Corporate Enterprises Are Forever Changed With Real-Time Building Informtion

May 4, 2005
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Real-time information is creating a revolution that is changing the direction and purpose of the corporate enterprise. This wealth of continuously generated and instantly updated data is breathing new life into corporate enterprises while spouting new business models. The results are changing forever the traditional core company values.

Some of the greatest movements are in the area of company reorganization independent of geographical location. To do this, the CEO, CIO, and their managers must look through the Web or their internal virtual networks and view the full extent of their domain unlimited by physical location.

To add clarity to this view, real-time data with instant feedback is required. Decisionmakers need to feel (measure and sense conditions), see (video conferencing, Web cameras, etc.), and hear (voice-over IP, cellular phone, pagers, etc.) what is happening in all corners of the managed domain. The constantly and automatically updated enterprise itself can be the obvious vehicle for feeding back information to remote locations. Feedback can be enhanced with live video and networked digital signage. The harbinger of this real-time movement was the centralization of most corporations’ cash flow operations, and much of this new real-time information can be centralized through the enterprise in a similar manner.

Although the ability to operate remotely is a big part of the overall real-time movement, there are other game-changing concepts, such as the deep integration of building security with human resource records as outlined in Rod Zivney’s “Access Control - The Missing Link?” Client preference profiling concepts are changing how we look at building real-time information. Also in the following pages, Jack Mc Gowan provides insight with actual examples of how the hospitality industry is using real-time data to profile clients and manage energy in his section “Integrated Information Technology Is the New IT.” Evolving nationwide concepts like GridWise are also playing a part.

Enterprise Integration Connecting Building Systems to Business Systems

I have extracted part of an interview with Paul Ehrlich that appeared on the AutomatedBuilding.com website as part of the coverage for this year’s Enterprise@BuilConn Track.

Ehrlich has established the Building Intelligence Group, an independent consultancy whose primary purpose is to help system suppliers, as well as building owners and managers, to maneuver their operations through the vast changes prompted by enterprise building management.

Sinclair: What exactly is enterprise integration?


Ehrlich: In the past, we have always considered buildings to be operated in a largely standalone manner. The concept of enterprise integration is that groups of buildings can now be centrally managed and also that we can connect building systems to business systems.


Sinclair: How does enterprise integration compare to systems integration?


Ehrlich: Systems integration is the process of connecting building systems together within a facility to provide a common user interface and also to achieve functionality between systems.


Examples of systems integration are connecting all of the HVAC equipment together into a cohesive system or connecting together card access, lighting control, and HVAC so that when an employee swipes a card after hours, the lights and HVAC come on.


Enterprise integration is more at a management level. For example an enterprise integration may look at all of the energy use from a group of buildings in several states, read utility rates in real time, and then place all of the buildings into a particular energy saving mode based on the rate. A second example would be bringing critical building parameters up to the enterprise then using that information to make maintenance decisions.


Sinclair: I understand that the focus this year of BuilConn is on what is real, more so than what is possible. Who is actually using enterprise integration?


Ehrlich: We see owners with large portfolios of buildings already using or looking to use these systems. For example “big box” retailers, college campuses, and large corporate real estate owners.

Another example of real-time data combined with the enterprise changing the business model is found in “Automation Takes a Bite Out of the $400+ Billion Commercial Food Service Industry” by Michael Burdett, vic president of sales and marketing, Arecont Systems, Inc. The article is posted on our website, www.automatedbuildings.com
Burdett stated that real-time data “accommodates unique hospitality features such as temperature logging, drive-through timers, soda fountain monitoring, DVR camera integration, sign and lighting control, power monitoring, climate systems control, and still maintains an open design structure that makes it configurable for virtually any control task you can dream up.

The future of the power grid

Rob Pratt, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and GridWise supporter explains the concept thusly:

“GridWise is a common vision for the future of the power grid, shared by a new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program initiative and an industry alliance. It holds that information technology will profoundly transform the planning and operation of the power grid from central generation down to customer appliances and equipment. The grid’s transformation into a collaborative network filled with information and a myriad of market-based opportunities will enable distributed, real-time markets and control to integrate the traditional elements of supply and demand, transmission, and distribution with new technologies such as distributed generation, and customer load management.”

The option of losing complete electrical power to our buildings or dropping to a lower level of consumption is an easy decision to make. We have the capability and the technology to take action in less than a second in today’s fully integrated buildings. The enterprise wants to become part of the solution when they consider the catastrophic option of total disconnection. The advantage of GridWise thinking is that it allows action and reaction to minor electrical distribution problems, as well as to major generation problems. All those involved have the opportunity to provide shared solutions.

Who would have thought that the synchronization of real-time electrical information would turn buildings into an active part of the national electrical grid, increasing building reliability while at the same time providing instant energy accounting information into the enterprise? IBT

Recent Articles by Ken Sinclair

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