Thursday, May 24, 2018

Smart Buildings and IoT

This is a very interesting TEDx Berlin presentation I had to watch for my IoT (Internet of Things) Masters course.

Surprisingly 35% of carbon emissions come from buildings, which can be substantially reduced by applying modern technologies and sustainable development.

Building automation was a subject that grabbed my attention more than 30 years ago while working at IBM with the Series/1 computer. This system was designed for real time applications, one of them building control and automation. At that time Internet was still in its early days and modern computer networks where just in their infancy. Many systems and technologies were proprietary and there was minimal interoperability, and IoT was not even on the radar screen.

Nowadays with the ubiquity of the Internet, advances in technology, particularly on IoT and Big Data, it became feasible and commercially viable and redituable to develop sustainable or smart buildings, and the same concept can be used for developing smart cities.

As shown in the TEDx presentation by Coen van Oostrom, "The Edge" building is a clear demonstration on how the convergence of modern technologies with a sustainable development approach can enable the construction of more efficient and practical commercial building.

"The Edge" is not only consider sustainable and smart just because of the technology, but also as the way it is utilized by Deloitte (the principal tenant) to create a working space where no one has a desk, a new approach that goes beyond coworking spaces, in this case it is called hotdesking.

Your desk or space on the building is allocated based on your plans and preferences for the day. You drive an electric car, no problem the parking on the building includes plenty of charging places and your vehicle is recognized by its license plate and you are directed to your parking spot for the day.

"The Edge" was featured by Bloomberg in 2015 as the smartest building of the world.

One of the innovations at "The Edge" was the use of LED lighting supplied by Phillips, but the interesting part of it is that they didn't use the classic electric power wiring but delivering power using the Ethernet network wiring using PoE (Power Over Ethernet) which made each of the more than 20,000 lighting fixtures part of a network enabling a central server based system to manage lighting for the entire building.

Not only that, since Ethernet is a two way communication network each of the fixture includes an array of sensors that provide a boatload of data to optimize everything for building management, add extra sensors like for example determine how often a toilet is used and you can even optimize how cleaning services are performed during the day.

Talking about PoE or Power over Ethernet, some of the articles I'm planning to post over the next few weeks are about what PoE is actually is and how to implement it, particularly how to embed it on your products or electronic designs.

By the way, and also topic of a coming soon article, the same idea of using IoT for Smart Buildings can be extrapolated to create Smart Cities.

More to come ...


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