Schneider Electric’s Building Graph Will Support The Evolution Of Building Operating Systems
In October, 2021, Schneider Electric launched a new building operating system, EcoStruxure Building Graph, to enhance data access and software application development for buildings. The software, built on a graph database, aims to help firms overcome integration complexities when centralizing data from various building systems and IoT devices. Firms can also implement software apps on top of EcoStruxure Building Graph, including Schneider Electric’s Engage Enterprise and Building Advisor or use the platform to develop their own apps.
Schneider Electric’s product launch is part of the broader trend of smart building vendors positioning software platforms as building operating systems (BOS). The concept of an operating system is already well established across various IT domains. For PCs, popular operating systems include Apple’s OS X and Microsoft’s Windows, while for smartphones, the most common operating systems are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS. Building technology vendors are targeting a similar vision; a BOS can facilitate the development, deployment and use of software applications to enable smarter buildings. Note that while computer and phone operating systems manage the underlying hardware and provide shared services for the applications, the idea of the BOS is to provide access to all the underlying building data organized in graph database, as well as shared services for building software applications.
So can BOSs transform the built environment in the way that operating systems (like iOS) have enabled smartphones thereby transforming the mobile phone industry? In theory, there is high potential. A BOS can help firms more efficiently and cost-effectively deploy software apps to enhance building operations or employee experience (provided everything is compatible). Once a firm has invested in the BOS, extending the platform to support new usage scenarios should be relatively easy. This vision of a BOS is already coming to life in a small number of flagship buildings, such as the Dar Group using EcoStruxure Building Graph at its new 19,000-square-foot London HQ to support employee wellbeing and sustainability use cases.
The challenge will be implementing BOSs in old buildings. This reflects that ageing facilities often have a spaghetti of different systems in place, some with nearly impenetrable architecture or data standards. Firms may find it cost-prohibitive to roll out a comprehensive BOS to centralize all building data, given the systems integration and data cleaning required. Like many building technologies, we expect BOSs will initially take ground in new buildings before impacting the rest of the market. This is the journey that BMSs went on before becoming relatively commonplace in large facilities. All that said, Schneider Electric’s new Building Graph platform is an exciting step in the evolution of operating systems for buildings.
For more insights on the future of the smart building market, read our latest report 10 Predictions For Smart Building Technology In 2022 And Beyond.