BMP’ing Obstacles to Smart Buildings Out of the Way: Q&A with CANDI



How the Intel Building Management Platform makes it possible for the IoT to encompass a marketplace of solutions for smart buildings

Editor’s Note: How do you make a building smart?  CANDI Controls CEO Steve Raschke believes manufacturers, developers, and service companies can “make buildings smart by generating actionable data to optimize and monitor HVAC, electrical, and other systems.”

Responding to questions from Embedded Intel Solutions, Raschke notes that even when a building has sensors and devices—and only fifteen percent of small- and medium-sized buildings in North America do—most are hard to connect to remotely. And then there’s the risk of hacking. Edited excerpts of our Q&A follow:

IoT sensors being installed to monitor a 90-ton rooftop HVAC unit via an Intel BMP gateway. (Photo courtesy CANDI)

Embedded Intel Solutions: What are some of the things you have learned about security and smart building management—and Intel’s approaches to both—that you have found particularly valuable?

Steve Raschke, CANDI

Steve Raschke, CANDI: Intel’s approach is to make it easy to access the data. In the past it was quite difficult to integrate edge devices across the building and link them to cloud-based apps and services. Intel’s Building Management Platform (BMP) solves that problem. It takes the complexity out of edge device communications, normalizes the data, and enables secure, remote access to it. This speeds time-to-market, lowers costs, and fosters a marketplace of solutions.

On the security front, we’ve learned that many existing systems and IoT networks are not very secure. Building operators and their IT departments are justifiably worried about network security on-premises. Intel and CANDI engineers designed the Building Management Platform to reduce the risk of threats originating from within local networks. BMP also makes secure access to the data stream by remote applications possible. Security starts with a robust, stripped-down Linux-based OS, is enhanced by features like embedded McAfee software that monitors the binaries running on the gateway, and follows best practices like locking down ports, disabling root access, and randomizing addresses. Security features extend between gateways and the cloud, with features like strong keys for authentication, encrypted communications, isolation of gateway and user accounts, and of course all the WAN and server-side security that Google’s Cloud infrastructure brings via Google’s recent collaboration with CANDI and Intel.

Embedded Intel Solutions: What should the application developer who may be unfamiliar with the Intel Building Management Platform do first in order to hit the ground running?

Raschke, CANDI: Intel BMP opens up many possibilities because it links to a wide range of devices and data, so the first step is to decide how your software will add value to the smart buildings market. Will it analyze energy data and control equipment to reduce consumption? Alert maintenance workers to equipment faults? Unlock data from building control systems? Optimize for workforce productivity by controlling lights and temperature? Remember to define the target customer and the types of devices or data involved.

Once the product goal is clear, it is fast and easy for developers to connect to remote devices and data streams via Intel BMP gateways. Authentication and all functions are through a REST/JSON API. Data streams and history are also accessible through Google Cloud’s Pub/Sub service.

Almost any building can easily be made ‘smart’ with IoT sensors and an Intel BMP gateway. (Photo courtesy CANDI)

CANDI makes it easy for developers to get started, with documentation, code examples, live data feeds, and support for qualified developers who sign up for a PowerTools subscription. At this stage, subscriptions are limited to enterprise partners who are working larger projects. An introduction to the API is online at https://developer.pwr.tools/. We can also help introduce developers to device manufacturers and systems integrators that may be helpful in deploying a solution.

Embedded Intel Solutions: What pieces of the smart building management puzzle, if any, are still missing and how can they be put into place?

Raschke, CANDI: All the pieces are available today. Intel BMP gateways can be purchased from Arrow Electronics, Ingram Micro, and elsewhere. IoT-class sensors and actuators are available everywhere. BMP integrates the most popular protocols and devices out there like BACnet, Zigbee, IP/Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and more. Innovative smart building apps and services from companies like Altair, Leverege, and Lucid are already in the market, accessing edge data through Google Pub/Sub or the CANDI PowerTools API. The stage is set for new entrants to develop and launch their own solutions.

One piece that’s still coming together is the network of integrators who deploy and profit from these new solutions. The smart building market is still young, so Intel, CANDI, Google, and our affiliates are reaching out now to educate IT and OT systems integrators, solution bundlers, VARs, and service companies about this new class of products and high-margin services they can offer their customers.

Embedded Intel Solutions: How do you expect the smart building management touch points to evolve and how do you envision other sectors—say automotive or data center or medical or industrial to leverage the solutions worked out in smart building management?

Raschke, CANDI: Intel BMP-based solutions are already finding their way into adjacent markets. What works for smart buildings also applies to smart industry, cities, and the grid. In buildings, we’re seeing use cases around energy and environmental management, and in cities and industry we are seeing BMP-based use cases as diverse as irrigation and flood control, renewable energy production, and airport infrastructure. Fundamentally they’re all about monitoring, analyzing, and acting on data. Equipment differs, data types change, and analytics are specific to each use case, but because BMP is flexible and agnostic the core system remains the same.

Embedded Intel Solutions: What information directed specifically at engineers working with Intel products and services that you could not fit in recent press releases would you like to share with our readers?

Raschke, CANDI: The Internet of Things is a booming industry, but it still struggles with important issues. To me, interesting focus areas for engineers include improved security between the edge and cloud, containerized edge applications and micro-services, customizable edge analytics, and cross-platform device provisioning. Ultimately, the success of Intel BMP and other IoT platforms will hinge on market adoption, which in turn depends on how well we as engineers and developers de-risk, simplify, and scale the technology.

More information is available at info@candicontrols.com

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