The Thinking Version of Things

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Curated by Vinay Prabhakar Minj 

Transforming a building into a smart one is not just about making it energy efficient, it is also about reducing resource usage and optimising the space.

Intelligence for Internet of Things (IoT) is as vital as the brain for human body. A system with connected sensors and no intelligence is not Internet of Things, it’s just Things.

Connected sensors are the ‘Things’ in the IoT world, and when intelligence is added to the system, it becomes smart. Today, almost everything is smart…from smart buildings to smartphones. To be smart, it is important that there is intelligence embedded in the Things of the Internet of Things.

In order to get that intelligence in IoT, one of the key ingredients required is data. And on top of that we add valued services, which implies that the data is understood and interpreted in such a way that it becomes capable of making meaningful and informed decisions.

Smart buildings: A use case of intelligence in IoT

All  huge enterprise buildings are enabled with HVAC system, which refers to heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Such systems use 70 percent of the available energy, the rest 30 percent is utilised by lights, fans, etc.

These HVAC systems can be made smarter with the help of sensors.  For example, in an office space, we can place a sensor which is capable of detecting the presence of a person and based on that lighting systems can be switched ON or OFF.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY COMES NOT ONLY WITH SMART APPARATUS AND SYSTEMS BUT ALSO WITH INCREASED USE OF ALTERNATIVE RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY.

Every building will have its own use case or goal. For instance, a retail building would like to optimize the energy as well as have more insights on how the people are coming in as retailers have more interest in ‘how they store their system and how supply can be managed’. But the goal is different for an office building or hospital building.

Nonetheless, being energy efficient is one of the prime goals of all the buildings. Other common goals are improving the operational efficiency and comfort of the occupants.

A smart building is more than just being energy efficient  

Transforming a building into a smart one is not just about making it energy efficient,  it is also about reducing resource usage and optimising the space. If the data is collected and meaningfully analysed, then optimization could be achieved.

Predictive maintenance is another key aspect. It can be implemented if the defect in the system is understood through the data that is acquired.

IOT-ENABLED SYSTEMS CAN SAVE UPTO 10 TO 15 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL ANNUAL ENERGY COST AND PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE CAN SAVE 20-30 PERCENT OF FAILURES AND DOWNTIME.

How do we increase occupants’ comfort?

This is the mechanism we follow to enable this – Collect data and apply analytics, then gather meaningful insights and take decisions based on that.

While all of this is regarding the newly constructed buildings which can be equipped with sensors and it is not possible for old buildings. However, still there is something we can do for old buildings without smart sensors.

How old buildings without smart sensors can be made smart?

Old buildings without smart sensors or fixtures can still be optimised for energy usage with the help of intelligent systems of rule-based efficiency modules.

All old buildings will essentially have energy meters. Several components of the HVAC system are “energy hoggers” and there is an energy meter associated with each of these. Through these energy meters, we can get the data of the energy hogger equipments of the old buildings

And after analysing the data for energy usage, we can come up with modules that can help you to decide whether you are using that energy optimally or sub-utilising or over-utilising it. It can also detect fault through identification of abnormal usage. And all this is achieved by using machine learnt algorithms.

So the key takeaways to ponder upon are:-

  • Robust AI approaches can make old buildings capable of being intelligent without smart sensors.
  • Machine Learning approach used to make “Things” in IoT thinking is primarily an energy efficiency module. However, it has other key smart aspects like preventive maintenance through early alarm system.
  • Energy efficiency comes not only with smart apparatus and systems but also with increased use of alternative renewable sources of energy.
  • Monitoring use of different energy sources also becomes vital to detect any fault in the system.

For buildings which are known to use 42 percent energy in the western countries, IoT-enabled systems can save upto 10 to 15 percent of the total annual energy cost and proactive maintenance can save 20-30 percent of failures and downtime.

About the author

This article is an extract from a speech delivered by Sattwati Kundu, Data Scientist, IoT IBM Software Labs, at the IOTSHOW.IN 2019.

She has a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and upstream oil and energy industry. On her own LinkedIn profile, she describes herself as “strong engineering professional skilled in Petroleum science, reservoir management, Data Analysis and Predictive modelling.”

Longjam Dineshwori

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