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Urban efficiency requires intelligence

Johnson Controls' Lisa Brown talks about data, analytics and the impact both have on efficiency and productivity today and tomorrow.

5 min read


Lisa B

Johnson Contols

This post is sponsored by Johnson Controls.

Data is everywhere. The challenge is harnessing that data, analyzing it and turning it into useful intelligence that becomes a powerful force, driving decisions and investments that shape our communities in positive ways.

In this post, we talk with Lisa Brown, national director for local government at Johnson Controls, about data, analytics and the impact both have on efficiency and productivity today and tomorrow.


How can the information provided through building automation systems help local governments address problems related to equipment operation and building efficiency?

The data generated by building systems can be overwhelming – everything from alarms and utility bills to information about scheduling, energy use, equipment maintenance and so on. What municipal leaders and facility managers really want is the ability to access targeted and relevant data quickly, so they can run their facilities as efficiently as possible and communicate this productivity to their constituents and citizens.

A well-designed building automation system, or BAS, gives them this capability, harnessing and analyzing vast quantities of data and connecting the dots to provide the intelligence they need to detect problems, diagnose their causes and, based on past and current trends, predict future problems. As a result, owners and managers can act quickly and use the intelligence a robust BAS provides to be proactive rather than reactive in their approach to equipment operation and improved building efficiency. More efficient local government entities can mean the difference between small businesses and families relocating to their city or moving elsewhere.


How can analytics help local governments do more with less and make decisions that will affect their communities in positive ways?

With increasing frequency, local governments are being challenged to do more with less. Budgets and staff are decreasing in size even as demands for improved efficiency and compulsory sustainability initiatives are on the rise. The value analytics brings to the table lies in data that equips administrators to make informed decisions about what is required to make buildings operate smoothly, comfortably and most efficiently.

Good analytics turns data into intelligence that saves dollars by helping governments uncover projects, prioritize them in terms of the benefits they offer and track progress toward achieving stated goals and the associated benefits of reduced expenses and increased energy efficiency. Analytics also justifies future investments by proving the validity of savings linked to specific projects. It offers valuable insight into where action is needed, how to improve and control efficiencies, and what type of return can be expected from key investments. This is critical for local government entities, which are often challenged to secure funding for much-needed projects.


When selecting building software, what three things are critically important to consider?

The value analytics brings to local governments depends on the choice of software. Research indicates most people are very visual, so a good building automation system should present relevant data in a way that makes it easy for users to read quickly, understand immediately and act upon in a timely fashion, making decisions without needing to sift through additional data. It should be simple enough to make users feel instantly and continually successful and confident.

In addition, the software should be intuitive, working the way users work. In fact, research shows tools that follow the natural work flow help users solve problems quickly, increasing their productivity.

Finally, the software should support mobility. Facility operators, building owners and municipal administrators are on the move. Having access to information wherever, whenever they need it equips them to do their jobs anywhere, making decisions, solving problems and responding to requests in a more timely and efficient manner. These data-driven decisions are leading to improved communications and increased productivity, according to remarks made by Terrence Nadeau, vice president of global procurement for the Johnson Controls Building Efficiency business, at the recent Internet of Things World 2016.


What is meant by the “Internet of Things” and “machine-to-machine,” and why is it important?

The Internet of Things and machine-to-machine have come to mean the same thing  machines are talking to one another and to us, sharing critical information about operations, efficiencies, maintenance requirements, run times, etc., that will prompt action on the part of administrators. This will allow those in charge of machines, buildings and communities to collect data, look at that data in different ways, draw correlations and make decisions that contribute to optimized building performance and reduced operational costs.


Lisa Brown, national director for local government at Johnson Controls. Lisa joined Johnson Controls in 2003 as district sales manager in the company’s Building Efficiency division. In 2011, she was named regional sales director for North East Solutions, and in 2014, she moved into her current position. As national director for local government, Lisa is responsible for growth of the local government market in North America, including the development of strategies, offerings and innovations for local government service and systems markets. Last year, Lisa created Johnson Controls’ local government urban growth initiative, which combines smart city solutions with community outreach and workforce enhancement for midsize to large municipal customers. Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gettysburg College. For the past three years, she has been the east region leader of the Women’s Resource Network of Johnson Controls and served as global ambassador for International Women’s Day. Lisa served 15 years with the Junior League of Montclair-Newark, four of those years as director of community development and outreach in Newark, N.J.  Lisa currently is a board member of the Rumson-Fair Haven Education Foundation. She was honored as one of July 2016’s NY Women of Valor and received the Humanitarian Award from St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters.