric and user-centric). Its main purpose is to rationalize and interconnect the data between field devices/sensors and applications. The data is collected by the BOS, structured and sent in the right format to each application that needs it.
The Building Operating System is the evolution of a traditional BMS/BAS into a larger information and data system. It differs in the multitude of data it processes: IoT, access control, fire detection, ..., the contextualization & structuring of data it provides and the connectivity to own and external IT solutions. For example, a BMS is currently only deployed with the sole purpose of providing a technical interface to Facility Managers. Even if it is an open system, it is difficult and expensive to put a new IT service on top of it because the BMS is not designed to allow third parties to access easily meaningful data.
With a microservice approach, the concept of a BOS is that any digital service provider can connect to the building and automatically find out what is going on inside, because all the data it interacts with, can describe itself and its interactions. In this way, it becomes possible to deploy a new service without changing the current infrastructure of a building or even changing anything about the local data. The role of the BOS is to hide the complexity of the field with different equipment manufacturers and protocols and provide meaningful data on the IT side so that you can deploy independent services from each other without even knowing the full architecture of your building(s).
The Building Operating System plays the role of an ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) we can find in other IT domains. It handles the integration of data from heterogeneous sources into a single unified interface to provide useful data to services that need them. This integration is done in three phases:
The BOS can acquire local data (communicating equipment, gateways, IoT…) or cloud data (weather, IoT…). The BOS purpose is to make the acquisition at the equipment level as much as it’s possible, avoiding any gateway in order to increase the reliability of the architecture. The BOS should be the only interface between the equipment and the services. This is intended to avoid every service creating a connector to every equipment manufacturer, also called the “Spaghettiware.” It’s a bad architecture for two main reasons:
At the opposite, changes are done at the BOS level, and then it provides automatically the changes to every service accessing the data. This process is automatic.
The BOS is not just another middleware between OT and IT. The BOS is a platform that processes data and provides various tools to manage the data in three main steps:
The concept of data refers not only to real-time values, but also to more complex formats (commands, time series, events, schedules, alarms...) that are also processed by the BOS.
Koning & Hartman Belgium advises and supports your smart building projects using the ICONICS intelligent building software. With our years of experience and know-how, we help companies transition to a smarter and sustainable future.
At Koning & Hartman, we partner with Microsoft, giving the Benelux market access to the agility and ease of use and insights of Iconics. It allows us to gain insights by collecting real-time data while building a historical view.
We have created unprecedented interactions, feeding the digital twin with highly structured data, sharing BIM information, and even reconfiguring local equipment (such as master-slave logic between FCUs) based on a BIM model change (such as an open space being divided into two offices). The result is an improved productivity and reliability for the people on-site, avoiding a lot of coordination because it is handled automatically by machines.
Meeting rooms are a nightmare for many users. Always fully booked, but mostly empty, people are always looking for meeting rooms. What if the BOS could feed the meeting room booking system with the information about occupancy and release the room if no one is in after a certain time? This is something that can easily be done with a BOS.
The occupancy of washrooms can be monitored and the data can be synchronized with the Facility Manager's internal application, allowing them to adjust cleaning frequency according to occupancy - better comfort for users, lower costs for tenants. Chatbots, mobile applications for parking, analytics... are the future of a Smart Building.