What’s in a Name? Soon, a Location

We are fast approaching the day when all of the sensors, actuators and other assets attached to an Internet-connected building automation network have a common way of communicating their name and location. The global telecommunications  industry is throwing its weight behind the effort under the umbrella trade organization TM Forum, with leadership from the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) for location-service standards.

Geopositioning of Will Smith in Enemy of the State

Geopositioning of Will Smith in Enemy of the State

To date, controls professionals and their collaborating architects, mechanical engineers, code officials, general contractors, building owners, facilities operators etc. have not had a common naming convention. Or, to put it in the words of computer scientists, the world lacks a building automation and control ontology.  Everyone who services buildings would benefit from predefined and universally understood device names and the equivalent of a GPS in every BACnet controller.  No one enjoys time spent lifting ceiling tiles and testing connections to solve all the mysteries and errors in building blueprints and control schematics.

Progress in bringing physical buildings into the digital world has been severely hampered by the ontology void. Project Haystack, an open source initiative within the building automation community, has brought awareness to the problem and some progress through their efforts to develop tagging conventions and taxonomies for building equipment and operational data.  This project augments the definitions for data normalization, data use and communication for building controls that can be found in internationally recognized and supported standards from ASHRAE, ISO and IEC, such as ISO 61499.  Yet, none of these comprise an ontology. The telecommunications industry has now identified the issue as one of the barriers to wider adoption of smart grid, M2M networking and other services in the digital ecosystem.

A trade group for the Communications industry, TM Forum, is best known for the Frameworx suite of best practices and standards.  Craig Bachmann, Director, Industry Initiatives, TM Forum says, “As we invest in smart grid, M2M and digital health initiatives, integrating location standards into Frameworx has become critical to our success.”  That’s why TM Forum is engaging with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) to address location information issues. 

Regarding the ontology, the combined forces of TM Forum’s 900 communications-industry members and the 475 OGC member companies (government agencies, research organizations, and universities) should get the job done. With leadership from TM Forum and OGC, events like last April’s BACnet Ontology Hackathon have taken place.

Four out of five global communication service providers have adopted Frameworx. This has enabled the global Communications industry to move ahead as a unified force, rapidly introducing the successive waves of disruptive innovation that make today’s Cloud Era possible. TM Forum is now engaging with utilities around the world, exploring the possibility of a Frameworx for the Smart Grid. A BACnet ontology would be a key piece of this effort.

One of the first public showings of TM Forum and OGC collaboration was as part of the Smart Grid Catalyst Project, demo’ed at Digital Disruption 2013, October 28th-31st in San Jose. TM Forum accelerates industry thinking by organizing such rapid collaborative projects among member companies. Teams comprised of enterprises, service providers and suppliers are given four months to work together to create proof-of-concept solutions.  Hydro-Quebec and BC Hydro were co-champions of the project along with Cisco systems, with the participation of BaseN, Infonova, and TOA Technologies and support from Ericsson and Integrated Architectures (IAI), leader of the Security Fabric Alliance. Among the ten Catalyst Projects contending at this event, the Smart Grid project won the “Most Innovative Catalyst” award.

BaseN’s VP, Product Management, Anders Viden explained, “Applying new disruptive technologies and advanced networking models, utilities will be able to interact with customers in a whole new dimension. This Hydro-Quebec demonstration project focuses on how a digitally-enabled utility can both be more responsive to customers and address operational challenges.”

The OGC/TM Forum liaison should produce a consensus ontology soon – at least for the physical location aspect of the problem. The naming of topological locations is another issue, e.g. this sensor is downstream to that air handler. The ontology experts will likely build upon work like Project Haystack to crack this part of the problem.

Contributing Editor, automatedbuildings.com. Providing news and analysis of innovations in Buildings Control and Facilities Management that leverage Mobile Apps, Cloud Services and M2M Wi-Fi and Wireless Broadband networking.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in NEWS
3 comments on “What’s in a Name? Soon, a Location
  1. […] In addition to stellar marketing support, the app development community that collects around a given MNO’s platform would also need an SDK (software developer kit) that specifies wireless device connectivity.  Due to the potentially large volume of M2M connections involved in any deployment (every ballast in a building for a lighting control application, for example) a device connectivity platform is needed to automate the provisioning and decommissioning of SIMs (a holdover acronym meaning Subscriber Identity Modules) and to automate fault monitoring and policy management. Some big MNO’s, like Vodafone, have their own device connectivity platforms. Others partner with companies like Jasper Wireless and Ericsson for this capability. (Ericsson also provided  technology in the winning 2013 TM Forum Smart Grid Catalyst project that in….) […]

  2. […] platforms. Others partner with companies likeJasper Wireless and Ericsson for this capability. (Ericsson also provided  technology in the winning 2013 TM Forum Smart Grid Catalyst project that in….)  Expect these companies to start courting building automation app developers, in concert with […]

  3. […] the world.  I wrote more about mobile location services and semantic web efforts aimed at BACnet here. Note, the period for public comment on the OGC’s IndoorGML Standard will close on March […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Content Marketing Services

BuildingContext is a marketing partner that understands data-driven buildings. We can create compelling original content that speaks to your target audience. We'll also work to promote your messaging across blogs, social, search engines and other channels to attract, inform and convert the right people at the right time.

Follow @BuildingContext
%d bloggers like this: