A Building Automation System is a system that provides automatic control of many of the tasks required for running a building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, lighting, security and other interrelated systems. It aims to improve the efficiency of all these systems, keep occupants comfortable, reduce energy consumption, lower operating and management costs, etc.
A couple of leading multinational Building Automation Systems (BAS) manufacturers wanted to improve the tooling they offered for the modeling and management of their systems. They needed a solution that would make it easy for BAS integrators to create a virtual model that provided a global view over the diverse information managed in these systems.
Over the years, building automation systems have become increasingly complex, integrating more and more systems such as HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), lighting, fire safety, security, etc. Every system has its proprietary input and output devices connected to a controller and a UI, and these components work together to gather, process and update information. Each layer of BAS has a role and builds upon the previous layer to provide more functionality and automation.
The problem is that the individual systems are often modeled differently and remain isolated from each other. So, every time something needs to be changed in one system, for example, expanding a building, the change has to be reflected in several different places. As a result, the BAS manufacturers found it difficult to offer a suitable solution that could provide a global view over all these segmented models.
The BAS manufacturers chose to use the Brick schema to represent all BAS components and their complex interactions. Brick is an open-source schema with standardized semantic descriptions of physical and virtual assets in buildings and the relationships between them. It was designed by leaders in the field, including Johnson Controls and Schneider Electric, and its modeling support covers HVAC, lighting, electrical, sensors, spatial, etc.
As the schema uses RDF (Resource Description Framework) to describe assets, it requires an RDF database to house the semantic model and the data. Two of the leading BAS manufacturers selected Ontotext GraphDB (RDF database engine for knowledge graph management) as the best choice to take advantage of the Brick schema. Resembling real-world building automation systems very closely, the RDF graph model provided the best framework for data integration, linking, reuse and analysis.
Thanks to its robustness, standard compliance and excellent query performance, GraphDB brings the required business critical stability. It makes it easy for BAS integrators to set up, load data, monitor differences in the systems, compare different versions of the model and more.
Using standardized Brick descriptions of all assets provides a global view of the building automation systems manufactured by the companies. It also makes it easy for BAS integrators to model these systems and make changes to that model from a central place. With GraphDB as their preferred RDF database for the Brick schema, the BAS manufacturers now have efficient, flexible and reliable tooling as part of their offering.
Ontotext adapted the packaging of GraphDB to comply with the particular technological, deployment and business models as well as the specific licensing plans of the BAS manufacturers. GraphDB provided powerful tooling for leveraging the functionalities of the Brick schema and the benefits of the graph model. Its predictable performance across a wide range of workloads ensured great efficiency and stability. This facilitated the work of BAS integrators when modeling and managing BAS manufactured by the two customers.
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