I was recently in New Orleans as a proud representative of George T. Hall Company at the Tridium Niagara Summit 2016. Tridium hosts the Summit every two years as a way for contractors, building owners, software and hardware developers, distributors, security experts and others to come together and discuss the latest products and ideas related to building automation/management systems. This years event was held between May 15th
and May 18th
2016, at the New Orleans Hyatt Regency Hotel, very near the Superdome.
The opening get together on Sunday evening was quite an event. Nearly 1,200 attendees gathered in front of the hotel and paraded over to the Superdome for an outdoor activity where we enjoyed food, drink and, of course, southern hospitality and New Orleans entertainment. It was a fantastic way to get things started!
Monday and Tuesday were all business as we attended many "breakout sessions” where we listened to various experts explain the new products becoming available as well as offer their perspective on the future of the building automation industry. The breakouts were divided into three categories covering developers, integrators and sales people and everyone had the opportunity to attend some or all of the sessions during the two days.
Monday and Tuesday mornings started with breakfast followed by a general session where industry leaders and Tridium management shared their products, plans and visions. The breakouts were scheduled during the afternoons, and each evening, there was a tradeshow made up of dozens of manufacturers displaying their Tridium Niagara related products so that everyone could meet with them and ask questions.
The continuing message throughout the Summit was the rapidly expanding role of "Big Data” as a driving force in the growth of the industry. Software developers were all showing off the strengths of their products and emphasizing the value of the "Cloud” as a means of rapidly acquiring data and storing it for future review by the people responsible for streamlining a buildings efficiency. I was amazed by the changes in building management software and data collection methods that have occurred in just the last two years since the 2014 summit. When you realize that building security, cameras, access control, HVAC and mechanical systems, as well as lighting can all be handled by one building management system, you start to understand how Tridium Niagara has totally transformed the Building Automation Industry. The challenge for all of us is to get this information out to the right people, so that building owners, builders and contractors are aware of the possibilities available from the new technologies.
Whenever we see rapid advancements in technology, we should expect to encounter some hurdles in providing the best solution to a building owner. HVAC, security, plumbing and electrical are all separate trades and each can be greatly influenced by technology in new construction. We have all experienced problems that involve more than one trade and we need to find ways to minimize the finger pointing and blame assignment that comes with that situation. I had the pleasure of attending a breakout session that included a friend and fellow distributor, Scott Cochrane, who offered a possible solution to that problem. His suggestion was to add a level of oversight that reported directly to the owner and influenced all of the contractors on the project. He would understand the owner’s expectations and verify that all of the trade’s guidelines were written with those expectations in mind. All operating sequences would be written to include all trades as required. He offered the title of "Master Systems Integrator”. His job description would be an owner driven manager that keeps all building automation controls organized across multiple trades as required in a particular building. I have oversimplified Scott’s presentation, but I hope that you share my interest in seeing this position on future construction projects. It could really reduce the conflict across trades.
Tuesday evening was the gala farewell dinner at the hotel and as expected, it was a fitting end to a great Tridium Niagara Summit 2016. I want to thank Tridium for hosting the event and I look forward to the next one in 2018. I wonder where that one will be.