Vafaei also recommends having vendors sign a compliance statement indicating that they support open communication and database protocols. This ensured that the commission could pull the data it needed from every system.
"When it comes to controls and automation, everything should be open. As we replace things, that's where we're going," Smith says.
Both Microsoft and the SFPUC also enforced the use of a naming convention for data points on all control systems so as to avoid a name conversion step when importing data into the IBMS. Microsoft had the foresight to require vendors to use its 32-decimal naming convention years ago; the public utilities commission required every vendor to use a convention it published.
Things aren't perfect, though. Microsoft still needs to automate reporting. For example, the process of reading more than 1,000 meters, normalizing that data and getting it into the database is still manual, and the tools for managing a smart building holistically are still evolving. But the industry may finally be at a turning point.
Ten years ago, building automation consisted of using dial-up connections into PCs, one for every system, Smith says. "But in the last couple of years, we've jumped the chasm," he says. "Leveraging IT to optimize smart buildings is here."
However, he adds, that level of "personal control" is still at least three to five years away from mainstream adoption.