Building Automation: A Sweet Spot for EdgeX Foundry
Written by Andy Foster, active member of the EdgeX Foundry technical community and Product Director at IOTech
The key objective for LF Edge’s EdgeX Foundry is to create a flexible and open edge computing IoT platform that can support a range of different vertical use cases across markets such as manufacturing, oil & gas and smart energy. A key vertical market that has emerged for the community and IOTech, in particular, has been involved in multiple projects is Building Automation.
Why is Building Automation proving to be such a sweet spot for EdgeX? In our experience, the requirements of the next generation of Building Automation applications align perfectly with the capabilities of EdgeX. In particular, a modern building is a sophisticated and heterogeneous environment consisting of diverse subsystems including lighting, HVAC and access control. Data can be generated from multiple sources using a range of different device/sensor technologies and protocols (e.g. Modbus, BACnet, DALI, MQTT and others).
The sensor data must be normalized by the IoT platform running on an Edge node e.g. an industrial Gateway or on-premise server. The data can then be fed into the building management analytics which can make smart control decisions in “near” real-time on how to automatically optimize the building environment for the benefit of the users and also the building owners. As an open source project, EdgeX Foundry (can support any “Southbound” OT protocol or “Northbound” Cloud endpoint) and its platform independence (not tied to a specific operating system or hardware/silicon) is key to its suitability for Building Automation use cases. Most importantly, EdgeX also provides “out-of-the-box” connectivity for a number of the protocols most commonly required in a smart building system. As of the most recent EdgeX Edinburgh release the list includes Modbus, BACNet, MQTT and OPC UA Device Services.
The below video showcases the demo created by IOTech on behalf of the Linux Foundation to highlight the key capabilities that make EdgeX a great choice of Edge IoT Platform for use in Building Automation applications. It shows the integration of multiple devices commonly found in commercial buildings (light and temperature sensors, HVAC controller, DALI lighting controllers, power meter and access control system). Based on occupancy data, the Edge Analytics automatically regulates the building environment, controlling the light levels and HVAC settings in multiple independent zones based on the ambient light and temperature readings from each zone. Overall power consumption of the building is also monitored and key data streams are exported to a Big Data application running on AWS Cloud.