Exploring the possibilities for a Smart Campus
A preview of the McMaster Cisco Smart Building Occupancy proof of concept
At their March meeting, the McMaster IT Governance Executive committee endorsed a Cisco Smart Building Occupancy proof of concept project. The purpose of this project is to better understand the opportunities related to automated management of buildings such as HVAC controls for energy savings and improved lighting comfort. This project contributes to the Seamless Foundation and Transformative Information Technologies and Services pillars of the new McMaster IT Strategic Plan. We sat down with Elliot Jeyaseelan, Facility Technology Administrator to learn more about this exciting project:
Tell us about how this project proposal was initiated:
EJ: Last summer, Gayleen Gray, the AVP and CTO, invited a number of McMaster IT folks to join her on a visit to the Cisco Canada head office in Toronto. Cisco demonstrated an initiative they had been undertaking in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to use wireless (wifi) access points in their buildings to assess and smartly detect occupancy in campus buildings without violating privacy issues. This piqued our interest as we have long considered how we might use the technology and data already available in the buildings to help inform how we manage campus buildings. We know this has the potential to impact everything from HVAC and lighting to space booking decisions. And it needs to be sensible, cost-effective, and deployable at a large scale.
How would you describe the project? What is it trying to achieve?:
EJ: This pilot project will be based on a select number of buildings (IAHS, Thode Library and Mary Keyes Residence) and will run for one year so that a full year of seasonal (weather) and people occupancy data (different academic cycles) can be analyzed and used to understand the feasibility and usefulness of this technology.
This pilot phase is really about discovery – understanding how the systems we have can gather the data that will help us to make future decisions. Once we have the data and a method for analysis, we can determine where we go from here and how we can use this approach to optimize energy and cost-saving for our campus.
Who is involved?
EJ: A cross functional project team is being created to administer the pilot and develop the final submission of recommendations. Our external partners include Cisco and UBC researchers who are helping with the technology, software, and knowledge sharing. A range of partners and stakeholders from across McMaster are involved, including: Mohawk College (IAHS); various teams from Facilities (Custodial Services; Utilities; Space Planning and others) and various individuals from UTS and the AVP and CTO office to provide back-end infrastructure and wifi support.
How does this fit into the McMaster IT Strategic Plan?:
EJ: This project contributes to the Seamless Foundation and Transformative Information Technologies and Services pillars of the new McMaster IT Strategic Plan. The initial phase may be non-disruptive, but it captures a philosophy of better integration of different systems (wifi systems, automation and building management technologies) that are already existing on campus. Once we have the data to inform better integration, we can find ways to transform our day-to-day operations.
Importantly, this project highlights the potential to positively impact the end-user experience for students, staff and faculty.
What are you looking forward to with this project?:
EJ: McMaster is a research and technology-focused university. We do a lot of research. My hope is that if we’re able to collect data in buildings across campus, we’ll be able to provide a rich data set for our researchers who are looking for information relevant to a real-world city, as our campus is a mini-city of sorts. This project also presents a major learning opportunity for McMaster as we begin to understand the intricacies and considerations involved with CMX systems. Finally, this could also help continue McMaster’s commitment to sustainable global impact.
Where can people find more information:
EJ: Those interested can find out more information by regularly checking the McMaster IT Strategic Initiatives pageFeatured, News Category