If you are like me and are a little over whelmed by the sea of “C” words, let me use this column to try to provide some clarity. Oops, there are two more “C” words. Not sure why everything happening in our industry right now seems to begin with the letter “C,” but here is my shot at providing some cohesion. Darn, I did it again.

This newfound substance, “connectivity,” is no longer a concept. It is a reality that is changing how we work and what our industry will look like in the near future. Connectivity concepts such as the smart grid; the greening of buildings; better connections to everything, coupled with connections to powerful Web services; plus the notion of Buildings 2.0, are all creating new directions and markets for our industry. This requires that we all re-examine our core business models and make adjustments for connectivity.

Buildings 2.0 and Cisco Connected Real Estate

If my column could speak to you, what would it say? In a June podcast, Denis Du Bois, the “rational evangelist” for sustainable business and editor ofEnergy Prioritiesmagazine on AutomatedBuildings.com, shares his view on the current state of the industry.

Sinclair:What is your overall impression of the fifth annual BuilConn?

Du Bois:Encouraging. The level of interactivity around the Buildings 2.0 concept is remarkable. I liken it to the early days of LEED®. I’m looking forward to seeing that continue beyond the conference. This year feels like a turning point for the sector. I’m most impressed with the level of commitment and influence of the people here. The speaker list reads like a “Who’s Who” of building automation. These people are dedicated to shaping the future of the built environment.

Sinclair:The central themes of this year’s conference are Buildings 2.0 and Cisco Connected Real Estate. Are they blending together, or is there a clear distinction between them?

Du Bois:These two concepts are still in their formative stages, but the distinction is clear. I asked Rick Huijbregts, one of Cisco’s top people in the real estate vertical, to define Cisco Connected Real Estate. He said it’s a solution framework to tie all building systems into the same network. I interpret it as an IT strategy of converging on a common platform, with the primary goal of reducing costs and increasing productivity.

Hear more from Rick Hujibregts about the Cisco Connected Roundtable at http://energypriorities.com/entries/2007/05/cw07_day_1_insite.php.

Carter Williams, president of Gridlogix, has been very involved in Buildings 2.0. He defined it succinctly as the next stage in delivering value to building owners. It goes a step beyond Cisco Connected Real Estate, beyond the technologies. Buildings 2.0 is a shift toward bringing owners into the process and letting them define what “intelligent” means in their facility. Depending on each owner’s objectives, the goal might be energy, sustainability, maintenance, or something else altogether.

Hear more from Carter Williams about the Roadmap to Buildings 2.0 athttp://energypriorities.com/entries/2007/05/cw07_day2_insite.php.

Extracted from another article in the June issue of AutomatedBuildings.com titled, “Confluence, Convergences, Confusion ... Kaboom,”  by Allan M. Olbur,  the need to create standards for delivering automated building systems information in real time to first responders en route to an incident. Consider this thought:

“Cisco’s Connected Real Estate envisioned by John Chambers provides the cornerstone for creating a discrete network within a building or campus environment that can connect the internal local area network to the public wide area network. Their recent investment in digital signage provides a platform for expanding simultaneous communications to both the desktop and ‘public’ electronic signage network.

“ZigBee development to create a low power mesh network that is supported via the emergency power grid can transmit critical information over this discrete network that can be interconnected to the in-building local area network.

“In-building mass notification systems can now be augmented by simultaneous delivery of distress information to e-mails or handheld devices. Siemens, Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and the other proprietary vendors of sensory systems must be able to deliver the output of their technology to a standardized software system that can digest and assimilate the disparate data into flexible visual presentations that are uniform for first responders. This E-911 converged information must be conveyed directly to the display device at the PSAP without impediment and made simultaneously available to mobile displays within the vehicles of first responders. The emerging H264 standard for compressed video transmission is a step in the right direction.”