Tech alliances form new smart building and automation initiative

BACnet International, KNX Association, OCF, Thread Group and the Zigbee Alliance have partnered to better align commercial buildings with users’ connectivity needs.

The alliances have collaborated under the IP Building and Lighting Standards, a new initiative aimed at improving the integration of smart building products.

The aim of the collaboration is to promote a secure multi-standard IP-based infrastructure as a backbone in building automation to replace the less efficient, still-widespread use of siloed solutions.

The associations will harmonise leading technology standards, reduce the fragmentation in smart building connectivity and promote a broad acceptance of coexistent solutions.

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Silo solutions as costly barriers

Currently, there is no automation technology available that covers all of the use-cases required to fully automate a commercial building. From elevators and energy management to lighting, water supply and air conditioning, to access control and surveillance systems: there are countless application scenarios for technologies in smart buildings.

However, some individual building systems still use a wide variety of proprietary solutions that often require separate hardware-based gateways and infrastructures. This fragmentation results in higher costs for planning, installation, maintenance, and administration of smart building projects. In addition, synergistic opportunities over the long-term remain unused.

The future is IP

In order to overcome these barriers, the members of IP-BLiS intend to combine light control and building management systems with IT networks by using a secure all IP-based configuration while harmonising the operation of their technical standards accordingly. This will allow data from a wide variety of building systems to be accessible via a single IP address.

There are several advantages to this approach. Hardware-based gateways become unnecessary, as various devices across some of the most diverse systems can communicate via a single secure IP connection, and it will be much easier to seamlessly integrate IoT products into existing smart buildings. Furthermore, an IP-based approach will significantly reduce effort and costs while increasing security, allowing smart building projects to become more scalable.

Worldwide commitment to IP

Through worldwide marketing and communication measures, IP-BLiS will enlighten the building automation market about the use of IP-based solutions, identify the security requirements that will be necessary for different regions and further influence legislation to increase adoption.

Andy McMillan, the president of BACnet International, said: “IP-BLiS is a powerful platform for communicating the value of IP in addressing the complexity and dynamic requirements of building information and control systems.”  

David McCall, president, Open Connectivity Foundation, adds: “Collaboration and cooperation are key to allowing the IoT to reach its full potential.”

Grant Erickson, President of Thread Group. “We believe that IP-BLiS will provide a crucial standard that smart buildings need to improve interoperability and reduce costs, improving the efficiency, functionality, automation, and safety of buildings such as offices, healthcare facilities, hotels, and schools.”