How anonymized data contributes to smarter building management

How anonymized data contributes to smarter building management

More and more, big data generated by security and non-security devices connected over the Internet is used to help users achieve security as well as operational efficiency. In this sense, anonymized location data generated by access control devices can be used to help manage buildings more effectively.

That’s the argument raised by Mohammad Soleimani, chairman of the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA), in a whitepaper released by the alliance. The organization is the developer of the Physical-Logical Access Interoperability (PLAI) specification.

According to Soleimani, while modern building management systems provide many facility improvements, without integration with the physical access control system (PACS) the BMS is constrained by pre-defined schedules. “Because schedules are predictive in nature, they cannot react in real-time to unforeseen events that may cause schedule disruptions,” he said. “The integration of BMS with PACS … makes it possible to leverage the capabilities of today’s sophisticated HVAC systems and realize higher energy efficiencies by basing settings and controls on a real-time occupancy count.”

More importantly, amid increased calls for protecting employee and user data, the BMS and PACS should work together without infringing upon individual privacy. In this regard, PLAI is a solution that can reconcile this, Soleimani said.

According to Soleimani, PLAI is implemented in a BMS-PACS environment to support the sharing of anonymized location data over a REpresentational State Transfer (REST) application program interface (API). This credential read stream identifies the location of a card-read associated with an individual and the zone that the person belongs to.

“For example, an event stream for a person entering through a garage would include his/her access at the garage or turnstile entrance, as well as that person’s usual place of work within the building. With both card-read and zone information, an intelligent BMS can keep track of a person going to a particular location even if the PACS at the tenant suite is not providing that data,” Soleimani said. “With this integration solution, a real-time, continuous occupancy count offers greater efficiencies for modern, variable-speed HVAC systems and allows for impromptu, finer control in comparison to current occupancy sensors.”

Soleimani cited as a case study Tridium, a global leader in building automation platforms. It is implementing PLAI for the purpose of smart building management, such as regulating HVAC and lighting controls, based on occupancy. “In Tridium’s application, anonymized location data is received over the PLAI event stream and consumed for dynamic building management. PLAI events are converted by Tridium to Building Automation Control network (BACnet) calls,” he said. “These calls in turn readjust the thermostat settings and lighting settings as appropriate. The PLAI approach in this scenario allows temperatures and ventilation to be adjusted as people enter and exit a room, limiting unnecessary exposure of personally identifiable information (PII) since biographic information pertaining to individuals is not needed.”

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