Today's commercial and industrial buildings tend to have a variety of heterogeneous systems, say HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning), security, lighting, energy management, elevator/escalator, garbage disposal, fire-fighting, etc. Building Automation, or “Smart Buildings”, is a growing trend to centralize a variety of these systems into one management platform to allow the automatic control of the whole building.
Building Automation and “Smart Buildings” are often mentioned together because Building Automation makes a building smart and responsive like human-beings and eventually work better. Building Automation not only reduces energy costs but also brings a more comfortable and healthy environment for occupants. Building Automation also increases the value and sustainability of a building. It provides a building with an environment-friendly public profile that poses as a green marketing tool.
Where it all began
By the 1970s, the U.S. had its commercial buildings and industrial facilities together account for about half of the country’s total energy use. Some buildings were even historic. So the earliest purpose of Building Automation was to make older buildings energy-efficient and cost-effective. In the following years, the demand for Building Automation increased for the purpose of comfort and convenience for occupants. Later in the recent two decades, the technology for Building Automation skyrocketed with the revolutions of digitalization and broadband network. Building Automation stretched to the automation of HVAC, firefighting, video surveillance and so on. Today security has become another important benefit that Building Automation can bring. Some of the features can even be used remotely on a smartphone, tablet, or PC.
Technologies that make Building Automation happen
The core technology needed for Building Automation is the application that collects and transforms system device data into analytics. Sometimes system devices are also managed by this application.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects with an IP address for Internet connection. The Internet allows communication between these objects even though these devices belong to different systems. In the past, heterogeneous system devices such as camera, access card reader, thermostats, etc. were proprietary and expensive. However, the introduction of resistors, microprocessors and digital computers in the last decades has brought more devices and increased integration between heterogeneous systems.
- Data Analytics
IoT is a network with a large number of heterogeneous devices installed on disparate locations. These devices produce a vast amount of data, and therefore the network needs an efficient and capable mechanism to handle and analyze these data. The meaningful results drawn from the analytics will be used to improve system performance and prevent predictable system failure.
The Biggest Rewards of Building Automation
Although the very first purpose to automate a building is for cost and energy, the biggest rewards Building Automation can bring are security and safety. Imagine how an automated commercial / industrial building can work: It can shut itself down after working hours. It turns off the lights and re-adjusts utilities and room temperatures when the clock strikes 5:00 P.M. If some of the office workers want some extended hours of paperwork, it’s alright with the building as long as they swipe their ID cards at the card readers at the front door. The building will restore the service for them. The building will reactivate relevant elevators, shed a light on the corridor they go by and weatherize the office room for them again.
If a burglar tries to break in from the back door, the building will turn on the light, tilt the camera lens at the burglar and send an alarm notification to the building’s property management team. The property managers can speak to the burglar through the public address or by the two-way audio featured by some sophisticated IP cameras.
In case of a fire, smoke detector will sense smoke and signal the building to close all fire doors, put down all smoke barriers in all fire compartments, and issue a fire alarm to the control room while sounding an audible or visual alarm to the building occupants.
The challenges to overcome
Being so advantageous, Building Automation takes a lot of nasty jobs, the so-called “system integration”, to achieve. In the past, it meant troubles and chaos when it came to system integration. For example, there are lighting fixtures, HVAC, public address, car park, elevator/escalator, fire fighting, energy management, security, garbage disposal and so on. They are so diverse, and they use different data structures and software applications. The data acquisition structure alone poses many challenges. System integrators need to decide a communication protocol for different systems to work together and exchange system data over the network.
GVD's 3rd-party system integration
GVD has a variety of NVRs with Modbus support. Modbus is the most popular serial-communication protocol widely-used for Building Automation. With Modbus, GVD’s Central Management Platform can quickly integrate with the automated system of a building without the extra effort of engineering work.
- NVR Modbus Slave support – collects status data from a video channel
GVD NVRs support Modbus Slaves to real-time collect status data from a video channel when recording starts, video is lost, motion starts, and DI point becomes active, and send them to a 3rd-party system.
- Modbus Master / Slave supports – send and receive 3rd-party system data
GVD Central Management Platform features a "Device & Alarm Manager", the SW-E2200, that supports Modbus Master to collect status data from a 3rd-party system. The software also supports Modbus Slave to send status data of a video channel to a 3rd-party system.
- Open platform & modular designs
Open-platform design is one of GVD’s core value. GVD Central Management Platform comes with open-platform design to take in a 3rd-party system without much trouble. GVD has successful 3rd-party integration cases, including GE for an access control system, BOSCH for fire panels, and Honeywell for digital alarm receivers. GVD products also provide SDK & APIs to provide users with the best way to develop their own applications.
- Integration Gateway – Interoperates with a 3rd-party system
GVD Central Management Platform is an all-in-one modular platform to provide comprehensive support of 3rd-party systems. Well-known 3rd-party systems supported include GE for access control, BOSCH for fire panels, and Honeywell for digital alarm receivers. SDK & APIs are also provided with GVD products for users to develop their best applications for Building Automation.
- Modbus support & TCP messages – promise Smart Buildings and Smart Cities
GVD NVR features powerful alarm management, capable of sending TCP messages to alert the property management team of a building. These advantages make the NVR highly competent for some promising solutions, such as Smart Buildings for DCS (distributed control system), such as Siemens' and Honeywell's, and Smart Cities for CAP (common alerting protocol), such as IBM IOC.
GVD Central Management Platform features
- Real-time video-wall control
For video walls, GVD features "Synchronous video-wall control", which means your operation at the management console is directly and promptly applied to a remote video wall, for example, you can drag-and-drop a video to output it on a remote video wall, whether live or playback, and you can drag-and-drop a video pattern to change the video layout on a remote video wall. All video walls on the UI can be freely relocated onscreen to reflect their real location on-site so you can quickly tell which video wall to manage by the relative location shown onscreen.
- The Device Keeper
To better control a large project, GVD's central management software VMS Manager features a dedicated page to show how many devices are there in the system and how these devices are working at the moment. The information is shown on an efficient overview page in a organized and classified way. 11 types of devices are supported on such an overview page, including camera channels, NVRs, DIO modules, doors, video wall displays, directory servers, failover servers, backup servers, station servers, etc. The efficiency of such an overview is allowed by a "Device Keeper", which promptly detects any available device, such as an NVR, camera, decoder, or failover/backup server, and so on, and adds it to the Central Management Platform. Also, this "Device Keeper" continuously monitors and auto-updates the change of the status of an existing NVR. This "Device Keeper" is a innovative design that lessens the complexity of the setup and configuration of a large video surveillance system.
Search a large group of devices
- Case Builder
GVD's central management software VMS Manager features a tool to let you systematically inquire into a suspicious event on your business floors. You can record each your investigation act with an "Investigation Note", with text description, video clip, and screenshots attached, and these notes can further be stored in an "Investigation List", which then forms an organized documentation of your investigation on an a case. In some worst conditions, the document can provide you with the evidence required for criminal investigation.
- GIS Maps & Facility Maps
The central management software VMS Manager supports GIS maps and "Facility Maps" (i.e. "floor plans") to truly mitigate the complexity of significant-area IP video surveillance, such as city surveillance and homeland security.
GIS map view
Facility map view
- Adaptive Video Streams
The Adaptive Video Streams is a technology for a viewer to stream not necessarily the high-profile main stream but possibly the low-profile sub-stream as long as the size of the viewer is small enough to compensate for the low-profile video quality, which poses a great help for video display in poor network conditions. The central management software, VMS Manager, lets users freely enable/disable this feature for an individual viewer and lets users define a platform-wide limit on the viewer size to give up this feature to make the feature more flexible.
Use Adaptive Video Streams
to save network bandwidth
- Panoramic dewarp
The central management software, VMS Manager, lets you dewarp a distorted video from a panoramic fish-eye camera when you are managing a video wall, video-documenting an investigation, or conducting local monitor if the video doesn't get dewarped by GVD HD NVR.
Dewarp a distorted video with panoramic filters
- Zero interruption of video streams
GVD Central Management Solution not only includes redundancy such as failover and backup but also breaks through the limit of failover with "Edge recording", in that a GVD NVR automatically reduplicates the video data stored in the SD or memory of a camera after video recording task fails back onto the NVR. Video live-streams and playback won't be interrupted with such "Edge recording". This feature is much helpful for a broken network and also better protection of video data.
- Camera tag management
The central management software, VMS Manager, comes with a unique and very useful “Tag Management” to let you efficiently spot one particular channel among a large group of them. The “Tag Management” relies on a virtual label attached to a channel to quickly sort it out from a big group of online ones.
Quick camera query with "Tag Management"
- Powerful SW-E2200 bundled
A software program SW-E2200, a.k.a. the "Device & Alarm Manager", is pre-installed with the Central Management Platform to bring a full remote configuration tool of NVRs and cameras. The software also allows some advanced video operations including synchronous playback and optimized video display, as well as sophisticated video computing such as Video Content Analysis and advanced metadata search.
, the Device & Alarm Manager
- The support of HTML-based floor plans
When a building has a large amount of cameras and digital I/O points, it can be difficult for the building’s property management to efficiently retrieve a video or manage a DO point. The Device & Alarm Manager, SW-E2200, allows users to insert a floor plan in the system to get an geographic overview of a monitored floor. An unique utility named Map Editor is bundled to load a floor plan with a linked graphic or text to conjure up a video or an associated file. This feature combined with “video tour” can help property managers save much time in keeping an eye on the vast floor areas of a large building.
- Powerful user management
A commercial or industrial building often has a professional team to manage the property and the real estate. Such a team may come in various departments. Both GVD Central Management Console and the Device & Alarm Manager, SW-E2200, come with powerful management of user accounts and user groups. The SW-E2200 allows system administrators to manage a user name, password, department, job title, email, phone number, logon schedule and the most important of all, the permission to use a feature or access a part of the system. The permission settings are optimized and categorized in a number of groups, including camera operation, alarm management, camera/system configuration, etc.
- Hardware health monitor & powerful alarms
The SW-E2200 comes with friendly GUI to let you jump seamlessly from the localhost to a remote video channel, or from this function to another. The platform has a powerful alarm management tool to let you define which condition to form an event and which sophisticated reaction for the NVR to take. A variety of hardware conditions can be monitored such as HDD temperature, CPU temperature, fan speed and so on. Users can also set the NVR to email a notice or pop up an alarm message onscreen to call your prompt attention once a noteworthy event comes up.