4 min read

The IDL's role in simplifying 'smart' [Nexus Newsletter #143]

This edition of the Nexus Newsletter is brought to you by Montgomery Technologies and enVerid Systems.


Hey friends,

As Passive Logic's CEO Troy Harvey said recently, buildings are the most complex things humans make.

Complexity is one of the reasons why the intelligence of buildings lags behind more simple objects.

Think about it: each building has tens of thousands of inputs and outputs on thousands of devices which are part of dozens of siloed systems that each have different technology stacks, sit on different networks, are managed by different vendors, and are changing each and every day.

Any technology that is overlayed on top of that mess must acknowledge, manage, and abstract away the messiness rather than ignore it.

And since today's buildings require many different types of overlayed software applications, I believe it's best to consolidate that effort and responsibility into a single data layer. Ideally one that's independent of the software applications—an independent data layer (IDL).

The IDL brings together all the data, devices, and systems from each building and unites it with data from third-party applications and elsewhere in the enterprise.  

If that's too abstract for you, let's cut the fluff.

Here are some (nerdy) real world examples of how data layer providers can abstract-away the complexity.

Data source abstraction

  • If room 101's occupancy counter data is streamed via MQTT and temperature data is updated hourly in a SQL database and IAQ data comes from a third-party API in the cloud, abstract that away.
  • When building A has occupancy counters and building B uses computer vision for people counting and building C has old fashioned PIR sensors, abstract that away.
  • If a new vendor gets deployed, abstract that away by allowing them (or anyone) to easily create a connector into the IDL.

API abstraction

  • When vendor A updates their API and changes the payload, abstract that away.
  • When vendor B and vendor C have drastically different API standards, abstract that away.
  • When building A has one brand of occupancy counter and building B has another, each with a different API, abstract that away.

Data model abstraction

  • When vendor E uses Haystack and vendor F uses Brick Schema, abstract that away.
  • When vendor B has whacky (on non-existent) data modeling, abstract that away.
  • If the BAS has 'alarms', the FDD provider has 'faults', the CMMS has 'tasks' and 'work orders', the energy management provider has 'ECMs' and 'tasks' and 'projects', the commissioning provider has 'punch list items', and the capital planning app has 'projects', abstract away all those similar and overlapping concepts that really just mean humans need to do stuff.
  • When one vendor calls it 'room 101' and another calls it 'The Tyrannosaurus Rex Conference Room', abstract that away.

Of course, "abstract that away" means that none of the application providers need to be concerned with the details.

What types of complexity did I miss?

Let us know on LinkedIn,

—James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs

P.S. Don't say I didn't warn ya: registration for Cohort 5 of Nexus Foundations closes next week.


A message from our partner, Montgomery Technologies:

Cybersecurity, change management, remote access, and data integrity across 8-10 siloed systems per building presents a significant challenge for CRE operations. Just knowing where everything is, how it is connected, and where it is connected can be too much for thinly-staffed corporate IT departments, whose primary function is to oversee the corporate network.

🎥 Watch this quick explainer video to learn how a converged network fills this gap, solves for all the above, and is the first step to enabling a Smart Building.


✖ At the Nexus

Here’s everything worth sharing from Nexus HQ this week:

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★ PODCAST: 🎧 #116: Integrating "smart" into the construction process with Charlie BuscarinoEpisode 116 is a conversation with Charlie Buscarino, the leader of a smart buildings consultancy called The Clarient Group.

Charlie’s team has a unique process for integrating the concept of a smarter building into the construction process, which has a long and storied history of creating dumb buildings. How do they do it? We go deep into it in this episode of the Nexus podcast.

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★ MEMBERS-ONLY EVENTS THIS MONTH:

  • New Member Orientation: Nexus Founder, James Dice, hosts an introduction to the Nexus Labs Community and how you access and take advantage of all the resources that come with your Pro Membership. This is for new members or those who've not taken advantage of all the resources at the Nexus Community. September 19th @ 9:00am MT
  • Subject Matter Expert Workshop: Pro Member and Building Optimisation Manager at AMP Capital, Tom Balme is our expert on Restructuring Maintenance Contracts and the Future Value of FDD. September 22nd @4pm MT
  • Member Gathering: Building Energy Engineer at Dartmouth College and Pro Member, Betsy Ricker, will lead the discussion on Dartmouth's smart buildings program. September 28th @9am MT

Join Nexus Pro now to get the invites and access to the recordings.

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★ ON LINKEDIN: What does the Inflation Reduction Act have in store for digital and decarbonized commercial buildings?

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★ READ OF THE WEEK: Why AI and machine learning are drifting away from the cloud

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★ JOBS: Are you hiring? Searching for a job in smart buildings?—We've relaunched the Nexus Labs Jobs Board and we've made job postings free.

It's got great jobs from Grosvenor Engineering Group, Virtual Facility, Siemens, Clockworks Analytics, Watts, LMRE, Altanova, Audette, and Altura.


A message from our partner, enVerid Systems:

Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) with optimized ventilation and air cleaning need not conflict with building decarbonization and climate resilience goals.

Read enVerid's new white paper, How to Achieve Sustainable Indoor Air Quality, to learn how a four-step Clean First approach can be used to design and operate low-energy, high-IAQ, climate resilient buildings of the future.


👋 That's all for this week. See you next Tuesday!

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways Nexus Labs can help you:

1. Take our shortcut to learning the Smart Buildings industry here (300 students and counting)

2. Join our community of smart buildings nerds and gamechangers here (400 members and counting)

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