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Intelligent Building Management Systems over IP Networks

IP Networks are exciting because convergence (over IP) is happening not just for voice, video and data. Even the IBMS (Intelligent Building Management Systems) are slowly converging over the IP Networks. In this article, we will see a short introduction to IBMS over IP Networks and some of its applications.

Building Management Systems are nothing new. There are so many systems in a building that need to be monitored and if possible, controlled. Various sensors, electronic components, cables and cabling interfaces, controllers, etc are used by BMS systems for that purpose, and these systems use both proprietary protocols as well as some limited open standard protocols like BACnet/LonTalk etc for communication.

But the Internet Protocol (IP) has been growing in popularity and used for enterprise data/voice/video communications, almost exclusively. Most of the companies have already invested in building such IP based networks for connecting their computers and other computing devices. The IP based networks use Cat x Cables for communications. Consequently, the monitoring/ control of Building Management Systems over IP Networks has been growing in popularity.

There is a hardware appliance called ‘Mediator’ which converts the various protocols used by BMS systems to the Internet Protocol (IP) which can travel through standard Local Area Networks / Wide Area Networks.

Advantages of using IP Networks for monitoring/ control of Intelligent Building Management Systems:

  • IP Networks are highly pervasive – Every company has a computer network (LAN) for (at least) data sharing/ connecting to the Internet. These IP networks have been growing in their capacity to carry data (10 Gbps networks are common today). So, using IP networks for IBMS would make all those proprietary cables and cabling interfaces of BMS unnecessary, saving the cost involved in procuring multiple types of cables and managing multiple networks.
  • One of the biggest advantage of using IP Networks for controlling IBMS is the ability to monitor the systems from a remote location – Either through MPLS/VPN networks (or) even through the Internet.
  • IP Networks offer consolidated and centralized monitoring of many Intelligent Building Management Systems (IBMS).
  • With IP Networks, real time alerting on the health and safety parameters of a wide range of devices/ processes is possible over a variety of devices / networks like the Cell Phones/ Tablet Computers over the Internet.
  • Its possible for the centralized control of multiple types of BMS systems by programming a touch interface (for example) in a commonly used device like IP Phone/ Kiosk. Since the IP Network is used to control these devices, common scripting languages like XML etc, can be used for monitoring / controlling by executing a set of instructions on many supported devices. All this give personalized control to the user, who for example, can use is IP Phone/ Computer to set his preferred AC temperature/ lighting controls etc.
  • Intelligent Building Management Systems contribute a lot in saving the operational costs due to the energy savings with its automated energy conservation features. For example, a motion sensor can be used to check if the room is occupied / empty and accordingly switch on/ off the lights/ Air Conditioning, etc (respectively) – thereby saving power. But IP Networks take this to the next level by allowing those controls to be used with common devices (like cell phones) over common networks (like Internet). One can switch on/off the AC system in their home/office using their cell phones, from their cars with IP Networks.
  • Its possible to apply computer programming logic to control the utilization of certain utility parameters. For example, the system can calculate the energy costs and based on that, it might disconnect (or switch over to another utility) power for certain facilities like air-conditioning in the nights based on the cost.
  • With IP Networks, Wireless Technology (Wi-Fi) can be used to monitor and communicate with the BMS sensors/ units. This enables communications without the clutter of the cables and is especially useful when cables cannot be taken over certain areas.
  • Disparate BMS Systems (like Lighting and HVAC for example) can communicate over the same IP Network allowing for their central control & coordination.
  • Customized web pages can be created for monitoring/ controlling facility operations management over the IP Network.

Some Applications that can be controlled by the Intelligent Building Management Systems over IP Networks:

  • Lighting systems
  • HVAC – Heating Ventilation Air-Conditioning systems
  • Video Surveillance
  • Telephone Systems
  • Access Control
  • Security & Alarm Systems
  • Electrical Power systems
  • Fire Detection & Control
  • Window Opening/ Closing
  • Opening & Closing of Window Blinds
  • Watering the Gardens
  • Elevators

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