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Google Launches The Digital Buildings Project To Improve Data Quality In Large Building Portfolios

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Google Launches The Digital Buildings Project To Improve Data Quality In Large Building Portfolios

In July 2020, Google released the Digital Buildings project, an open-source initiative that sets out a uniform schema for representing data about buildings and building-installed equipment such as HVAC. The project is hosted on GitHub, allowing users to download and review the code and ontology created. Google is currently using the Digital Buildings ontology and toolset to organize and represent data from 130 of its buildings in the California Bay Area region. The aim is to provide a ‘common vocabulary’ for building managers and engineers to refer to systems and sub-systems in the building.

Google launched the Digital Buildings initiative to help it better manage data from its growing building portfolio with heterogeneous assets and systems. Like other firms with large building portfolios, its facilities team struggled to make sense of building data from the broad mix of devices and systems in place. Specifically, Google’s Digital Buildings ontology sets the parameters for a semantic data model and tools for building, validating and associating equipment with a specific model. BrickSchema and Project Haystack are the most well-known open-source initiatives that advise and guide firms on data tags. Google’s long-term objective is to maintain cross-compatibility and convergence with Haystack and Brick.

Improving the quality of building data is a universal priority for facility managers. Many in the facilities management sector agree that a common data language for assets will be a crucial step in both improving data quality and reducing the cost of data analysis. But it will not be a panacea for all problems; many old buildings still have data locked into ageing automation systems that are running off many proprietary protocols.

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Joy Trinquet

Industry Analyst

Joy is an Industry Analyst in the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice. Her current research agenda focuses on building digital twins, BIM for operations, smart building systems integration as well as architecture, engineering and construction software. Joy joined Verdantix in 2019, and previously worked at BNP Paribas Asset Management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in policy as well as dual minors in computer science and business studies from New York University.