Bacon on the Job: Boning up on Smart Buildings

Here I am in sunny Las Vegas, actually doing work. I’m attending the biennial Niagara Summit organized by Richmond-based Tridium, where my wife works as financial director. Niagara is a software platform for connecting distributed devices — sensors, monitors, control devices — that work behind the scenes in an increasing number of the things we take for granted.

The really big market for these devices right now is building automation — tracking and controlling the use of energy for lighting, heating and cooling. But these M2M (machine to machine) systems are spreading everywhere. They’re tying together access, video and intrusion components of security systems. They’re regulating water usage in toilets and lawn sprinklers. They’re embedded in infrastructure to alert property managers to when critical components are wearing out. Smart buildings are a huge and growing market.

Most devices are associated with proprietary software created by the manufacturer. Tridium’s Niagara “framework” provides a platform where all the devices can be monitored, analyzed and controlled through a single, unified interface. What Microsoft Windows does for PC applications, Niagara hopes to do for machine-to-machine computing — to become an internationally recognized platform. In this conference, attended by roughly 1,250 people, the many participants in the Niagara technological ecosystem come together to see where the industry is heading and how Niagara is evolving.

A lot of the program content is way too technical for a general audience. But the program also provides a window into the fast-changing world of technology that Bacon’s Rebellion readers and other political junkies rarely see. I will be diligently attending presentations and breakout sessions to gain insight into technological trends driving the evolution of building automation, commercial and industrial real estate and, ultimately, human settlement patterns.


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  1. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    “Bacon on the Job?”
    As in Mrs. Bacon, right?

  2. larryg Avatar

    Jim is massive info sponge and there are opportunities…..

    look at it this way.. if the situation was reversed as has been more typical… what do the women do when they accompany?

    They shop.

    Give Jim credit….


  3. Hydra Avatar

    When I was studying energy economics in grad school we had a guest lecturer from a company in DC that manages dozens of buildings. Even thirty years ago they had a central command staton from where they could monitor every fan and moter in every building under their control.

    When a motor had logged enough time, the system ould print out a work order for routine maintnenance on that motor, icluding a list of all the tools and parts and ladders or whatever needed for the repair, and it would schedule the trips for least mileage used.

    It was high tech stuff, even back then. Shades in the buildings were automatically operated to assist in heating or cooling and ventilation patterns changed to distribute the heat.

    And, he claimed, the entire expense of the operaton was more them paid for every month or so, based on the energy saved.

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