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The Case for Building Systems Integration

4 min read


Jim Nannini, Vice President, Building Wide Systems Integration, Johnson Controls

This post is sponsored by Johnson Controls.

Jim Nannini joined Johnson Controls in 2005, as vice president of Building Wide Systems Integration (BWSI). He brings 30 years of information technology services, systems integration and operational leadership experience. Previously, Jim held various leadership positions for FieldCentrix, Resource Phoenix Corporate, Digital Technologies and AT&T (formerly Ameritech). In this post he talks about the benefits of building systems integration.

Question: What are the challenges to building systems integration?

Jim Nannini: The challenges can be grouped into three categories. First is the traditional design and construction process, which hasn’t kept pace with advancements in system technology. Second, outdated procurement methods propagate a disconnected system environment. The third category is fact-based awareness and education. Whenever we challenge the status quo by integrating systems that haven’t been integrated before, people may get uncomfortable. Outlining fact-based information is important.

Q: As the demand for building systems integration grows, can existing buildings be retrofit to meet the demand?

JN: Absolutely. To properly retrofit a building, it’s important to find a systems integrator that offers expertise in building, business/IT and specialty systems, and is experienced at considering the needs of the building and its occupants holistically, across all three system types. It’s also important that the customer’s investment in existing legacy systems be protected and leveraged in the retrofit.

Q: As more information becomes available through building systems integration, how do building owners/governments organize the wealth of data, events and alerts available to them?

 JN: It’s very important that governments look at this across departmental/functional lines as a way to introduce a common command and control structure for all systems, as opposed to individual departments or agencies doing their own thing.

Additionally, these three system types need to be connected, so they can communicate machine-to-machine, sharing data, operating more intelligently, and ultimately impacting outcomes around operational efficiencies, energy utilization efficiencies and human capital.

Q: What will a connected and secure government building look like in 2020?

JN: The opportunity exists to create an environment that fosters productivity. In the last three years, we’ve seen drastic changes in user expectations, in large part because consumers can now access data much more easily, using devices that are mobile and applications that can be readily and inexpensively downloaded. Systems integration makes this same access available in a secure business setting, meeting employee expectations, making them more productive and attracting more millennial individuals to work in government agencies.

Also, the secured seamless integration of technology enables employees to gain information and turn it into knowledge, making them more productive. From the constituent standpoint, government should and will be open 24/7, providing access to permits and other documentation at any time.

 Q: How will governments find the financial resources to install, maintain and regularly upgrade their systems?

 JN: In a greenfield construction environment, there’s an opportunity to stretch budgets by doing things differently. We can leverage systems as well as technology infrastructure across departments, freeing up money to implement additional technology and ensuring the infrastructure will support any future innovations.

Depending on legislation, a performance contracting vehicle can help fund some of these integration projects and systems. In addition, a new procurement process called Private Public Partnerships (P3) looks to government to define performance specifications and then lets the private sector decide how to deliver the specified performance under a fixed budget.

Finally, there are creative things to do with financing and leasing, where a purchase could include the installation, ongoing maintenance and refresh of a system.

Q: Do building integration systems require third party monitoring?

 JN: If systems are properly integrated up front with open secured standards, the amount of data and the connectivity to those systems is greater. This will enable you to see real-time data on how the systems are performing and fix potential problems before they occur. Connectivity provides flexibility in regards to service options. So, government agencies can choose to do their own service and monitoring, perform corrective actions but have someone else monitor their systems, or choose to outsource servicing and monitoring.