From silicon chips to smart phones – making technology work for you

No one buys technology just for the sake of technology. If that were the case, we might all have pockets full of silicon chips instead of smartphones. To have value, technology has to help people achieve more. It has to make life easier. By Neil Cameron, General Manager, Johnson Controls Building Efficiency

Building Management Systems (BMS), such as Metasys by Johnson Controls, do just that. They help facility managers control multiple systems and conditions using one tool, making management of the facility far easier and ensuring the buildings are more efficient. And while they’re doing all that, they’re also gathering enormous quantities of performance data.

Yet consider this, from a survey of the industry’s facility managers conducted last July: 93% of respondents indicated that they are currently using BMS. And the vast majority of them believe their BMS is keeping pace with other technologies. But only 22% of them say they’re completely satisfied with their systems.

The reason? Many facility managers aren’t taking advantage of the full capabilities of their BMS. They know the technology is great, they know lots of data is being gathered, and they know there’s value in it. But they don’t have the time or the resources to sift, sort and interpret it. So its value has remained locked up and beyond reach.

Neil Cameron
Neil Cameron, General Manager, Johnson Controls Building Efficiency

On the local front, South African companies are open to new technology and some of the most ambitious projects within Johnson Controls have emanated from South Africa. This is partly due to freeing human intelligence for higher achievements in South Africa and technology can perform the repetitive task of analysing data rather than requiring human intervention with enhanced functionality in the latest iterations of BMS technology.

How, then, do we make the data make more sense? That’s where a new and different kind of technology comes in.

The human brain gathers and interprets data through five senses—sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Of those five, sight is easily the most important. We’re hard-wired to process information visually.

Those smartphones we carry in our pockets take advantage of that fact every day with icons, simple on-screen tools and intuitive displays that make everything as simple and useful as possible

Visualisations simplify information, allowing our brains to focus on the important things. They help us see the patterns and connections. They help us understand, quickly and effortlessly. Visualisations unlock the value of data.

In recent years, the building efficiency industry has witnessed the rise of dashboards, which have simplified the process of aggregating data and displaying information like energy use and utility benchmarking, however, dashboards are just a starting point.

Today, applications and cloud-based solutions work in tandem with BMS systems to analyse vast amounts of data, transforming it into visuals that offer a clear picture of what’s going on, and a clear path to achieving more. These visualised forms of information help facility managers literally see how building systems are functioning, how they could and should be made to function better, how to make equipment last longer, and how to make everything—including people—work more efficiently. Many applications go beyond what dashboards can do.

Cloud-based solutions often reach beyond their sophisticated visualisation tools. Users also benefit from resources that help them structure, interpret and take action, including technical support, communities where like-minded people can share ideas and forums where industry experts lay out their visions of what the future holds.

Data is becoming the world’s most valuable resource, thanks to innovative tools that help us understand it. As new technology makes existing technology work better, it helps people work better and smarter too. It helps us achieve. Which is where the real value lies.


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