Johnson Controls made a big announcement today about what many are viewing as a game-changer in the emerging "smart buildings" market. If I am understanding it correctly, their new tool, called Panoptix, is an cross-platform network that can work with any building management system. It also appears to streamline information from several different systems and make it all into one data set--a really important feature for existing buildings and building portfolios.
It goes beyond the data set, though, helping not only building managers but also tenant companies and even individuals to identify and prioritize problems within the building (or campus or portfolio...). The phrase of the day was "turning data into information."
I am going to post more about this as well as a related Microsoft pilot project later and also write about both in an upcoming Environmental Building News feature about occupant engagement, but for now I wanted to share a photo showing the giant screen that Johnson Controls has set up on the floor to help generate buzz about Panoptix. The new tool has two really exciting features, at least from my point of view.
First, it offers two forms of social media (one free for anyone who is interested and one that offers access to experts for customers); I think this could lead to some exciting and creative uses for facility managers, tenant companies, and even individual building users.
Second, it is cloud-based, and considering Johnson's intention to roll it out globally within the next year (it is already available in North America), there is the potential to have an unprecedented level of highly granular, climate-specific data about building performance at our fingertips that could ultimately replace CBECS as a benchmarking tool and even help improve energy modeling software. What a powerful tool that could be.
Less exciting to me is the name Panoptix, which I think may have been an unfortunate choice. While the webcast announcing the product emphasized the Greek origins of the word (seeing everything at once), considering all the paranoia about data security around the smart grid--and the kinds of conversations I've been hearing about tracking energy usage at the workstation level--I can see data collection of this kind becoming an issue for a lot of people.
Associating the product so strongly with the concept of a panopticon--a surveillance tower used in prisons and other institutions--might turn out to be a counterproductive choice. But who knows? I certainly hope it takes off and manages to improve performance not only in individual existing buildings but also across entire cities and eventually the whole grid.
These are exciting times to watch how information management is moving forward in the marketplace.
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