The complexities of making buildings smart and the role of the Master Systems Integrator (MSI)
Making buildings as smart as they can be takes planning and early engagement. It is a practice every building operator must consider but one that building managers can often become fearful of.
How smart is ‘smart’ and how complex is the process?
At Forest Rock we understand your challenges to connect and integrate software, systems, products and machines so we developed a Digital landscape to help you on the journey.
We unlock the data to drive efficiency in operations, processes, maintenance and utilities consumption to create a truly Smart and connected building.
One overlooked issue in making a smart building smart is interoperability. This is when different systems are specified from manufacturers that use products and protocols that don’t easily integrate with others. Many will have either closed or open protocols meaning they all talk different languages, and many are not developed for the IoT world of MQTT protocols. To connect to the variety of systems, you need a variety of different technologies or drivers at your fingertips. At Forest Rock our expertise is in finding and engineering suitable systems that talk to these devices in the building and then in turn allow for all devices to communicate together to work in harmony.
This issue is also applicable to older systems such as standard BMS, many of which need to be brought to latest specification that requires software and drivers to be written or new systems to be installed. This is also true of sensors and systems which are already in situ, are they fit for purpose in the IoT world? Do they communicate and provide the level of information and controls needed for smart building and smart operations?
The issue of value engineering, which can result in the removal of integration middleware, is also a concern when making buildings smart. The central/middleware platform that connects all the systems and sensors and devices within a building that is part of the design specification is sometimes removed from the specification at points of build or refurbishment. Often this is because there is a lack of understanding for the need for such devices which can then be seen as surplus to requirements.
It is because of these complexities in the creation of smart buildings that the role of the Master Systems Integrator (MSI) is growing. Master Systems Integrators glue all the systems together to make not only the buildings smart but the systems smart.
Attention should also be given to visibility, particularly when it comes to data and analytics. If thought has not been given to what the building occupiers or managers want from the data first, then connected systems won’t deliver the desired insights. The data needs to come together into a centralized Digital Platform to deliver the output of the connected systems and the smart building.
The key is to engage at early design stages (RIBA 2) onwards such that the technologies have been developed and designed to provide the desired outcomes and integration required by the client.