From BACnet to Quantum Computing?

The world depends on us, coming together and making this industry far better than it is today. I urge you to join me in going above and beyond to make our future selves proud.

This article is about the latest and greatest with a topic that is Quantum. It also includes some reminiscing into the early days, learning about BACnet, IoT, and what Building Automation Body Buildings think about the starting point.

I’m burning the midnight oil here in Sweden, having spent most of my Sunday co-completing a Digital Twin proposal for a local council in the UK. The Digital Twin play will help them understand where to place future EV-infrastructure in a better way than today, related to these challenges:

  • Understanding existing and future charging networks. Main issues, where are the chargers, where will they be installed in the future? 

  • Where should Kent County focus efforts?

  • Can the EV charger network double up as IoT devices? Air pollution is a big problem. Noise pollution etc.

  • Active Travel, the effect of new schemes before they are implemented. What will happen to the transport network (and health, crime, etc) if we give up road space for bike lanes or active travel? 

  • Road safety, How to bring down deaths and accidents on our roads. What interventions we make will do to road safety in an area.

We do live in interesting times and it’s important to understand that the Digital Twin has many shapes and forms, not only related to that of real estate. The podcast below provides some good insight into the Digital Twin side of things related to Property Management aspects from one of the leading Digitalization companies, WILLOW.

You’ll get there by clicking on the image. My comment to the podcast is of course a way to go Beyond Buildings, in order to come back and learn from other industries that are further ahead so that we don't repeat past mistakes in the Real Estate Industry.

Quantum of Solace 2021

It was quite funny to see that the great Troy Harvey was writing about Quantum, and, Digital Twin Ontologies, in this month’s edition of AutomatedBuildings. I’ve been an editor of the blog for the last couple of years and it seems to be time for some Quantum of Solace in 2021. I like that he takes up Ontology Based-Digital Twins, which was also in the BB-cycle depiction, albeit 5-10 years to mainstream adoption.

Maybe the Quantum Ontology can change that for the real-estate industry? All I know is that Passive Logic is worth a look or two if you haven’t seen them already. They are in the middle of the bracket in the last depiction of the industry at the bottom of this page, but that said, they are probably one of the most advanced tech solutions, specifically made for building automation/energy efficiency in the world today.

And speaking of the platform play, Volvo Cars came out with a very interesting Innovation Portal for their cars the other day.

My Linkedin Conversations this morning shared the importance of “One API” to real estate and Volvo cars have just come out with an innovation portal where outside developers could help in creating better cars and that’s what I was thinking about 5 years ago.

The platform play for buildings - 2015

This is an article that goes back in time when I had no idea about BACnet, cloud infrastructure, or what building automation really was. But that changed quite fast. I knew that this was an industry I wanted to be in when I understood that buildings/construction combined are responsible for over one-third of global final energy consumption. There’s much value to be created when reducing the impact of nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions worldwide. I still see this as one of the most important industries to change for the better. And now with Post-Covid, the new normal, the importance of well-being, and a great indoor climate is even more relevant than before.

This article is a glimpse into the story that has led me to speak at the AHRexpo about open hardware and open software, to Digital Twins and Quantum Computing and Industry 4.0 blockchain-based initiatives. I have recently taken lead for Lifecycle Digital Twins in the Manufacturing Working Group at the Digital Twins Consortium, and if anyone wants to discuss Interoperability and Integration and want to contribute to the industry, let me know! The great Anto Budiardjo is also in the consortium and we will be discussing these topics soon that will be recorded.

Being in all these working groups helps me go Beyond Buildings to better understand what is being done today in other industries. To come back to the future in Real Estate, to not only predict, but also influence where the industry will go in the next month, year, and decade from now.

My articles are usually a mix between the personal and the professional and this one is no different. There are a lot of links to the past, and I see that I have gone from thinking that gimmicky is gold to becoming somewhat of a building automation bodybuilder myself (referencing this article below discussing the approach to getting started with Smart Buildings, inspired by the great Tyson Soutter from Siemens).

I hope this will be an interesting read and please reach out if you have any questions or comments!

From IoT- Ingredients to Smart Building recipes

I’ve been thinking that I was more in the right 2,5 years ago, thinking that Smart building initiatives have to start somewhere small and to go with the low-hanging fruits. Because I must admit that now that I know much more about the challenges that exist. I too fall into the trap of wanting to do too much and that rarely succeeds. It’s challenging to go after the (s)low hanging fruits when there is so much to do. But maybe I need to go back to that way of thinking? How should Smart Building projects start?

How can we expect Smarter Buildings when the foundation is missing for the most part?

In 2021, I will continue my efforts in spreading knowledge around Innovation and Digitalization. From an early focus on IoT enabled buildings with a BACnet base, I am now also involved in national Digital Twin initiatives as well as European Digital Twin simulations that will help stakeholders mitigate climate change in a data-driven collaborative way. I am part of working groups in data-management, digital twin initiatives in healthcare, aerospace and defense, natural resources, as well as infrastructure and real-time real estate.

I have been working with construction companies for the last 1,5 years and I can clearly see that it is a broken real-estate industry that needs to be fixed. How can we expect Smarter Buildings when the foundation is missing for the most part?

Covid might help accelerate the much-needed outcomes from automated buildings but it seems that there is more of a mindset shift that is needed than a technological one. People love to talk about what is wrong in industries and fail to act and to discuss what is right and share a good example with others. Innovation still happens behind closed doors for the most part and while the ingredients are out there, for the most part, most industries lack the recipes and instructions needed to get started, get going, and succeeding with digitalization for real.

Future generations depend on us to fix all these problems together and I know enough by now to understand the problems as well as the solutions needed. This is why I will try to accelerate practical innovation examples through participation in innovation hotbeds and more discussions with thought leaders in the space through my podcast and newsletter.

Going back in time

I have learned a lot in these five and a half years and my focus has only been on innovation and finding, as well as understanding root causes. Pivotal moments were of course learning about BACnet and the whole realm of the Protocol Wars that exist. And I am still surprised by the lack of knowledge of what BACnet has been, what it is, and what it will be. I still hear people lamenting that BACnet is dead, without even knowing that BACnet can transfer data via a RESTful API in a secure and standardized way. Even more so now with BACnet/SC. But on the other hand, more modern interfaces like Graphql are also utilized to bridge the gap between the existing and the new, where companies like Buildings IoT are leading the charge with insightful leaders such as Brian Turner at the helm, moving to Ontology Wars instead of Protocol Wars.

An early hero of mine was the legendary Steve Tom, having read the seminal article about BACnet/WS at least 20 times. It was also featured at automated buildings. This article and the work I was doing at Go-IoT led to me co-authoring the article about BACnet/IoT in BACnet foundations which seems like two decades ago. I remember discussing edge, IoT, and other things that were then new to me and that I was out of my depth. But when industry titans like Bernard Isler made comments like “I enjoyed it immensely”, I kind of knew that I might be on the right track.

The article from Brad White about the Trillion Dollar opportunity is an article I always go back to when trying to understand why we are doing this and the need between a linear understanding of the investment in Smart Building technology and what the outcomes could be. Also an article I’ve read at least 20 times.

But I can also see that we need to go beyond buildings at this point, and more towards the realization of smarter cities, well-being, and productivity.

Contextual Intelligence shapes Collective Intelligence that enables Continous Intelligence

Understanding what contextual intelligence means and how it is related to driving continuous intelligence is paramount in an AI-augmented world. It is even more important nowadays than ever before post-Covid when the jury is out in how many people will go back to commercial real-estate. These questions were definitely not on my mind when I first heard about connected buildings. My dream back then was to unify all (wo)mankind underneath the umbrella and power of Audiobooks…

The future foundation and the road to get there

“If you look at smartphones, they all have an app store, right? And if you look at connected vehicles, they too are starting to become less hardware and more software where the focus is on building a platform and opening an eco-system. Volvo is now utilizing the Android Platform to build great solutions on top of it. Why re-invent the wheel?” – Nicolas Waern, 2018

That sentence was written 2,5 years ago when I was the acting CEO for the IoT hardware/software company Go-IoT, and it stands true today as it did back then. It comes from my first article at

I’ve had a monthly cadence since then, with thought pieces about BACnet IoT, Edge vs Cloud, Semantic interoperability, the industry, and its organizations, and of course Digital Twins and AI. But first out are some olden (and golden?) blog posts that I wrote when I was with Go-IoT.

From the Go-IoT days

·         Stuck in API hell

·         Robust, Attractive and Useful Buildings

·         Harness the Power of Powerline

From Linkedin

·         How can WE create Smarter Buildings?

·         Building automation bodybuilding

·         What connectivity option to choose?

From Beyond Buildings

·         Mending a broken real estate industry

·         Digitize my asset

·         A new era of Construction

The mission

I aim to disrupt the ways of working in this industry that will lead to creative destruction for the most part. It will solve the skill-shortage gap with technology as an enabler. It will be people first and AI a close second. The recipe of going from BACnet to Quantum Computing does exist and for the ones who want to go after it, just let me know and we will do it together. Existing dragons, new dragons, whatever happens, we need to create an industry that does not lock people in.

We cannot settle for just modern technologies with old mindsets.

We cannot settle for lock-in effects that make it harder for everyone involved to create more sustainable buildings.

The world depends on us, coming together and making this industry far better than it is today. I urge you to join me in going above and beyond to make our future selves proud. Or what do you think we need to do?

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Nicolas Waern

Innovation and Digital Transformation Expert – Helping companies compete in the age of AI