As part of my obligations as a Ph.D student at ITU, I have to lecture and supervise master students. For the second year, I am supervising the Global Software Development project cluster, which is a mandatory course in the SDT (Software Development and Technology – Softwareudvikling og Teknologi) branch. Students have to solve a technological problem and offer a software solution for it. However, far from being only a software development course, student need to carry out this labor in collaboration with a global partner. In this case, the partner is a group of master students at Strathmore University in Kenya. The topic for GSD’13 is building monitoring.
The goal is to provide services that collect information coming from the building and visualize it somehow to people using the services, therefore increasing the interaction between the building and those using it. These services should allow individuals to be aware of how their actions affect the state of the building, in particular energy consumption. But they should also enable people responsible for the maintainance of the building, Facility Management (FM), to have a better understanding of the building activity(monitor), and to modify its behaviour(actuate) in order to, for instance, make it more power efficient. Counting on these kind of services is a step forward for ITU to turn into a green building, and to help with Denmark’s overall goal of being a fossil-free society by 2050.
In this context, I and some of my colleagues have developed a building simulator, we have baptized as BISP (Building Information Service Platform). This building simulator is a platform, students can use to test the services we have mentioned before. Allowing them to actuate a real building is dangerous (and I am sure illegal too). The main components of the BISP are:
A Building Interface that (as its name indicates) interfaces a building representation. It is worth mentioning that the building representation in itself is decoupled from the rest of the simulator, and can thereby by changed. The idea behind this is that complex representations can be used (e.g. Revit Models, IFC databases, etc), increasing their value and functionality, by adding an addition cycle to their operational life: Building Management. Normally these kind of models die when construction is done. However counting on a platform like BISP can help building facility management (FM) to have a better understanding of the building they are taking care of. At the moment we count on a dummy representation of a building, where rooms, lights, water access points, etc are hardcoded. This example should be enough for our students to think of the services that can be provided and their implementation.
A Simulator that takes under consideration factors such as: External temperature, day cycles(building inhabitance, daylight, etc), service usage (water, light, etc). This part of our building simulator is the one generating data itself. In order for it to be a real simulator, we allow playing with variables one could not normally modify such as f.x. time. This is, we could simulate a whole year in a few minutes (depending in the machine we are using, of course). Also, other variables such as the time stamps (how often new measurements are generated) are variables. This model is rather complex since it takes many factors into consideration. Still, we hope to improve it in order to be as close as possible to the processes taking place in a real building. The following figure shows some of the information generated by the simulator (Image by Aslak Johansen).
A RestLess Interface that exposes the building information using different formats and languages. This gives a lot of flexibility to the end user, not restricting the programming paradigm or language she might want to use.
The following figure represents the BISP architecture:
The git repository including code and documentation can be found in GitHub (here).
More information on the GSD projects is also available to the public (here).