Connect the Dots: Intel’s BMP Brings Building Management to the Masses

Create: 10/20/2016 - 13:00

I initially wanted to use this space to talk more about why you need to cozy up to your nearest engineer, but that’ll have to wait. The debut of the Building Management Platform (BMP) by Intel earlier this month is just too important.

Many building management systems (BMSs) or building automation systems (BASs) are on the market, from the likes of Honeywell and Johnson Controls, but they’re generally reserved for large buildings where the cost of purchase and installation can be absorbed. Larger buildings also have higher energy costs, so the savings attributable to a properly configured BMS are significant, making energy management a chief driver of BMS installations.

Then there are the connectivity and security issues. Each device or system in a building can have its own interface bus, whether it be Ethernet, BACnet, x10, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or even older powerline communications technologies. Each interface has its own security management, but bringing them all together in a BMS adds a high level of risk. If compromised, the BMS becomes a hacker’s fast lane to everything in the building.

The cost and security concerns have kept smaller buildings from taking advantage of the IoT, but the Intel® Building Management Platform (Intel® BMP) is an attempt to change that by driving down the costs, simplifying installation and shoring up security.

Intel BMP solution

CANDI PowerTools plays a key role in the Intel® BMP as it provides technology agnostic protocol translation so any device can connect to the platform. (Source: Intel)

Demonstrated in June at IBCON, and announced formally on October 6, the Intel® BMP connects to the various building devices and systems, or “things” in a building, performs protocol translation, and sends their data to local servers or cloud-based services and applications. These then return business intelligence, analytics dashboards and other functions.

Five features set the platform apart, the first of which is CANDI PowerTools. This provides discovery tools and a drag-and-drop interface for installers – including IoT solution providers – to quickly find, provision and control devices, and start collecting their data.

CANDI’s very reason for being was to solve the interoperability challenge, and to do so it developed a technology-agnostic, open software translation layer that automatically coordinates data communications between the various devices. CANDI is continually updating its protocol list, along with those mentioned above, also handles X-Bee, UPnP, serial and Modbus.

Security and over-the-air updates

The other four features to take note of are:

  • Over-the-air updates
  • Security using McAfee Embedded Control
  • A trusted OS platform (Intel’s words)
  • Flexibility and choice

The trusted OS support comes courtesy of embedded Linux from Wind River, while the flexibility and choice comes through an Intel® BMP ecosystem that already has Microsoft (Azure IoT Hub) and Advantech (Advantech for Intel® IoT Gateways) as contributors, along with CANDI.

It’s hard to separate out the package and pick any one item as special, but the ability to handle over-the-air updates and its McAfee Embedded Control cyber security protection certainly stand out at a time of constant change and hacker concerns. For the updates, the platform communicates with a cloud service that remotely provisions, manages and maintains the software over-the-air with updates for protocol drivers, security patches and new features.

The new Intel® BMP is exciting because it gives even greater granularity to the data-gathering requirement for any building, large or small, so finer-grained control and monitoring is attainable. It also opens up a whole new market for IoT solution providers looking to expand into new areas. And who isn’t?

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Patrick Mannion
Patrick Mannion is an independent writer and content consultant who has been working in, studying, and writing about engineering and technology for over 25 years.

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