I have been extremely impressed by the recent efforts of the BACnet® consortium in marketing their product. BACnet® has had a long and rocky road to achieve consensus and become the global standard that it is today. It has been driven by the hard work of many talented people who, when pressed, to tell the world of their achievements are quick to point out that it is "not quite done yet." Well, we live in a world of "not quite done yet," so we have to build that into everything as active dialog and structure.

In the past, the strong supporters of BACnet have donated an incredible number of engineering hours to hash out the minute details of this global standard. I am pleased that they now are increasing their efforts and pooling their marketing resources to market BACnet the way it should be. History has proven that great concepts do not always win, but well-marketed great concepts do.

This Month's BACnet Conference & Expo

During the week of October 23-25, the 7th BACnet Conference & Expo will be held in Nashville, TN. For more information, a special website has been created just for the conference at www.BACnetConference.org.

This event is primarily an educational conference for endusers, consultants, and integrators who want to learn more about ASHRAE standard 135-2004, BACnet - A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks. Attendees will have a varied range of experience with BACnet and there will be presentations geared for each type of attendee. Topics will include: the current state of BACnet, an introduction to BACnet, specifying BACnet, enduser implementations, understanding the device profiles and listings from the BACnet Testing Laboratories (BTL), an induction to BACnet Web services, network planning and design, and the future of BACnet.

Here is more insight from an interview with Jon Williamson, BACnet Conference & Expo chairman.

Sinclair: The BACnet protocol is well recognized as a popular open protocol. What can we expect from the BACnet Conference & Expo?

Williamson: The BACnet Conference & Expo is designed as an educational event for endusers and consultants. The need for interoperability and open protocols is getting to be well understood. The conference will answer many of the questions surrounding the use of open protocols and making them work efficiently and effectively for the building owner. The BACnet protocol provides much more than a way to share data. The BACnet protocol can also provide interoperable trends, schedules, alarms, and device management. The attendees will learn how to utilize the full power of BACnet to their advantage.

Sinclair: When it comes to interoperability, building owners can be skeptical about the end result. Are you addressing this concern?

Williamson: That's why we are making the "expo" portion of the conference much different than expos where each booth is its own island. Dozens of the vendor booths will be wired together and connected for BACnet interoperability at the BACnet Conference. On October 25th, a formal demo of multi-vendor, multi-system BACnet interoperability will be given. You are right; it has come to the point where building owners say, "I'll believe it when I see it!" At the BACnet Conference & Expo, they will be able to see BACnet in action.

Sinclair: Will the conference be geared for the BACnet newbie or the seasoned BACnet veteran?

Williamson: The conference will have educational programs for every level of BACnet background knowledge. General sessions will present topics that will interest all attendees such as the "BACnet State of the Union Address," the "Future of BACnet" discussion and, not to forget, the interoperability demo. Breakout sessions will be designed to let attendees choose between introductory BACnet topics and more advanced BACnet topics.

From an article on the AutomatedBuildings.com website titled, "The Growth of Open Systems," I have extracted these words in praise of open systems.

These new generations of global controllers are packed with features. Most notably however, they incorporate simplified toolsets which eliminate many of the challenges associated with integrating/intermingling these open protocols. We are sure to see further cost reductions through the logical evolution of today's more intelligent field devices and controllers. Lower cost solutions combined with a shorter turn around time to achieve project ROI will ultimately succeed in accelerating widespread market acceptance and growth.

Backing BACnet is important to the building automation industry. It is the only protocol that has been created with its roots in the HVAC industry while achieving global ASHRAE consensus. Although there is still much consensus that must occur with the IP world with BACnet Web services, please join me in giving this strong industry open standard your backing. ES