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Technology


fact that there are few new-builds and, according to Tim Streather of Spica Technologies “70% of existing public buildings don’t have a building management system”, and it’s obvious that the opportunities for connecting assets is enormous. This situation is now changing dramatically since the costs of the technology, including the chips and battery power, have dropped significantly. New and exciting low-power private networks such as Zigbee, SIGFOX and 6LowPan have become available. This is important since these new networks don’t intrude on clients’ internal network systems, something that is always problematic and limiting because of security concerns. The cost reduction has made IoT a viable model and since most buildings don’t have a BMS or some form of connected devices infrastructure this has enabled retrofit to become commercially attractive. Whatever figures you believe, even if it is that the world’s connected devices will total 10 or 20 billion by 2020, the key thing is that for forward-looking companies a whole world of business opportunities is opening up. According to Ian Stewart of Arqiva, a leading communications infrastructure and media services company, “IoT allows the FM industry to disrupt traditional channels.”


Combining the power of IoT and Big Data Bringing together IoT and Big Data enables powerful and new business ideas to be developed. For example, companies such as Photonstar LED Group, a manufacturer of LED lighting, combine connected lighting and a sensor data platform to automatically manage lighting systems and deliver circadian lighting rhythms that improve staff wellbeing and productivity. The availability of low-cost and self-contained private networks such as 6LowPan now make retrofit of such systems a possibility. Again, such a private network can exist without intruding on the client’s networks meaning that totally self-contained packaged solutions are now possible. Companies like Photonstar deliver whole solutions easily retrofitted and managed through the Cloud. Similarly, Arqiva provides pre-provisioned packaged solutions, for things like room temperature, humidity and light sensors, ready to deploy. Big Data, the collection of large sets of data, say from lighting or AC systems, is created from very small individual data points, but when all this is combined it provides a powerful set that can then be analysed to reveal patterns, trends and associations. To this end, IoT and Big Data can go hand-in-hand and those facilities companies that can exploit this can create whole new business models. Analytics is the key here, for being able to extract the important small data from the Big Data collected will differentiate those that can leverage it for new business models or to improve efficiencies.


Advancing your business model The Internet of Things and the ability to utilise collected data delivers a succession of business model opportunities. The six stages of this, as explained by Peter Norton of IBM, are:


FACILITIES 129


n Touch point – with owner, occupier or management company to identify how a building is being used


n Predict & prevent – optimise maintenance by preventing failure and ensuring timely fixing


n Optimise – learn from usage, optimise future designs, improve efficiencies


n Extend and interact – interact with asset or other systems in new ways


n New values – deliver to other business units and companies so they can use the data; and


n New business model – create new models such as pay per use / service model.


The use of data to predict and prevent is introspective and nothing new. Companies across all sectors have been doing this for years, and FM is no different. What has changed, though, is the price-point at which assets can be connected, managed and provide operating data. This change has enabled other things to be developed, such as optimisation and linking to other systems like IBM’s Maximo enterprise asset management system. These software packages now increasingly have facilities, through application program interfaces (APIs), to exchange data with other systems and connected devices. The cost of the underlying components make interoperability commercially viable, light-touch, non- intrusive and easily retrofitted. For example, Spica Technologies delivers an automated legionella testing system, pre-provisioned with a management platform for control and reporting, over its SIGFOX low power network. Spica works with many partner companies and government bodies including Censis in Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University, which is developing an intelligent CO2 sensor for the built environment, healthcare, and oil and gas industries.


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