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In the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), data collection is the heart of the IoT body. Now, we are standing at the frontier of the IoT movement and are witnessing the emergence of smart homes, connected cars, and smart cities. In the midst of the cutting edge technology we often write off IoT as a pie in the sky, while picturing everyone driving around in driverless cars. However, the crux of this movement is not about the shiny new building and gadgets, but rather changing the way we interact with data. So how can we move one step towards an intelligent future and that high tech, sci-fi city in the movies?
The simple answer is to improve the way we collect, analyze, and interact with data.
Take any wearable fitness tracker. It’s a small sensor that collects real-time data on our body and gives insights into our health. Nothing is fundamentally changing our bodies by wearing a fitness tracker, but the data collected allows us to make adjustments based on individual needs and ultimately helps us reduce health risks. If your goal is to increase your activity level, your fitness tracker will compile and analyze your activity data in real-time and can send you alerts to let you know if you have reached your daily goal, or a friendly reminder to get physical before the end of the day. The power of real-time data analysis and the ability to take immediate action is what makes real-time data so important.
Apply the same concept to infrastructure. When a facility is first built, a Building Management System (BMS) is usually present. A BMS is a hard-wired system that controls and monitors a building’s mechanical and electrical systems. A BMS is quickly outdated, however, and are notoriously capital and labor intensive to upgrade and install, similar to major surgery. As a building facility ages, systems become less efficient and the risk of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) system break down increases.
To combat efficiency issues, data loggers are commonly used for energy audits to record and store data for a period of time. Similar to the human body, we go to the doctor for check-ups to combat illness and to make sure everything is okay. The challenge with data loggers is that once the data has been collected and analyzed, recommendations are made for repairs or optimizations, and the data logger is no longer relevant once adjustments are made. Without the power of real-time analysis, the latent data interaction is limited to a small screenshot of a much larger picture at hand of a facility’s current condition.
We can easily tell when our bodies are sick, but often times a facility won’t show a problem until it’s too late. This is where the IoT movement and real-time data collection comes into play. Using small, nimbly upgradable sensors that constantly monitor and communicate, facility managers can get a comprehensive picture of MEP systems within a facility at anytime from anywhere. Water damage is one of the most common and costly issues in facility management, often discovered after the fact. In older facilities, areas with high risk for water damage can be monitored in real-time with leak detection or humidity sensors that send alerts directly to facility managers when there the presence of water or an increase in humidity is detected. Real-time data analysis leads to a faster response time and improved tenant safety, productivity, and comfort. As this data is collected, it can be compiled and correlated to forecast risk based on a historical baseline, allowing facility managers to move from a reactive management towards a risk preventive approach.
To conclude, increased data visibility brings forth the ability to scale quickly across portfolios of infrastructure. If we take a step back and take a closer look at the direction of the IoT movement, we see that the power of real-time data analysis and scalability is what makes smart cities and an intelligent future just within our grasp. As the way we interact with data changes and IoT technology is further implemented, real-time data will soon become a standard tool used to transform the way we problem solve.