The Blog

Taking Control of Big Data

5th Jan 2017

FMP

John Jago - Private Sector Managing Director, ENGIE

The emergence of ‘big data’ is driving a need for new enabling technologies, as well as a different approach from energy managers and FM service providers. John Jago, Private Sector Managing Director at ENGIE explains:

It is a well-accepted that ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ and in the past gaining access to the necessary information for timely measurement has been something of a challenge.

Now, that situation is reversing. We live in a world of ‘big data’ where the volumes of digital data are predicted to double every two years for the foreseeable future. So the challenge now is how to discern the wood through the trees, so you can access and analyse the data you actually need to underpin informed management decisions.

This is a situation that applies across all aspects of energy and facilities management, whether it’s managing energy consumption across an estate, monitoring environmental conditions in zones or analysing calls to a help desk. Fortunately, new technologies are being developed to manage the vast volumes of data now being generated in buildings and other facilities.

For instance, a recent survey of energy managers indicated that only 19% of organisations consider themselves to be ‘very energy efficient’. The majority (68%) rated themselves as ‘fairly efficient’, citing the importance of access to energy consumption data to help them improve performance.

Clearly, introducing a wider range of measuring technologies is the first step in gaining access to meaningful data but there is then a danger of an unmanageable deluge of data. Wading through vast amounts of information is an unwelcome distraction for facilities and energy managers who have many other pressures on their time.

One option is to introduce an energy management platform that delivers the data, reports and alerts that users require, enabling them to focus on the details that help to identify existing problems as well as spotting opportunities for improvement. For example, energy data analysis recently helped Plymouth University identify a faulty heating valve in an air handling unit that was wasting energy.

Data gathered from a range of sensors in a building can also be used to create a profile of how a building is operating – again, as long as the key data can be quickly and easily extracted from the ‘background noise’.

Armed with the right information, building operators and their service providers can analyse different zones of a building and capture the preferences of the people working in them. Various parameters can then be adjusted through an intelligent building management system to align the building’s energy performance with the requirements of the people using it.

 

Robotics Process Automation

Another area that helps to keep big data under control is Robotic Process Automation (RPA), creating a virtual workforce to automatically carry out a range of tasks without risk of error or downtime.

This is a relatively new area of technology that our company has been developing with a number of customers. Its key advantage is that it releases more of an FM’s time to concentrate on the people-focused and customer service elements of the role, which will enhance the overall experience for the end user.

These are just a few examples of how big data is driving a need for technologies that enable more intelligent and meaningful analysis of high volumes of information. The vast scope and importance of these technologies is only just being recognised and will require FMs, FM service providers and energy managers to think and operate differently in the future.

 

 

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