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Six Tips For Dealing With Too Much Real-Time Building Information

June 11, 2013
Communicating building-control systems are a wonderful thing: but they can also be merciless when it comes to sharing information with their human masters.

Has the novelty of real-time building-communications systems worn off? It has for Dana Sundmark, P.Eng., electrical superintendent, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia.

“Not only do we have many other people who need and want to communicate with us, now we have lots of machines that want to talk to us in real time, too,” Sundmark, speaking at the 2013 Honeywell Users Group Symposium in Phoenix, said. “The problem with real-time systems is they always want to tell me how they’re doing.”

Sundmark said many users would prefer to be informed only when something is going wrong with a building’s HVAC system, be able to access trend reports for troubleshooting, and receive periodic operational reports.

Sundmark offered six tips to help facilities managers control the information they receive — instead of letting it control them. They are:

1. Be careful what building systems you allow to “push” data to you, instead of you pulling the data when you want it.

2. If you do let a system push data to you, ensure that it is the content, format, and frequency you want.

3. If you are pulling data, ensure that the system makes it easy for you to access the data you desire. If it doesn’t, think about replacing the system.

4. Identify the staffing resources necessary to deal with the data.

5. Don’t be seduced by sales claims about what a communicating building system can tell you.

6. Determine what you really want to know and set up your systems accordingly.

“Control the information you receive; don’t let it control you,” Sundmark said.