Connected equipment, devices, HVAC control systems, lighting, sensors, and smart building technology mean we have a greater wealth of data than we’ve ever had before. Technology and solution providers around the world will tell you, however, that data itself is meaningless if it’s not harnessed to provide owners, operators, and facility managers with valuable insights. These insights help transform both day-to-day operations and the long-term facility management that addresses operational efficiency, occupant comfort, health, and safety. Today’s systems, generate a great deal of data that may be leveraged towards optimal equipment performance and efficiency.

In spite of all of the talk, use cases, an abundance of smart technology, and smart solutions available today to take advantage of, I am amazed at how many data dinosaurs are still roaming around in the built environment.

So, how do you know if you are a data dinosaur?
You’re a Data Dinosaur if: 

  • You underestimate the value of data within the built environment.
  • You think the only way to collect data is through a manual process.
  • You think all data needs to reside in the cloud.
  • You do not realize that buildings are sitting on treasure troves of data that can support smarter operating and investment decision-making.
  • You do not think data has rapidly become critical to operating a commercial building.
  • You do not know how to access your building’s data or know if it is secure. 
  • You do not know that you can unlock vendor data that’s currently in siloed systems.
  • You do not think data from different sources is interoperable.
  • You do not know that there are standardized data and tagging models that simplify the interpretation of data collected across the building’s different systems.
  • You do not believe that data allows building owners/operators to better manage risk and create smart buildings.

So, for all of those data dinosaurs still lurking out there, what is the best way to add data into your world?

Start by developing a strategy that includes a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish, develop key performance indicators (KPIs), outline desired business outcomes, and explore how success will be measured.
 After that, start by identifying what data is already available to you. Categorize it by identifying what data/information is needed by different people and groups involved in the building’s daily operations to successfully perform their work.

Much of the data will be from points on building systems, but other data may come from other business systems. For example, asset data, energy usage data, and service/repair data — all of which may come from systems outside of the facility management department or even outside the organization.

Then, identify where the data exists, how it can be accessed/collected, how it will be exchanged, and estimate the volume. In all these cases, it is highly beneficial to decide on a "standardized dictionary" for such data. This would include naming conventions and semantic modeling using “tags.”

Data always matters to any company, regardless of size, sector, or type.

The built environment is rapidly becoming digitized. It is no longer lagging behind other industries when it comes to accessing, organizing, and utilizing data. The companies who are able to take full advantage of this seismic shift will thrive, while those who wait for the dust to settle will be left trying to catch up. Data is an irreplaceable asset.

This column first appeared in the June issue of See the original article in its entirety at