Nexus #12 (3/3/2020)

IQ tests for buildings; Guide to occupancy sensors; Monetizing smart building tech

👋 Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter for people applying analytics and other smart building technology—written by James Dice.

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And by the way: if you missed last week’s edition, you can find it here.


My latest ideas

+ Why building analytics are inevitable—my response to a recent discussion questioning whether analytics will go mainstream. I’ve also tried something new with this post: adding your ideas from LinkedIn into the essay. Thanks to Drew DePriest, Terry Herr, Nick Gayewski, Ed Buckley, Joel Urban, and Derek Cowburn for lending their wisdom.

+ The latest LinkedIn discussion:

Who owns the data?

Smart building vendors can claim the data they collect is owned by the owner of the building—but when you look under the hood that’s not always true.

If the vendor makes it nearly impossible for the owner to use the data without first going through the vendor, then doesn’t the vendor own it?

This thread has some great discussion and insights from our community.

What are your keys to ensuring data access and ownership?

Add your thoughts!


Ideas from elsewhere

+ Stop Calling Your Building Smart, Prove It (Propmodo)

Like many words that seem to spring up out of nowhere to become a shared piece of the lexicon, smart building is a term that we all understand on a superficial level. We use it without hesitation and nod in understanding when it gets used, assuming that the other party in the communication must have a full grasp on what it means. But that is the problem: we don’t agree on its meaning.

This article is a great intro to the forthcoming Intelligent Buildings Index and to smart building scorecards in general. We have a gap in our industry: there’s no roadmap to the promised land, so how can we expect owners to start their journey?

Until we can make it easier for all parties to understand the links between the required enablers and real outcomes of building intelligence, then investment, planning and innovation processes will remain rudderless.

Aside from the IB Index, which doesn’t exist yet but is supposedly coming soon, I’ve recently seen two other attempts at assigning intelligence scores to buildings:

Now, readers, I’m asking you:

What other smart building scoring systems are out there? Hit reply and let me know.


+ Comfy’s Guide to Occupancy Sensors for the Modern Workplace—I’ve mostly specified occupancy sensors as an energy-saving device. This article is a great intro to enhancing the office employee’s experience and to better informing workplace decisions using occupancy sensors.

Similar to our recent discussion on KPIs in Nexus #10, it’s no longer enough to specify building technology with one single, siloed purpose. We must consider the owner’s overall goals for the facility first—everything else plays a supporting role.

P.S. Although I’m not a marketer, I think this piece should be an example for marketers in our space. Comfy’s app is mentioned several times, but it’s not the focus. The focus is on educating the reader. How novel!


+ Miraculous or Mundane on the Next Story Up podcast—The above use case for occupancy sensors is an example of a monetizable impact of smart building technology. This episode on the Next Story Up podcast insightfully outlines four major monetizable impacts that cut across different building type verticals:

  1. optimizing how spaces are being used

  2. optimizing space conditions

  3. optimizing the occupant experience

  4. optimizing facility services

This means that for each solution, we should consider how it impacts each category. Let’s return to occupancy sensors. A simple occupancy sensor could be monetized in so many ways:

  • If a part of the building is not used much, sell it off, sublease it, or target it for increased density (#1: space use)

  • If a part of the building is overcrowded, provide wayfinding to occupants to other areas using alternates routes (#2: space conditions)

  • If a reserved conference room is empty, cancel the reservation and notify the next person that needs one (#3: occupant experience)

  • If a room wasn’t used very much today, share that data with the cleaning service to reduce cleaning labor and fees ( #4: facility services)

  • If there is an emergency, use occupancy data to inform responders where people are/were (#4: facility services)

  • If the room is empty, switch the HVAC system to standby mode (#2: space conditions)

How does your technology affect these four areas of monetizable value?


OK, that’s all for this week—thanks for reading Nexus!

If you have thoughts on this week’s edition, head on over to LinkedIn:

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