Archive for March, 2019

MQTT – Delivering the message

Posted on: March 25th, 2019 by Tom No Comments

The built environment is more connected than ever before and the Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling the physical devices we use on a day-to-day basis, such as cars, kettles and even buildings, to share data and communicate with each other. We are now at a stage where we can use the IoT to manage the energy consuming services within a building more efficiently. Devices such as lightbulbs, switches, televisions and power outlets can communicate with utilities and optimise energy consumption.

There must have been something in the air in 1999. While David Bowie was making his predictions about the internet, Andy Stanford-Clark and Arlen Nipper were busy developing MQTT so they could monitor an oil pipeline through the desert. Stanford-Clark and Nipper required a bandwidth efficient protocol that used little battery power as the devices were connected via satellite link, which was expensive.

In our last blog we revealed that MQTT was now available within our SIP+ product range. The easy to use, out of the box platform, capable of connecting multiple third party drivers to each other within the same truly multi-protocol platform, perfect for new installations or retrofitting.

With the increasing adoption of ‘machine-to-machine’ (M2M) and IoT connected devices, MQTT has become a key player in IoT capability in recent years. The publish/subscribe, simple and lightweight messaging protocol is designed for mobile applications where bandwidth and battery power are at a premium.

In practice a Facilities Management company, for example, could access sensors for temperature, humidity, occupancy, air quality, fan speed, etc. and aggregate the data received from hundreds of sensors and buildings. It could then apply machine learning techniques to the database of information collected to drive efficiency, predict plant failures before they happen and improve the long term cost and efficiency of buildings and future technology.

Perhaps it’s time you discovered why SIP+ is an enabler at the forefront of the IoT revolution. Email us to find out more.

Are we “stuck in the middle” with our buildings?

Posted on: March 6th, 2019 by Tom No Comments

Tim Barnes, Energy Business Development Manager at Synapsys Solutions gives his opinion

Many people and organisations are now more than aware that the assets and buildings that they have under their ownership generate data. This data has the ability to be collated, analysed and converted into actionable data. Information can be shared and used as needed, potentially by the building users, but also by building service companies, consultants and specialist subcontractors. With this prevalence of this data, are the expectations of analysing this data and driving a clear output being met? Or are we stuck in the middle, between aspiration and reality?

Solid foundation?

As in any form of business, decision making is founded on the application of intelligence gathered and a clear plan for the delivery and intended outcomes. For the most part, either (and hopefully) within the new build sector, but more importantly within the existing building stock, buildings and their assets can be a source of massive data. It is regularly reported that grasping this data should deliver operational performance improvements, energy & carbon efficiencies, productivity improvements for building users, and (most recently), contribute as part of a wider plan to the ongoing wellbeing of building users.

Despite this recognition of potential availability and probable value, how many organisations are actually moving effectively to deliver on this opportunity? It is certainly arguable that many, if not most, of the links in the building maintenance and operation chain, claim that their businesses are now poised to deliver added value offerings based on data acquired from a building or estate. However what is the reality? Are all the links pulling in the same direction – or actually delivering on the sales speak?

I think that many organisations, and their responsible parties, are stuck in the middle. They know the value of using present data better, but they see barriers. I have highlighted some of these below. These are legitimate concerns, and not, as the song suggests, clowns on the left and jokers on the right.

Overcoming hurdles

Whilst it is certain that a vast array of solutions exist to capture and analyse the data, why are organisations not capitalising more? Whilst by no means exhaustive, perhaps the list below sheds some light.

1. Cost

To harness the data contained in buildings, there will be a cost. Whether this is a capital expenditure one, used as part of a development or refurbishment, or an agreed operational expenditure, a cost will be faced to either install data acquisition devices, or potentially recommission systems to allow captured data to be liberated. The analysis of any data gathered will require some form of investment, be that human or through software.

2. Installed systems

With the vast majority of properties we walk into, past and work in, there may be some form of installed systems that could generate data that can be gathered and worked with. However, knowing or understanding what you have and if the systems are capable of some form of communication may be problematic. This may be due to building and asset age, lack of understanding or historic desire.

3. Expertise

Who will be best placed to either oversee or administrate the collation and analysis of data from assets and buildings? Is this an in-house or an external resource. Will there be clarity over the desired outputs and what can be achieved? Is there a shared purpose from the data collectors to the data analysts to the teams that will deliver a different approach to the buildings’ performance?

4. Expectation

Organisations may feel that they are ready to accept and analyse the data from buildings and drive decisive actions. But is the reality different to the expected or desired outcome? Organisations need to balance the anticipated outcome against the realistic situation.

#Internetofthings vs #internetofthingsbutnotquiteyet

Depending on which news outlet, technical publication or website you visit, the numbers of Internet of Things devices that will, and have, intervene in our day to day lives will increase dramatically. This march towards an ever increasing availability, and reliance, on intelligent devices is undeniable and cannot be challenged as fact.

But there is a consideration – are we really ready for it? Are we ready for it technically or financially? Are our supply chain partners ready for it? Is there resource to implement, oversee and drive a truly smart building?

This is where I think the challenge is present for us. On the one hand, we are bombarded by posts, articles and adverts all shouting about intelligence, connectivity, smartness and innovation. On the other, many organisations that could benefit from are not moving in that direction, many for the reasons stated earlier. So are end users and customers stuck in the middle? How do we move forward?

Iot1 copy

To a large degree, we are more accepting of smart at home than in the workplace. We have smart thermostats, subscription based software packages, apps that increasingly permeate our lives and are surrounded by increasingly smart technology. Can we take this acceptance further into our working environments? There is no doubt that applications such as Building Management Systems (BMS) have been around in various forms for decades – but I would certainly challenge the extent to which even a BMS is used or how far along the smart scale many BMS are.

Recent market research indicated that whilst the truly intelligent, connected building exists, they are few and far between (but increasing in number). Many new buildings are starting to appear on the smart radar. However the vast majority of buildings that exist now, and to a large degree are being developed, are still using an approach seen ten or more years ago. We cannot ignore the huge building stock that is as it has been for a long time. Unless a building is due for redevelopment or refurbishment, are all thoughts relating to optimisation or improved performance declined?

Smart buildings yes, smarter buildings now, yes please.

As an example of how buildings are evolving, I recently contributed to a panel discussion relating to the explosion in co-working space, and how that affects design, fitting out, letting and using the space efficiently. Market movements like this show how shifts in how people use work space necessitate a shift in how the space is operated. Understanding these trends and developments in more detail is paramount, and accepting that the evolution will happen.

Why can’t you make an existing building smarter, whilst planning for a smart building in the future? Building users, company employees and visitors should have their expectations over using and working in the space met in some regard.


At Synapsys Solutions, we are supporting our customer extract, manipulate and analyse their data. Our SIP+ platforms can be installed as a retrofit or as part of a new build, targeting nominated data sets for analysis, acting in a truly open protocol way. Our embedded drivers now support MQTT, an IoT enabling method for data sharing. By working closely with our customers, and understanding their needs, we are democratising the data that is present in their buildings now – pushing data to a wider audience and driving enhanced value.

An improvement can be made in terms of energy consumption, occupant wellbeing and productivity by using what you have now differently. Can you access meter or BMS data in the building, and review the data? Can you take that data and display it in a cost effective manner to support improved engagement with building users? If you can ,you should.

Some of the challenges that I mentioned earlier will need to be overcome, but at the same time a recognition that the implementation of a carefully constructed and delivered plan to drive as many benefits as possible. Providing some form of balanced approach is a requirement – let’s think to the future and what we could achieve with the space and technology at that time. But we can do more now with what we have. Organisations need to be made aware of this, and with a dose of realism have these aspirations worked towards by their supply chains.

It is time to make our current buildings smarter whilst planning for a smart building in the future.

Get social with us

Posted on: March 5th, 2019 by Tom No Comments

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Are you ready for the Internet of Things?

Posted on: March 1st, 2019 by Tom No Comments

Most of us will agree that David Bowie was something of a visionary in a music and fashion sense, but he was also ahead of his time when it came to the internet. Bowie was one of the first artists to connect with his fans via a website, and he gave an insight into just how important he believed the internet would become during an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight in 1999. Thanks to the internet we can now look back and appreciate just how accurate his prediction was here.

When being grilled by Paxman about the potential of the internet, Bowie responded: “I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg.” “I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society both good and bad is unimaginable. I think we’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”

Twenty years on and we are really beginning to see the rest of the proverbial iceberg. It has gone beyond being a source of information, we now have the ability to improve the way we manage our built environment with smart technology and building automation, largely thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), which we have discussed in previous blogs.

However, it has become rather too easy to wrongly assume that any device with built-in wireless connectivity is part of the IoT, and this creates unnecessary confusion around the subject. It is only an IoT device if its information can be made available to other devices, and basing your building management around the IoT is not always the appropriate action, especially where you have legacy equipment that is not IoT ready. But the IoT is the future and the technology to support and enhance it is always evolving.

At Synapsys Solutions we continuously look for ways to advance our products and keep them at the forefront of the latest markets, which is why we have made Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) available within our SIP+ product range. Many organisations now offer third party, cloud based brokers allowing for the simple transfer of data from remote devices using the internet. This makes it possible to collect, store, visualise and analyse data from various IoT platforms.

Perhaps it’s time you started thinking about the future capabilities of the internet and how you can take full advantage of its potential. Email us to find out more.