Verdantix: Solution providers step up IT security in smart buildings


One of the biggest barriers to growth in remotely accessing building management systems (BMS) – one of the key features of a smart building – is IT security.

The IT industry has established a sophisticated process for monitoring and protecting IT networks, but these concepts are not as well developed in building systems and many of the equipment that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). Additionally, there is often lack of communication and collaboration between the IT department and the facilities department. There is also increasing pressure on service providers to provide an out-of-the-box security solution.

Smart buildings are particularly vulnerable as every added connected device is another potential door into the building’s wider network. Even one of the most high-tech companies in the world, Google, was hit by a cyberattack in 2013 through a building management system. Retailer, Target was hacked through the HVAC system in 2014. This year, we have seen severe ransomware cyberattacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected computers in over 150 countries.

This type of attack now feels very regular with a similar one occurring as we write. Individual buildings such as hotels have also been targeted and hacked through building automation systems (BAS) – witness the attack on a luxury hotel in the Austrian Alps in February, where the card system got breached, shut down, and a ransom demanded to restore the system to enable guests back into their rooms…

To learn more about the market for remote monitoring solutions see our recent report – Now Is The Time To Implement Remote Monitoring Solutions.

[Admin: To see other related posts, use the Smart Buildings tag or Vulnerability tag.]

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Smart buildings success includes dashboards and data analytics


The past few years have seen a surge of products and options that facility managers can use to examine, analyze, predict, and improve building performance and reduce energy costs. But connecting the dots in an increasingly complex web — the Building Internet of Things — often takes serious consideration, practical attention to budgets, and resolute effort.

Many organizations currently collect data, but want to use that data more effectively. This is the case for Texas Christian University. The university does a lot of data collection and monitoring but not a lot of data analytics, reports Chris Honkomp, assistant vice chancellor for facilities. “We have that on our list of issues to address in the next year, but are focused on installation of a new maintenance management system right now, and will address analytics as a part of this process.”

Many organizations have been collecting data for years, but as prices on the software that aggregates and trends these information points comes down, more facility managers are buying into data analytics of one sort or another. Just how far any specific organization has gone depends on a range of factors, including expertise, staffing levels, available data, time, and of course budget. A look at three facility organizations shows the range of current practices and challenges…

[Admin: To see other related posts, use the Smart Buildings tag.]

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FM trends in high-performance buildings and workplaces (HPB+W)


The annual High-Performance Buildings + Workplaces (HPB+W) conference takes place at the Arlington (Texas) Convention Center, May 17-18. Registration is free!

Greg Zimmerman brings more than 13 years of experience and knowledge to the facility management field. He discusses the changes and trends he’s seen in the quickly evolving occupation. With technology rapidly influencing the profession, facility managers can expect to see the effect in their everyday jobs and the overall performance of their buildings.

What misconceptions do people have about smart, sustainable buildings?

A common misconception I hear is high-performance buildings or smart buildings must be super expensive and complex. That’s simply not true. Even small buildings that are easier to operate can be smart, high-performance, and sustainable. Most buildings in the United States are smaller, so we can really start making a dent…

What excites you about the future of the facilities business?

The rate at which high-performance building technology is being implemented is really encouraging. The Internet of Things, IoT, is one example. We have adopted IoT technology in our personal lives, and now we’re doing that in our professional lives. People have been using smart phones to remotely control things…

What advice would you give to facility managers just starting out?

One thing to focus on is learning about what’s going to be important in the future. The biggest topic in facility management right now is high-performance buildings and sustainability. Technology is second nature to young professionals just coming in. Understand and learn the technology. Be the “go to” person for your building…

What do people need to know about HPB+W?

This is really the only show of its kind, covering such a wide range of topics. It concentrates on energy and water efficiency, air quality, IoT, technology; all falling under the umbrella of high-performance buildings. This is our third year of the show and we are really hitting our stride…

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Verdantix: Siemens trains the next generation of facility managers


The real estate industry has the perception of being a slow-moving adopter of emerging technology – across its lifecycle. Once building systems are installed, they are generally not upgraded or replaced until absolutely necessary because of the cost intensive nature the renovation work required.

Recently, however… increased use of technologies such as smart equipment and sensors and cloud-based software for energy, maintenance and space utilization management begs the question – How is the facility management industry to stay up to date and relevant in the era of smart buildings? There are three routes the industry needs to pursue to stay on top of new technologies.

  • The first is to use FM training programs, such as those offered through industry associations like the British Institute of Facilities Management or the International Facility Management Association…
  • Secondly, aspiring facility managers need to be trained on the use of new technologies from the start. Siemens is assisting the Tallahassee Community College (TCC) to design and equip a “Living Lab”…
  • Finally, firms may find it too cost intensive to continuously provide training on new technologies to staff – it may be more beneficial to consider contracting with specialist services providers, such as Siemens…

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Verdantix: Take note of new efforts to standardise well-being data


On March 7, 2017, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) launched a programme to develop a set of global standards for sensors and systems that monitor the range of variables which impact worker well-being (e.g. air quality, light levels and humidity). The IWBI, with partners including the Green Building Council of Australia and RESET, aims to improve the quality of data collected on occupant well-being by providing standards for sensor performance, as well as guidance on how firms can analyse this data. This is a potentially interesting development for software vendors across the real estate, energy and facilities information management (REEFIM) market – it has the potential to improve the quality and consistency of well-being data.

Improving occupant well-being continues to be one of the hottest themes across the REEFIM market. Suppliers are positioning existing and new service offerings around occupant well-being, on the promise it can boost productivity and help to reduce absenteeism. For example, Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) vendor Planon collects and analyses data on lighting levels, thermal comfort and air quality, to provide recommendations to customers for improving occupant comfort. Honeywell has developed the Occupant Vector App to allow workers to provide feedback on thermal comfort levels. Mitie is piloting an Intelligent Buildings Solution which looks to boost worker productivity and concentration by optimising internal environments…

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EnOcean Alliance and IBM partner to standardize solutions for IoT


The EnOcean Alliance is a consortium of more than 400 companies which standardize and develop intelligent building solutions integrating energy harvesting wireless technology. Together, IBM and the EnOcean Alliance will bring sensors to the cloud and develop self-powered solutions as a standard for the Internet of Things.

EnOcean-based sensors and devices operate large numbers of IoT devices efficiently and supply reliable data to IoT systems. Furthermore, the EnOcean Alliance offers the benefit of a broad, proven ecosystem of interoperable energy harvesting wireless sensor solutions, which are available for intelligent buildings worldwide. These solutions help optimize the utilization of buildings, create new service models and make buildings more flexible, more energy-efficient and altogether more cost-effective…

In close collaboration, the EnOcean Alliance and IBM define and expand standards for self-powered solutions for the IoT. Together, both partners standardize the EnOcean to IP interface and simplify the usage of applications in the IoT. This, for example, allows the integration of energy-harvesting wireless technology into the IBM Watson IoT Platform to conduct predictive and real-time analysis of facilities. These solutions can be used in various cases from asset management, ambient assisted living projects, insurance or hotel and campus projects, giving maintenance-free wireless switches and sensors based on EnOcean technology…

[Admin: This post is related to the 10.18.16 post about EnOcean’s Dolphin energy harvesting wireless modules.]

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Planon: What use cases will bring great value to IoT in RE/FM?


The Internet of Things (IoT)… IoT has many applications in all kinds of businesses and industries. We, as an IWMS vendor, concentrate on buildings and people, the two key factors for Real Estate and Facilities Management (RE/FM). In addressing the IoT opportunities for our clients, one basic challenge we see is to provide new IoT solutions which are affordable and manageable for buildings. We can talk about great applications but when the technology behind it is complex and expensive, the great story will remain but implementation will fall behind.

This is why four “values” are driving the development of our next-generation IoT solutions: Simplicity, Scalability, Security and Speed.

Working on adoption is great, but at the core of IoT for Real Estate and FM lies the question: “What is the value”? In other words: “What use cases will bring great value”?… As they say: “There is no time like the present”, so let’s talk about applications. To start it off, I would like to start from perhaps an unexpected angle: IoT infrastructures are made of devices of many types which communicate and share their data. So, imagine a building fitted out with all types of sensors, smart meters and so on that capture and communicate data. Applications will tap into this data and use it to create valuable use cases.

Now, what would happen should one or some of these devices fail? The applications that are dependent on their data will either stop or render unreliable results, destroying not only their valued contribution, but also people’s trust in the accuracy and reliability of the whole system. In Real Estate and Facilities Management, we have known for a long time that installing new things is not difficult. Making sure they keep on working through their full life cycle is, however, no simple task and lies at the heart of the business of maintenance, and hence, our IWMS. This is why we enable IoT infrastructures to underpin our asset management. Just like any other building-related asset…

In other words, at Planon, we view IoT infrastructures and the devices in them as yet another class of assets…

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