The Five Types of Data Analytics for Smart Buildings

By Bill Moten
Smart Buildings Practice Leader

As discussed in my last blog, Autonomation vs. Autonomous Analytics, transforming a facility to a fully autonomous smart building provides predictive actions based on the data from Internet of Things (IOT) devices, a Building Management System (BMS), and external data sources. To truly optimize occupant experience and building performance, the implementation of a data analytics tool to analyze large sets of data and provide actionable recommendations from the data is an industry imperative. Depending on the sophistication level of the data analytics tool, the value of the results will vary. Let’s review the four classic types of data analytics:

  1. Descriptive: What is happening?
  2. Diagnostic: Why is it happening?
  3. Predictive: What’s likely to happen?
  4. Prescriptive: What do I need to do?

Now let’s assume a smart refrigeration system is failing. Here is the information organizations would expect to receive from each of these analytic types:

  1. Descriptive: Refrigeration unit #7 is running too warm at 34*
  2. Diagnostic: Refrigeration unit #7 is running to warm at 34* due to low freon pressure
  3. Predictive: Refrigeration unit #7 needs to be checked due to compressor cycles trending longer and freon pressure dropping over the last 24 hours.
  4. Prescriptive: Informs team to buy five pounds of freon and call a repair person to fix the leak on refrigeration unit 7 due to compressor cycles trending longer and freon pressure dropping over the last 24 hours.

There is a fifth type of analytics you may be hearing about call Semantic. Semantic analytics incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) and enables the building to be self-aware. A smart building with semantic analytics figures out not only what is wrong and how to fix it, but semantics also provides the necessary “smart” information for an autonomous transaction to launch to correct the problem.  Using the same smart refrigeration system scenario, here’s a potential semantic response:

  • Semantic: An order is automatically placed for five pounds of freon, a repair appointment is scheduled, and the facilities team is informed.

I believe that the continued advancement of AI in analytics will find its way into the built environment. With other industries, such as healthcare or retail, access to data, and the analysis and effective use of the data evolves, leading to groundbreaking innovation. AI can be controversial and will need to be carefully and ethically implemented over time in the built environment This is sounding like science fiction, but like most science fiction from years past, it eventually becomes a reality.