Going Beyond Energy Efficiency as a Service with InterConnect Interoperability Toolbox

Awareness about energy efficiency, and its importance from the perspective of sustainability and environment, is constantly rising with individuals and communities. Energy Efficiency as a Service (EEaaS) is a relatively new pay-for-performance concept where investments in EE (Energy Efficiency) projects for buildings and homes are (partially) covered by a service company (like ESCOs) while no significant upfront investments are required by property owners. This is an innovative business model which relies on new, but proven, technologies and services in construction, IoT (home and building automation) and energy infrastructure to achieve defined EE goals.
However, there are challenges with this approach:

  • Energy consumers want comfort brought by automation and also the ability to be in control of the decisions made by EE services. This means not being completely dependent on potentially profit driven decisions by the service provider.
  • High risks of vendor locking when service providers are relying on a single technology which is not interoperable with other widely utilized systems on the market. Consumers want flexibility to decide which new systems to deploy and integrate allowing them to stay on the forefront of the technology developments and trends.
  • Most new housing developments include high performance EE enablers during construction and owners/property managers are looking for solutions to efficiently manage already deployed resources.
  • Energy efficient, smart home enablers (like smart appliances and home automation solutions) are becoming market standards. EE and comfort are not necessarily conflicting goals anymore.
  • Electric vehicles and small-scale energy storage and production are gaining traction globally. This increases complexity of EE decision making while at the same time opens new fronts for energy prosumers to actively participate in the energy market.

This complex ecosystem of enablers, trends and rapid technological innovation calls for a new approach for handing EE services. Concept of interoperability arises as the key enabler for bringing the EEaaS to the next level.
The InterConnect project aims at delivering an interoperability framework capable of bridging the integration gaps “within” and “between” smart buildings and the energy domain. “Within” means that the interoperability will be achieved among various home and building automation and EE management systems. “Between” means that interoperability will be achieved among different buildings and between buildings and systems from the wider energy domain. The InterConnect project will do this by:

  • Applying single ontology (SAREF) for modeling data coming from, exchanged between, or representing all key resources, services and systems deployed in smart buildings.
  • Adapting digital platforms and services represented within the project to comply with the selected ontology. Most of these platforms and services are based on widely used technologies and by making them compliant with the InterConnect interoperability framework, a fertile ground for further innovations and application development will be established.
  • Implementing semantic reasoning enablers taking full advantage of the established common knowledge layer. This will enable innovative EE management applications and processes to be built.
  • Creating interfaces between energy services (DSO, smart metering, flexibility aggregators etc.) and smart building systems enabling pervasive decision making.
  • Validating the interoperability enablers in 7 large scale pilots in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands and Portugal.

The listed objectives are represented within the InterConnect interoperability framework. As one of the main project outcomes, the InterConnect interoperability framework comprises:

  • Interoperability communication layer interconnecting all resources, platforms and services and enabling them to exchange data and instructions.
  • Service store for all compatible energy and non-energy services accompanied with deployment orchestrator for instantiating services on compliant platforms and end points.
  • P2P marketplace enablers allowing community-based energy and non-energy use cases and applications to be implemented and made interoperable with the wider InterConnect ecosystem.
  • Security and data protection framework specified for all compliant platforms, services and applications, thus enforcing the highest level of data and privacy protection.
  • Mechanisms for services and system onboarding and compliance certification, which streamline onboarding of 3rd parties’ services and systems to become part of the InterConnect ecosystem ensuring constant growth and improvements.

EEaaS based on the InterConnect interoperable and compliant environment (set of resources, platforms and services) will allow consumers and prosumers to automate resource and process provision with the goal of maximizing EE and satisfying strict comfort and safety requirements. Such EEaaS platform can open its interoperable interfaces for application developers who can utilize the platform resources and other interoperable systems and services to realize engaging and innovative ways for consumers and prosumers to achieve their EE goals and actively participate within EE communities and wider energy market.

Point and shoot – at your steak!

Scandals in the food industry have been at the forefront of the news in the past few years with horse meat being sold as beef,  salmonella outbreaks, and virgin olive oil being diluted  with less expensive oils.

Until now, there has been no way to detect these unsafe and fraudulent practices. With the PhasmaFOOD and foodSmartphone projects in full swing, a handheld device such as a smartphone could become a likely tool to detect the chemical compounds within the foods that consumers and corporations are buying.

The whole idea of PhasmaFOOD is to combine different light sensors into an integrated scanner system and build a consumer app around it to make a new generation of light food scanner. VizLore is part of a consortium of partners charged with undertaking this exciting project. VizLore’s cognitive networking lab builds the front and back end solutions for the interactive data management systems needed to support the project.

Read more about the PhasmaFOOD project here.

VizLore works on smarter Food Safety

VizLore is participating in the PhasmaFood project : an EU-funded H2020 project that represents a strong consortium of nine leading food security, sensing technologies and information technology stakeholders in Europe.

PhasmaFOOD is working on the development, demonstration and exploitation of a miniaturized smart integrated system that will be able to detect food hazards, spoilage and food fraud through heterogeneous micro-scale photonics. The connected device will be integrated with a parameterized, knowledge-based, software architecture for on-the-spot food quality sensing and shelf-life prediction.

VizLore Labs will lead Software development and data Management activities of the PhasmaFOOD project.

Huawei features VizLore platform

Huawei Technologies, a leader in information and communications technology (ICT), featured VizLore’s Soft Sensor Platform in its online journal, to promote education about platforms and their capabilities, in the IoT era.

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How to orchestrate a symphony of data: Fast data and Data at Rest

An interesting shift is occurring within the Internet of Things: instead of everything being sent to the cloud, the power to compute data is now done at the local level of the device instead. This is extremely valuable because it allows the device to make fast, mission-critical decisions at the local level instantly. While the cloud is better used to store past data and analyze it while it is at rest, to decipher patterns and predict trends.

Here are a few examples of Fast Data at the edge:

An advertising billboard that lets a passer by engage with it through their phone: be it playing a game or getting more information about a product. The billboard needs to be equipped with intelligence that will let it respond in real time to the actions dictated by the viewer’s phone. This is where fast data is critical. It stores the requisite amount of information on a gateway at the local level of the billboard so that it can react as needed, and then sends the data collected to the cloud after the action is complete.

A door to a building that lets you use your phone as a virtual key to enter. The door needs to be equipped with the intelligence to recognize the phone has the requisite security access for the building, and to unlock the door when told. In order to do this quickly the logic needs to sit locally at the level of the door, so that the phones can be recognized instantly and access logs created in real-time. Then, it can gather and send information to the cloud where the access levels and other instructions sit.

Cool huh? Not only does edge device processing make the solution more responsive but it also makes it more secure and fail-proof in case there is a loss of internet connectivity.

If you’d like to learn more about VizLore’s two solutions mentioned above please visit:

Smart billboard logic: https://www.vizlore.com/wi-blue-gateway/

Virtual key: https://www.vizlore.com/Products/#smartaccess

We are a Google Technology Partner!

We have been officially recognized as a Google Technology Partner because of our work with the Google Cloud Platform & Google Compute Engine. VizLore offers a full stack cloud IoT platform service infused with software sensor controls along with custom web and mobile apps. Learn more about our smart cloud platform in this video:

 

Workspaces: a new frontier

Shared workspaces are all the rage these days. But how about work-live-play spaces? The shared economy is moving towards a new frontier by merging the traditional functions of the workspace, living space and entertainment space, into one nebulous sphere where the boundaries of each are liquid and ever-changing.

MediaX at Stanford University has been researching the subject heavily. Their studies aim to understand how to measure and increase the productivity and well-being of knowledge workers.

VizLore’s founder, Dr. Dragan Boscovic is featured in the MediaX video below, where he describes buildings as a living organism that have a flow of information that can be tapped into to understand how the building is being used, and how its inhabitants feel. Take a look!