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Daily Real Estate News  |  March 21, 2005  |   Smart Properties: IT, Business Systems Merge Information technology and building automation systems experts say their two worlds are merging with the initial development of Web-based control standards and migration to computer networks. Innovative building operators and BAS companies are already using IP and Web technologies to more effectively manage their heating, air conditioning, lighting, and other building-control functions. As more functions move to the IT infrastructure, experts predict BAS will become another customer of the IT department, much as accounting or other functions rely on IT staff. The migration to IP networks is similar to that of telephony's current move to IP, but as sensors, security cameras, actuators, and other devices become connected, they will also communicate as peers via Web services; open standards are the basis for this integration, and will also enable integration with other business systems such as accounting. The OASIS Open Building Information Exchange (OBIX) committee has been working since April 2003 to create standard building-control system interfaces for Web deployment, a draft discovery service for plug-and-play BAS devices, and an alarm service for automated settings. If the initiative is successful, OBIX-related Web services could outnumber all other Web services combined, says OBIX Chairman Toby Considine. There are still a number of obstacles for BAS integration into the IT infrastructure, including reticence on the part of BAS companies to move away from proprietary technology, lack of awareness among IT professionals, and standards. Security is also an issue, and Yale University placed its new IP-based BAS on a separate, parallel network protected from the general Internet by nonroutable IP addresses. Control-system companies have no idea about directory-enabled security, which is especially worrisome considering some of these systems control building access, says Kenmark Group CEO Mark Kendall.

Source: Computerworld (03/14/05); Mitchell, Robert L.

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