After 12 months, BIM Academy has successfully concluded the Smart Connected Buildings project where we have been hard at work researching the feasibility of a building performance measurement and advice platform currently lacking in the building industry. Smart Connected Buildings set out to be an intelligent data platform integrating building design information, sensor data and user feedback, producing meaningful alerts and actionable advice for occupiers, building owners and those who build and maintain properties.

Since our last blog where we interviewed Your Homes Newcastle, a social landlord who highlighted a need to be alerted to problems such as high humidity to reduce maintenance costs and complaints, the prototype has been developed further to meet these requirements.

 

Fig 2: Smart Connected Buildings dashboard

 

The tool is now receiving live sensor data from seven social homes. Fig 3 shows how the data from various sensors gets displayed in realtime with graphs giving a quick 24 hour snapshot of the environment.

 

Fig 3: Data from a sensor linked to a room gets displayed in realtime

 

Users will also be able to customise the timeframe and interval allowing them to pinpoint problems.

Users can now create alerts; Fig 4 shows an example which triggered because the humidity rose above the level defined in an alert rule. An alert can be made up of one, or many different rules. Each rule has a comparison operator such as greater than or less than, and a value which gets compared against. This value can either be an average over a period of time, making rules possible such as “humidity greater than 20c on average for the past week” or a distinct value within a timeframe such as “electricity consumption greater than 2000KWh in the past year.”

 

Fig 4: A triggered alert

 

A user creates alerts and rules with the form shown in Fig 5 which makes the alert system very flexible.

 

Fig 5: A form lets a user create alerts on any data input

 

Customisable alerts are great for the industry as it creates a feedback loop. A key use case for the alert system we highlighted was humidity, specifically to reduce the number of complaints and minimise the costs incurred by catching the problem early on. Currently, it is possible to deploy the dashboard on a client by client basis and we are already in discussions with a social landlord to do just that. The dashboard can also get deployed as a tool to help highlight issues such as performance gaps where required.

The next steps and our aspirations are to seek additional funding to develop the prototype into a commercial grade software as a service product on a subscription basis. To make this possible, further refinements and additional features would need developing, but based on the lessons learnt and the work done so far, we have the solid foundation to do this.

The types of additional features we would like to develop include extracting data from SAP reports which contain useful information such as the estimated energy consumption of a building. These values could be tied into the current alert system to automatically create rules and alerts which will be triggered if the estimates get exceeded, an example of this is shown in Fig 6.

 

Fig 6: Next steps include taking in data from reports such as SAP so alerts can be set if estimates are exceeded.

 

We are seeking partners and additional funding to gather more data which we can then apply techniques such as Machine Learning. These techniques could help gain valuable insight used to develop and deliver the actionable advice capabilities.

The 3D model viewer shown in Fig 7 could also be refined, the model viewer would add interesting visualisation capabilities such as real-time sensor data, alerts and advice shown within the model.

 

Fig 7: 3D model viewer highlighting a selected space could get extended to visualise sensor data and alerts

 

Based on the needs of the project, we expanded our technical services team by recruiting an additional computer scientist. Moving forward, we are very much looking forward to working with more clients to assist with their technical needs. More information about our technical services can be found here.