Simon Ward, UK sales director at Distech Controls SAS, explains why using open standards and APIs benefit the efficiency and operation of a Building Management System (BMS).

The growth of IoT-enabled devices has grown extraordinarily in recent years and this trend is set to continue. Business Insider forecasts indicate that there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 10 billion in 2018, and 9 billion in 2017*.

As a result of IoT advancements and the resulting development of smart products, our buildings are becoming increasingly more connected. For example, end users are now asking for a centralised user interface that on the back end connects the dots between data points and systems, such as showing room occupancy information that can link to the meeting room booking system for occupants.

Building operators are looking to combine data from BMS and other building systems along with other data sets related to the business, yielding statistics that lead to actionable insights. The overarching need is for a unified approach to connect disparate building systems.

Prior to IoT, the BMS played a pivotal role in making commercial buildings smarter. The BMS has always served as the eyes and the ears of the building, taking notes for building owners looking to create more energy efficient spaces. With the integration of IT networks and the BMS, there’s an opportunity to save additional energy, but also make more informed operational decisions.

Involving IT departments in the equation adds an extra layer of complexity to traditional deployments. IT has a preference for how they interact with and collect data – specifically utilizing open standards in APIs and MQTT. This is challenging the controls industry to provide more open, unified systems that fully integrate all the subsystems. Open protocols allow numerous functions within a building or space to successfully combine under one supervisory and control system, providing data to other analytics applications from the edge controller to the supervisor level.

Utilizing open protocols provide benefits for building operators and owners to occupants. Building operators can visualize, control and maintain the systems from one interface, yielding potential energy and maintenance savings. Occupants want to be in a fully digital building where they can access room booking to changing the light and heat settings of a conference room.

This is where APIs can come into play, specifically one of the most popular types, RESTful APIs. Using a RESTful API interface makes integration easier for systems integrators (Sis) by enabling IT web services to easily interact with software applications. RESTful APIs also provide flexibility as the API can handle multiple types of input and return different data formats. In summary, it allows developers to meet the needs of building owners and operators as well diverse customers.

With RESTful API and the open Internet Protocol (IP), communication between devices becomes easier and you can achieve a fully integrated system. Distech Controls has a RESTful API embedded into a range of its solutions, including the ECLYPSE series and the new Allure UNITOUCH room controller, providing solutions that are not only open to the BMS but for occupants looking to connect with their environments.

Open protocols allow for greater integration of building services and provide more data from building operations, which can improve building performance to the benefit occupants. This will continue to evolve how the industry in the United Kingdom (UK) specifies and procures building automation systems.