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  1. Introduction The concept of IoT Building Management Systems (BMS) as a service is poised to change the building industry. As the price of internet connected sensors comes down, a large number of sensors can be placed in a building to provide multiple data points connected to advanced cloud based analytical systems. This delivers superior BMS performance to traditional engineering approaches. Building owners own their data, while allowing service providers to help them optimise the efficiency and sustainability of their facilities. This approach also facilitates auditing of the actual performance of building management systems during the critical Defects Liability Period. Traditional vs IoT BMS The purpose of BMS is to achieve sustainable buildings and cities. They should increase efficiency, resilience, security and productivity, as well as reducing environmental impact. They may also incorporate intelligence (as in smart cities) and have the capacity to detect and fix damage. Traditional BMS were pioneered several decades ago. They started the process of automated control and data collection. A diagram of a traditional BMS is shown below. Diagram courtesy of Bob Sharon, Blue IoT Traditional BMS were often proprietary systems. They were expensive to purchase, and modifications to data extraction rules or reporting functions (“steering wheel options”) were also costly. This meant that many BMS owners did not use their systems to their full potential. Other challenges included the long lead times to make changes to the system, the high cost of the cabling to connect extra sensors, specialist programming services required (also costly), and limited alarm complexity without blowing out the budget. Data extraction and report customisation was typically complex and expensive, as was integrating additional data sets from additional systems or devices. And in many cases, the BMS vendor owned the data. A diagram of an IoT BMS is shown below. Diagram courtesy of Bob Sharon, Blue IoT IoT BMS solved many of the issues of traditional BMS systems through open system architectures, wireless technology instead of cabling, increased agility and integration, and reduced operation, modification and maintenance costs. A general comparison between traditional and IoT BMS is shown in the table below. One comment is that some tradition BMS are also starting to become more open. Diagram courtesy of Bob Sharon, Blue IoT Democratisation of data is another advantage IoT BMS have over traditional systems. Open source platforms where the client owns the data allow system modifications to be easily made, and the client to change vendors to meet their service requirements. This trend is set to increase in BMS and other IoT applications. The transition of BMS from traditional to IoT systems is still progressing. So for mission critical applications it may be advisable to use an open source traditional BMS with two-way communications and control form the cloud, with the option to shift to complete cloud operation as the technology matures. Architecture considerations for IoT BMS Considerations when choosing the data aggregation and IoT architecture for an IoT BMS include: Which protocols should connect the sensors and IoT platform? What form of communications technology best suits the application (eg Zigbee, wifi 802.x, Sigfox, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and LoRaWAN? How will your application engage with the cloud? Who will own the application data (vendor, building owner, users of devices)? Is an open or closed architecture most suitable? It is also recommended that a highly resilient (tier 3 or tier 4) data centre is used for BMS to ensure that data management meets requirements. Sensors and Predictive maintenance One of the problems with traditional BMS is the cost of adding additional sensors, which means that the minimum number is used. With IoT BMS, this cost is greatly reduced, which opens up opportunities for a wide range of data collection to be integrated. It is important to pay attention to data calibration and validation, to ensure that high quality, accurate data is collected. A diagram of some of the sensors which could be used in an IoT BMS is shown below. Diagram courtesy of Bob Sharon, Blue IoT Self-healing and predictive maintenance In particular accelerometers, vibration transmitters and switches can be used to monitor critical rotating machines, and perform predictive maintenance. For example, accelerometers can be used to measure vibration and measure the harmonics of motors. Through monitoring, faults can be fixed before they fail. Advanced machine learning tools will be invaluable for implementing self-healing machines that can dramatically reduce maintenance costs and risks of outages and out of hours maintenance. These cost reductions can offset the cost of installing an IoT BMS. Data analytics There are various data analytics platforms that can take data from thousands of sensors in disparate building management systems (over thousands of buildings if necessary) and create effective interactive analytics and visualisations for end users. This data can be interpreted by engineers and other experts to solve issues that are detected. Security Security of IoT BMS is crucial to ensure that hackers do not take control of the BMS or use it as a pathway to corporate networks, both of which can cause significant damage. A robust, holistic security architecture should be chosen, which implements security at every level including choice and security measures and levels for all of the following components of the BMS: sensor hardware communications protocol cloud IoT platform gateways cloud data centre Other considerations are whether encryption is used, if AI is used to check for unwanted signatures, whether a mesh network being used for sensor communication (can introduce additional risks), which geographic locations the data is going to before it reaches the data centre (and associated risks vs timely transmission of data). While risks cannot be entirely eliminated, they can be greatly reduced with careful security planning and design. An example of how BMS security can be implemented using LoRaWAN is shown below. Diagram courtesy of Bob Sharon, Blue IoT LoRaWAN has the advantage of being able to be encrypted, and the sensors are isolated. The data goes from the sensor directly to the gateway. From the gateway, it goes out over either 3G or 4G, or to another LoRaWAN base station, depending on the system design. This lowers the risk of hacking and additional AI layers can be added for further security. Two-way communication may also be available depending on the class of LoRaWAN used. This example is suitable for low bandwidth data. Sources: The content on this page has been primarily sourced from: Webinar titled “The death of Building Management Systems as we know them” by Bob Sharon, Chief Innovation Officer, Blue IoT See also the article of the same title in our discussion forum with some comments.
  2. Introduction Many businesses are missing out on significant improvements to asset management because management does not understand how IoT can be used to complement traditional systems, although there are some instances where it has been implemented to manage critical infrastructure such as water and wastewater systems. In one particular area, asset tracking is enjoying a resurgence as a complement to the asset management suite of tools due to the dramatically falling costs facilitated by the IoT. It is now possible to economically track tens of thousands of devices and deliver data analytics that support applications around compliance, productivity and security. Asset tracking systems link into asset management systems by exporting asset lists and unique IDs, which can then be tracked dynamically via IoT without the need to physically scan barcodes or RFID tags. Technologies that have the potential to be applied in visualisations for asset management and tracking including augmented reality and machine learning. Real Time Location Services for Asset Tracking with IoT Being able to quickly and efficiently track mobile assets via IoT has many advantages for businesses and corporations with a high demand for transparency in asset management. It also provides benefits in complying with servicing requirements and planning for future asset purchases based on accurate and complete usage data. Another possibility is tracking the movement of staff, setting notifications for security or OH&S breaches. Real Time Location Services (RTLS) combines smart asset tags and stationary gateways or tag readers with various communication protocols and uses either GPS or uploaded floor plans to monitor the location of assets. Potential applications for IoT asset tracking include the corporate sector where multi-storey buildings or large outdoor sites (such as mines) can make equipment location hard to track. Public sector applications such as hospitals it can also deliver significant productivity gains by allowing time-poor staff to find equipment efficiently and reduce the cost of under-utilised equipment (which can be considerable). Challenges Keeping down the cost of asset tags, gateways, routers and tag readers is a major challenge when choosing a RTLS solution, especially when tracking a large number of devices over a wide area. To ensure that reliable asset tracking is maintained, communications need to be stable and allow uninterrupted connectivity. If there are outages, contingency plans are required. For example, if the primary communications are via Bluetooth, local wi-fi and a 3G router might be provided as backup. Increasing competition, particularly for low band frequency (LF) RTLS is bringing down costs and providing developers with multiple options to maintain connectivity. Tracking assets within multi-storey buildings can also present a challenge, as some technologies, such as GPS and LF solutions, will only show the geographical location and may not specify which floor the asset is on, or relate it to the building’s floor plan. Ideally, you want to know which room it is in, at the very least. Another consideration is how to integrate or retrofit legacy asset tracking systems. For application to assets that require sterilisation at high temperatures or are subject to vibrations (such as mining vehicles) different casings can be designed to protect the tags from temperature, vibration and other environmental factors , although this comes at a cost. Considerations When choosing an RTLS solution, considerations should include: Do you want to install multiple access points or use existing electronic device’s capabilities What kind of coverage is required? What accuracy is required? How many assets do you want to track? Do you need local or global tracking? RTLS technology options The table below summarises the strengths, considertions and relative cost of some RTLS technology options. Diagrams courtesy of Tony Lotzof, Leash It Triangulation and reference point architectures Two architectures can be used to track tagged assets within buildings or sites. The first is reference point architecture, which uses multiple routers located around the building or site. The gateways detect signals ransmitted by asset tags and posts the location of the asset relative to the closest gateway to a server, which lays out asset location on a floor plan. This architecture is shown in the diagram below. Diagram courtesy of Tony Lotzof, Leash It The second architecture is triangulation, uses three routers to triangulate the position of the asset tag according to the relative signal strength received by each of the routers. This architecture is shown in the following diagram. In some wi-fi solutions, triangulation architectures can have trouble distinguishing between floor locations in multi-storey buildings. Diagram courtesy of Tony Lotzof, Leash It The building floor plan or site plan is uploaded to the RTLS solution, and asset location is plotted according to horizontal (x) and vertical (y) co-ordinates, and updated when a new position is detected. Security Security of RTLS can be increased by implementing data encryption, and multiple entry points to counter denial of service attacks. For BLE solutions, only Bluetooth IDs are transmitted, not sensitive information. However, open wi-fi end nodes can lead to vulnerabilities. Case Study See the case study of a tracking solution by Blue IoT. Sources: The content of this page was primarily sourced from: Webinar titled “Asset Tracking with the IoT” by Tony Lotzof, Leash It
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