New Era of Building Management

“Home automation used to be a luxurious dream with overwhelming design costs. In Finland these dreams have been turned to everyday reality even for builders of one-family homes through mass tailoring software and standardization.
Previously a builder of a one-family home had to deal with at least four different vendors. Now automation is packaged with the rest of the building technology, thus the customer gets the total package as a turn key solution. Smart building management systems ensure not only superior indoor comfort and outstanding security, but also minimized operating costs of the facility.
The foundation of the concept is the building operating system, named COBA (Connected Open Building Automation). COBA definitions were created in a standardization project of companies representing various industries, from telecommunications to construction and services. When the standardization project started, its vision was to create an operating system for buildings, which would offer an open standard for easy and secure access to building functionality. Today the technology is in extensive commercial use. The vision proved to be right already in the first projects..

The building operating system offers a common interface to all facility management systems: heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, consumption metering, access control, video surveillance as well as burglar, fire and humidity alarms. The definitions also include modeling of buildings, spaces, devices, systems, and users in accordance with International Alliance for Interoperability’s IFC model. The IFC concept is based on the idea of objects brought together in an integrated model.

The efficient design and implementation process is based on open interfaces and modeling. The designer collects the requirements and designs the solution utilizing ready models and templates. The integrator completes the project using efficient tools that automate most of the programming work. In the end, the buyer can compare what was designed and simulated with what was implemented. Integration allows different building management systems to work together seamlessly and to be controlled according to needs and situations.

So what does COBA enable in concrete terms? Premium quality building management systems implemented with minimal costs. Smooth electronic system creation process with drastically improved efficiency. No manual work, no errors. Mass-production of mass-customized building management systems. Glue between construction and ICT clusters.

Smart home is not a new idea, and it has been approached from many viewpoints. Some focus on networking household appliances, others on entertainment electronics. The most fundamental source of added value and, thus, the most natural approach is building technology. When the inhabitants in the residence change, they usually take their stereos with them. Building technology remains in the building. A building operating system, like COBA, can be utilized for networking entertainment and household devices efficiently with the building technology.

Gaining full benefits from this forefront technology on a global scale will require networking of excellent companies in each market. In the past, Finnish companies had strong influence on creation of the GSM standard. The same could be now happening in the field of building management systems.

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