Definition of the objectives and principles of the smart project

The issues of the digital building and the profusion of new digital services

A digital building is a building that makes it possible to respond to the major challenges of our time :

  • Social and environmental responsibility

  • Improving the living and working environment of the occupants

  • Achieving business operational objectives in terms of cost optimization, improved productivity, image, space flexibility, etc.

  • Risk management and compliance with increasingly numerous and restrictive standards and regulations

Each of these objectives has many use cases. The digital building meets these objectives by providing suitable, relevant and reliable digital applications which will be more and more numerous. The main role of these applications is, for each use case, to extract and restore meaning from the extremely large, heterogeneous and complex building data.

The quality of applications and the cost of setting up and maintaining services

We must therefore solve two problems to produce a real digital building :

  • Management of the multitude of applications. How can the deployment of these numerous applications be made economically and technically viable?

  • Management of the quality of the digital services deployed. How to access all the data and put them in quality in order to provide quality services?

This second point is particularly critical in the building world where systems operate in silos, are installed and integrated by different teams without cross-functional IT supervision or a global vision of a rational information system.

The quality approach on building data

The quality, completeness and control of data are therefore at the heart of the move towards smart building. The implementation of a data quality approach is essential. It is based on three pillars:

  • A rich and contextualized data model: the digital twin

  • A controlled and high-quality data processing chain (or information system): the BIS (Building Information System) implementing compatible applications and a BOS making it possible to rationalize and orchestrate exchanges between applications

  • The organization of a quality process supervising the work of the actors responsible for the implementation of systems producing data: smart batch or the BIS (Building Information System) approach supervising the work of system integrators (BMS, SSI, CMMS, GTPAO, Access ...) and actors of the BIM package (BIM manager, BIM coordinators, BIM Modeller ...)

Define the digital twin and universal API of the building!

The building implements and must be capable of implementing a great number of applications, of information systems... which are so many sources of data, as the "data source" part of the diagram above shows. Historically closed, the big majority of these systems is starting to open up by communicating on IP networks and supplying documented APIs. The SBA (Smart Building Alliance) has played a major role in that sense.

This opening is very important. It permits to include the different silos in the IT standards. But some difficulties persist due to the profusion of APIs of different natures or to the diversity and heterogeneity of the access points...

The BOS unifies and rationalizes the lot:

  • The digital twin is the data model unifying and contextualizing the building data in terms of description, state, history and behaviour.

  • The BOS is the digital twin database management software

  • The universal API above the BOS is the unique and secured access point to all the building data never mind its original source.

The digital twin and the universal API of the building make the building enter the digital age and the IT standards.

Define the basis applications and information on the future evolution

The digital project organizes the implementation of a "data governance infrastructure" (the BOS) and a "universal API of the built environment" that allows the deployment of numerous digital applications with a high-level quality and digital scalability for the building during the whole of its life-cycle.

Of course, the infrastructure is not sufficient and it is necessary to deliver a building with already functional applications. But, it is not essential to specify all the future potential applications. That the whole purpose of the implementation of such an infrastructure. Each application or system that will respect the principle and the data charts may then be integrated to the global information system (IP communication, open APIs, data common referential sharing...).

We advise you to prepare a basis application table to deploy for the delivery and another optional table presenting the applications and study cases that could be considered later on. The double-barrelled study cases lists do not bring any value to the answer and often render it confusing.

One must understand that no company, even the most notorious, is in the capacity of supplying all the building's digital services in one and only platform. The final information system will therefore be composed of an ecosystem of applications coming from different editors but that are able to collaborate together thanks to the implemented common infrastructure of data governance (the BOS). The example of Windows.

We will soon share a concrete example of an applications list to facilitate this specification.

Define the links and data trades between applications

The applications, making them "compatible"... The technical translation of these terms implicates that there must be a concrete sharing of data, data exchanges between applications. The smart project has to be able to answer these two pitfalls:

  1. What kind of data exchanges must be established?

  2. How do applications who do not speak the same language understand each other?

To answer the first question, a "data file" must be set up. This file lists for each expected study case (application), the useful big datasets. This file helps visualize the important interactions between applications and data and therefore it helps understand which are the common and shared data games between numerous applications.

Within the scope of the building, 2 datasets(or more) have a major importance and must be shared, we call them shared referential:

  • The building occupants' directory, often shared with all the applications offering services to the occupants. For example, the LDAP managed by IT has as main function to maintain, share and play the role of trusted third-party for the occupant referential.

  • The building's description, which all the applications functioning within the building need to describe spaces, rooms, equipment... The BOS has as the first function to maintain, share and play the role of trusted third-party for the building description referential.

To answer the second question, there are 2 solutions:

  • "Spaghettiware" version: making translations between the applications two by two. It's long, expensive and difficult to maintain!

  • "Middleware" version : implementing a common language and data models (a digital twin). Either each application can adapt to this common language or they can supply their translator with the common language. A digital architecture of the building resting on a BOS follows this principle.