The “internet of things” is growing – and continually dropping costs mean it may become a viable option for more facilities.
The term refers to facilitating communication between devices wirelessly – a vital component of intelligent building automation networks. These devices offer more plug-and-play functionality than ever, and they’re poised to facilitate easier demand response partnerships between utilities and individual facilities.
Partially driving this change is the growth of devices using the building’s existing IP network – the same thing your VOIP phone uses. This option is growing in popularity, according to Tobin Richardson, chairman and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance, and Varun Nagaraj, senior vice president of Echelon, developer of an open standard networking platform for energy management.
“You have the ability now to create these seamless networks and move, add, and change very quickly,” Nagaraj says. “It makes the provisioning of networks easier and reduces cost. That’s the advantage of adopting an IP to the end device concept.”
As IP sensors and controls for lighting, temperature, and other systems become available, the need for separate networks dedicated specifically to building management devices will drop, streamlining ongoing network management. At the same time, Richardson and Nagaraj say, the cost of creating IP sensors and controls will come down, ultimately enabling both wider and faster deployment.
“Different devices in very specific market segments are being intelligently managed together instead of requiring different networks,” Richardson says. “By extension, what you’ll see is ease of use for the end customer. Call it the ‘internet of things’ or call it the connected world, but we’re starting to see that as a reality.”