Over the last 4+ years, we have heard a lot of HVAC data acquisition horror stories. Tales involving unyielding IT departments, seemingly habitually broken VPNs and less-than-easy-to-work-with controls vendors. Perhaps the most disquieting of all are the horror stories involving efforts to acquire data that – rather than improve the operation of HVAC systems - overwhelm the OT network and bog-down the system in data requests. As my mother-in-law is wont to say, “it can feel like no good deed goes unpunished.”

For ACE IoT, the not-so secret keys to successful data acquisition projects are relatively straight-forward:

  1. Offer an approach to network security that reflects the risk-management concerns of Enterprise IT Departments. For most of our customers, ACE IoT completes the required security review forms and participates in security review meetings with IT Department teams that oversee the network where an ACE IoT gateway will be deployed.

  2. Offer alternatives to establishing a VPN connection. Site-to-site VPNs are a rapidly vanishing vestige of a bygone era. Conscientious IT organizations are requiring solutions that allow them to maintain ultimate control of the devices communicating on their networks. An edge device with continuous patch management fits this paradigm much better than opening a portal to an unknown world.

  3. Monitor the health of the OT Network on which the ACE IoT gateways are deployed. Monitoring helps us ensure that data acquisition tasks will not degrade the baseline performance of a building’s systems.

Monitoring the network health of buildings is a critical, but sometimes overlooked, aspect of effective data acquisition projects. We anticipate monitoring and reporting on the network health in buildings will become increasingly important as more building-owners deploy Automated System Optimization (ASO) technologies, participate in advanced demand management incentive programs, and utilize grid-interactive technologies, including battery storage systems, to power their buildings and lower peak demand charges. For effective and reliable integrations between a building’s BAS and these types of advanced technologies, monitoring OT network health will be paramount.

ACE IoT Releases VOLTTRON Agent for Uploading BACnet Traffic to Optigo Networks’ Visual BACnet

Because of the importance of monitoring a building’s network health, ACE IoT has been offering our customers the ability to integrate our gateways with Optigo Networks’ Visual BACnet platform, the industry leading BACnet network monitoring and troubleshooting tool. The integration allows our customers to access advanced network health reporting without having to deploy any additional hardware or manage any additional systems.

The customer feedback to this integration has been so positive that, earlier this month, we released an open source VOLTTRON agent that captures BACnet Traffic and uploads the data to Optigo Networks’ Visual BACnet API. By collecting BACnet traffic from the Eclipse VOLTTRON platform, Visual BACnet can monitor a building’s OT network health. Significantly, the newly released VOLTTON agent includes the capability to monitor unicast traffic generated by any application running on Eclipse VOLTTRON. Of course, the agent also has the capability to monitor the impact of data acquisition workloads on a building’s network health.

VOLTTRON + Visual BACnet – a combination needed to ensure the quality and reliability of smart building data.

At ACE IoT, we are committed to open source and to sharing the tools that enable better faster stronger smart building deployments. We think this new agent will be a useful contribution to a growing ecosystem of folks looking to bring IT-like software tooling to OT Network environments. We are thrilled that the leaders of Optigo Networks share our enthusiasm for the new VOLTTRON agent.

According to Ping Yao, Co-Founder and CTO of Optigo Networks, the VOLTTRON agent is a step forward towards democratizing and activating the data needed for buildings to truly be smart.

“A smart building requires harvesting massive amounts of data points that can in turn be used to improve its efficiency. But what happens when data is either incomplete, missing entirely, or worse, erroneous? The integration of Visual BACnet with ACE IoT’s VOLTTRON agent provides users the ability to ensure their OT networks are healthy and that the data they collect is reliable. ” - Ping Yao, Optigo Networks

The newly released agent and helpful documentation is available on ACE IoT’s Github. Installing the agent uses the standard process for installing agents on the VOLTTRON platform. Anyone interested can review detailed instructions in the official docs.

About ACE IoT Solutions. At ACE IoT, we act as data plumbers for buildings, providing an end-to-end solution delivering key data directly to our clients’ preferred data analytics system or data lake. We use open-source software tools to establish independent Data Layers (IDLs) in buildings and we do not charge for data on a per-point basis. We aim to resolve for our clients their data acquisition headaches. Please contact Bill Maguire (bill@aceiotsolutions.com) for additional information about ACE IoT and the support we provide our customers.

Please follow ACE IoT on our LinkedIn page.