Powerful IoT Connectivity Enables Intelligent Buildings

Posted by Chuck Harrell on May 5, 2016 11:00:00 AM

SmartBuilding.jpgIoT technology is elevating traditional buildings from limited automation to real intelligence, increasing our comfort and convenience with enriched user experience and giving more consideration to environmental friendliness.  A building is typically composed of a number of systems, including electrical power, water, lighting, HVAC, door entrance, video surveillance, etc.  In the past, these systems might have limited automatic or intelligent functions on their own, without interconnection or interaction.   For example, the administrators of an office building use a switch panel to remotely control lighting in different areas of the building and use a separate switch for HVAC control.

Now, with IoT technology, all devices can be connected to the internet for data transmission and processing.  The building administrators may sit in a central control room viewing data displayed on the dashboard to oversee the overall situation in the building and control lighting or air conditioning to maximize comfort and efficiency.

To make a building more intelligent, iBuilding solution designers often have to face the reality that the building already has multiple equipment and systems that use different interface, control logic, and communication  methods. The biggest challenge is how to connect all these pieces of equipment and systems to an IoT platform and transfer data in a unified protocol to enable intelligent control and management.

Solution

Advantech provides an IoT gateway solution for iBuildings that includes ready-to-run hardware and software platform and cloud access, enabling iBuilding solution developers to bring control of all equipment and devices to centralized management and push data to the cloud efficiently.  This solution uses Advantech's gateway system with Advantech's unique iDoor modules-a series of mini-PCIe cards providing varied functional I/O ports such as isolated/non-isolated COM, CANBus, LAN, digital I/O, printer, and much more, which users can select to connect with different interfaces of existing equipment and devices.

The Advantech WISE-PaaS/RMM software suite is deployed at the gateway and server sides.  With the aid of WISE-agent software tool, the gateway can transform formats of data collected from sensors and devices into IoT-standard MQTT communication protocol and send the unified data to a central platform.   This is how the solution enables the connection of all devices and helps complete cross-system integration.  At this point, the formerly separate and independent systems in the building have become sub-systems for a large integrated system aimed at intelligent control and management.  At the server side, the WISE-PaaS/RRM software kit can be used to facilitate the development of device management and other applications.  The kit includes a dashboard builder and 100+ RESTful APIs for developers to build up user interfaces on both Advantech WISE-PaaS/RMM and WebAccess/SCADA platforms for various applications.  RESTful API is essential and allows the Advantech solution to easily connect up different applications and devices.

With this solution, users can easily develop applications including remote controls such as automated HVAC adjustment according to monitored air condition; energy saving functions such as automated switching of lighting during work hours or off-hours; environmental monitoring functions such as indoor air quality indicators including CO2 and PM2.5.   All data can be pushed to the cloud to accumulate into big data for future analyses to assist the management staff in developing their strategic policies.

Once a developer completes an iBuidling project, the IoT framework, including how devices can be connected and flow control, can be exported to be reused in another project so that the developer can save a lot of programming effort when developing a new system.  The developer only has to edit and make some changes to certain modules or add newly created functions.

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