Saturday, February 27, 2010

Report from the front

During the Northern New England Facility Masters Conference this week I was surprised to hear that LonWorks was advancing in that region. Nearly all the reports I hear are of BACnet's advance throughout the building automation controls markets, with an increasing number of specifications calling out BACnet even in markets that were once solidly Lon territory; some markets have reportedly become pretty much all BACnet.

Not sure what's different in northern New England, but this is what I was told.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Smart Grid "Customer Use Cases" comment end

The EIS Alliance review of our "Customer Use Cases" document ended this afternoon (3 PM PST) and it looks like I might win the "Forum Spammer" award for the most comment threads submitted, though I had help outside the editorial regime by proxying some Honeywell colleagues' comments.

But seriously, we received excellent comments, both through the Forum and via e-mail, and it looks like we'll be busy for a bit resolving them. The document is quite "dry" (even by my standards); I'm encouraged that folks took the time to study it very carefully and find issues on which to submit substantive comments.


It's no secret that I am a candidate for the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) committee vice-chairman position. Without going into why, I'll just note that this is turning into an interesting election. According to the SGIP's bylaws, the vice-chair has to be elected by a majority vote. With eight initial candidates this wasn't likely -- and it didn't happen. So this week a runoff election with the four top vote-getting candidates (there was a three-way tie for second place!) was conducted.

No results yet, but with a 4-way split I am guessing there will be another runoff.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Smart Grid customer use cases review

Once again my week has been filled up with Smart Grid activities. Wednesday it began with a 5:30 AM call into a SGIP/SGAC (architectural committee) meeting at NIST, just outside of D.C. A lttle easier than getting up well before 5:30 in order to fly out the day before, but also a little early to be fully awake. Especially after the Shrove (Fat) Tuesday fun the night before (the pancake dinner always leaves me a bit ill).

But preceding that I spent a fair amount of time plowing through the almost 100-page document, EIS Alliance Customer Domain Use Cases v1.0, which is published online for review and comment. (The customer domains are Industrial, Commercial and Residential buildings -- I'm in the Commercial Buildings group.)

I've already uploaded my clearly-editorial comments, one technical comment, and one uncertain. I've circulated my comments among internal parties and the rest of the technical should be up soon, along with some of theirs.

But for all that, I still have to make to another pass through the Use Cases document, double-checking certain of the technical elements. Fortunately the review period was extended to 2/26!

Then maybe I can get back to redrafting some of my BACnet proposals...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wait it out

It might not be a good sign that if one just waits long enough, some BACnet issues might just become moot. Such seems to be the case with an old proposal of mine that Bernhard Isler brought to my attention for having an unresolved disposition. This proposal, WS-048 "Half-Routers with Application Entities", was originally written Sept. 6, 2002. It went through the usual process of review and changes up until Jan. 23, 2007, when the draft of Jan. 24, 2004 (3 years later!), was approved for public review and then suddenly pulled back during discussion, according to the minutes of that meeting.

The minutes show no task was assigned. (If only we'd had Sharon Dinges' very carefully detailed minute-taking in that meeting, over and above the call of duty!) Bernhard says his notes said, "It is moved and approved that this section is withdrawn in favor of further research on the issue. Dave Robin will do this research." Three years later, Dave guesses the research is still ongoing.

But as he asked today, "Is anyone actually making half routers these days?" Good question! The BACnet half-router was developed for joining BACnet internetworks intermittently through dial-up connections, though it also has other applications. I have long argued that BACnet evolved in the one of two possible directions in which the primary function of the half-router doesn't work, at least not without some "assistance" not defined in the standard.

And it is fairly argued that the subject matter of WS-048 soon becomes the obvious approach to anyone implementing half-routers, though the intent of WS-048 was simply to make the point obvious, not something that had to be puzzled out.

Still, it seems strange that we can just table the proposal because technology has passed it by.

IS anyone actually making half routers these days?


My worst fears from when I joined the Smart Grid effort are being realized. In the past I had little trouble with scheduling conflicts despite being on the BACnet committee, its various working groups and summits, the BACnet Test Labs working group, BIG-EU and its working groups, and ISO/TC205/WG3, because they are all aligned around BACnet and tend to avoid conflicting meetings and teleconferences.

Not so with the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), the Smart Grid Architecture Committee (SGAC) and the Energy Information Standards Alliance (EIS Alliance), all of which come with their own meetings and teleconferences. Avoiding each other, they're landing right on top of a number of BACnet events.

Oh well. This is probably happening to a lot of folks involved in the Smart Grid effort. I'll just have to pick & choose.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

EU and NA Smart Grid development

During the BIG-EU WG-Technique meeting Monday, Prof. Dr. Peter Fischer (Fachhochschule Dortmund) delivered a brief review of the current status of Smart Grid development in Europe, an effort in which he appears to be quite active. I noticed some similarities to the North American and followed up with questions during the BIG-EU Executive Board & Advisory Council dinner Tuesday evening. The following is from memory, so any errors are probably mine.

The European effort started in advance of the American (or at least the NIST "Smart Grid Interoperability Panel," or SGIP), and though it has one difficulty not present in the American, the required coordination of many countries, it seemed to be similar in some aspects. He noted, for example, that the European effort started with 50 protocols though the number was reduced to 10 or so through a weeding process based on data rates, information throughput and other aspects. And the SGIP is starting out with roughly 90!

At some point, of course, the effort becomes political and I am minded of an SGIP colleague who said that in college he switched his studies from political science to technology because he didn't want to deal with "politics and bureaucracies." Oops -- all technical standards development seems to deal with "politics and bureaucracies."

Still, other elements of what I heard should be a concern to the SGIP. For example, the European effort reportedly started out with an aggressive schedule which subsequently had to be set back. (Details would help.)

Some European elements are different from the American: the European effort seems to be heavily centered on meters, for example: CENELEC/TC 13 for electric meters, CENELEC/TC 294 for non-electric meters including gas and water (buildings are under CENELEC/TC 205).

But Peter will supply his powerpoint slides and additional reference URLs on the European effort as addenda to the WG-Technique minutes. I look forward to seeing them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

They just love us in Paris!

No BAC Cave, but a little photoediting fun with a snapshot taken on the Paris Metropolitain (underground). Rue du Bac really exists, though.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meeting's end

The joint Executive Board - Advisory Committee meeting was exceptionally small this time for some reason. Since the BIG-EU office had reserved a rather small conference room for this meeting I know it wasn't the snow (which was nothing like that which plagued the U.S. East Coast -- but it's looking like the light flurries in Paris might be all I will see of it this winter).

Still, we had a pretty full agenda to plow through and plow we did, with discussions ranging from officers' reports, potential Executive Board changes (interim and at the upcoming Annual Meeting in September), reports on the various European national BACnet Interest Groups, appoint of a liaison to the BACnet Committee to replace now-retired René Quirighetti (those will be hard shoes to fill), and a number of other internal matters.

Last and not least was the location of the next meeting. I was not the only one to bring a spouse to tour afterwards, and in that light the meeting was moved from little Zug to larger Lucerne -- many more opportunities for sight-seeing and shopping.

Unfortunately (as usual) I did not escape this meeting without a somewhat difficult work assignment with a fairly short deadline. Oh well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Live from Paris!

Well, not quite, actually. It's a little difficult to live-blog meetings; one should be careful in what one reports, especially if there is a chance of getting it wrong or misquoting someone. The actual record needs to come from the secretary.

But one can report from the BIG-EU meetings yesterday ("yesterday" in Paris, the blog entry will still say Monday) of the WG-Technique (techical work group) and WG-M (marketing), that it doesn't seem advantageous to conduct a European plugfest (interoperability workshop) this year, between the regular biennial events, last held in 2009 and next in 2011. (Maybe as well for me; it has been suggested I speak at a conference in London about the time that the plugfest would have been scheduled.)

In a joint meeting of the two working groups, a new Liaision and alternate have been elected to represent BIG-EU to the BACnet committee, to replace René Quirighetti who recently retired after well over a decade's service in this and other positions in BIG-EU and CEN/TC 247. Congratulations, K_ and C_!

In the joint meeting the next meeting was announced, Sep. 20 and 21 in Zug, Switzerland. Finally I might get to see Zug!

Coming up today (Tuesday), the meeting of the Executive & Advisory Boards of BIG-EU. More later, and probably not live...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another conference...

This was not at all how I had imagined this blog to go. I certainly hadn't intended it to be more about conferences than BACnet, but that's how things seem to be going. I received notification today that I have been selected as a speaker for the Building Performance Congress at the huge "light+building" expo in Frankfurt, Germany, mid-April.

On top of that I just received a call for speakers for another conference this June. Will have to confer with folks here...

But tomorrow I leave for Paris and the BACnet Interest Group - Europe meetings there. Perhaps there will be something about BACnet to report from there.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Conferences start

I had been hoping to get to some of the BACnet-related tasks from the meetings in Orlando, but instead I got pressed by upcoming deadlines for presentations for two conferences where I'll be speaking soon, New England Facility Masters Conference in three weeks and NFMT in mid-March.

I just shipped off the one for NFMT, "Greening to Standards," which comes from a review of standards, including ASHRAE 90.1 and brand-new 189.1 (approved by ANSI less than 2 weeks ago and I believe the only ASHRAE standard whose cover is not blue) and green building rating systems such as LEED and China "3 Star." I don't suppose I'm giving anything away by noting that BACnet is a factor in the presentation.