INTERVIEW: Bob Sharon From BLUE IOT & How The Internet Of Things Will Change The Way We Work And Live

Blue IoT is a global leader in the development and delivery of smart buildings & cities environmental management platforms & integration. They develop and leverage leading technologies, platforms, sensors of all descriptions, combined with data analytics and interpretation, machine learning, and AI.  Blue IoT technologies and services make substantial reductions in risk, carbon footprint, energy, maintenance & operational costs while improving safety, OHS, cyber security, health & wellness, human comfort and productivity.

During challenging times we face today, it’s good to know there are proptech disruptors such as Blue IoT that can adapt their solutions to incorporate risk reductions for COVID-19 management in buildings, public places and assets. These include temperature measurement of people entering, real time people counting, people proximity mapping, safe airflow management and control, the use of anti microbial sprays for filters and cooling coils (good for 12 months – TGA approved), as well as filter pressure differential monitoring.

Challenging times like the present should catalyse the yearn of pioneers to advance smart buildings, cities, and assets, to optimise the wellness of buildings, places, people and the planet. Blue IoT is thus an ardent believer in the aptitude of IoT, cloud-controlled smart systems & sensors, AI, machine learning, LPWANs, and noble cybersecurity in delivering material outcomes to the triple bottom line of building and energy automation, fault detection and diagnostics, health, wellness and safety along with a huge support toward carbon netzero.

The Blue IoT IoT BMS/EMS called Encompass Blue delivers visualisation, control, and management of a building or asset from any device anywhere using wireless non IP based sensors and controllers utilising open platform technologies that allow interoperability and collaboration with other platforms. Costing about half the cost of traditional systems and delivering paybacks of under three years, this disruption is now paving the way to digitally transform the built environment.

Thanks for joining us, Bob. In simple terms, can you tell us what the Internet of Things is?   

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a bunch of ‘things’ that connect over the internet.  It can be your laptop, phone, sensors or machines, even your car, watch or Fitbits… anything.  IoT is about the way these things connect and the data collected, which help us to better manage ourselves and our environment.

What is Blue IoT about and how do you use technology?

Blue IoT is a ‘smart cities integrator’.  Blue means ‘The Blue Economy’ – tackling issues that cause environmental and related problems in new ways that enables improved productivity and sustainable growth – and Internet of Things.

We’ve created technologies that help manage the built and natural environments for greater efficiency to improve user comfort and overall impact on the environment.  We’re a market ‘disruptor’.  Our solutions are half the price of traditional technology and deliver far more value. Holding significant industry awards under its belt – the IoT Pioneer Award (2019), the FMA FM Industry Awards for Excellence – Industry Innovation (2019), and recently, the Global FM Highly Commended Award of Excellence in FM 2020 – this Australian innovation is well on its way to a renowned global impact on the triple bottom line.

What types of clients do you work with?

We work with commercial and government clients to deliver tangible smart building and energy management outcomes.  We provide a 3600 view on asset management that helps Building & Asset Managers, Planners, and anyone responsible for managing indoor and outdoor space to operate smarter, healthier, and more sustainably.

How do your solutions help?

Our invention is an IoT cloud based Building Management System (BMS) and Energy Management System (EMS) – commonly known as a Building Automation System (BAS). BAS systems are installed to automate building devices like air conditioning, lighting, and temperature control.  The devices are monitored and controlled to ensure everything works effectively so people are safe and comfortable.  Traditionally, organisations use proprietary BAS systems, which cannot be easily upgraded or enhanced. They’re expensive to change and need to be completely replaced over time.  Blue IoT have developed a cloud-based solution that is flexible, scalable, cheaper, easy to integrate, and provides better overall outcomes.  From early planning to long term management, it’s about the total lifecycle and that is we can offer massive benefits to clients.

How does your technology differ from traditional systems?

We use wireless sensors instead of bulky hardware. This means they can be placed anywhere, and being battery operated they last around 5 years – sometimes up to 10.  The data collected from our sensors is integrated with machine learning and soon AI, enabling continuous optimisation of spaces for energy saving and comfort.

We also have a predictive maintenance.  We proactively monitor electrical circuits to ensure systems and other components are working correctly, and detect problems early so planned maintenance is implemented and costs and downtime are reducing.

Our system dashboard provides the Site Manager with complete visibility and control at all times, and from any device, anywhere. This allows them to continuously monitor their assets and watch the auto adjustment of devices for efficiencies that reduce running and maintenance costs while improving the user experience, making it safer and healthier for people, and over time, lowering the impact on the environment.

Can you give us an example of how your technology has worked for a client?

We recently commissioned a 40-year-old 2-story office building for City of Dandenong, in Melbourne. With minor adjustments to 22-year-old infrastructure, in the first six months we reduced kilowatts by 46% and gas usage by 64%, year on year comparing utility bills. Over time this will translate to massive savings for our client, and a huge reduction in their carbon footprint.

What else can the sensors do?

Sensors can be adjusted for any environment and for space usage. For example, using heatmaps we can monitor how many people are in a room or building, and the system will automatically adjust the climate for optimum comfort.

We also partner with relevant integrated technologies, such as thermal cameras and sprays, to automate adjustment and controls. For example, there are already sprays available that kill COVID-19 and can last for up to 1 week on surfaces.  This detection, monitoring and actioning could be highly beneficial for critical public infrastructure, like airports and train stations.  Health, safety and wellness are important aspect of our platform and align with the WELLS Rating for buildings that we work with. We aim to ensure the user experience is second to none.

How will IoT shape the way open-space assets & public places are understood, designed, constructed & managed?

Our system integrates with Asset Management platforms. Sensors can be used in town planning to analyse the environment early, which would help clients, planners and architects to specify the right materials, understand the lifecycle requirements and cost for the open space.

We can be working with Work Order Management, Asset Management and meta data through open APIs. We are great believers in open platforms, and the democratisation of data which makes it easy to collaborate. We basically plug into other platforms and pool all the data. For example, integration with a Work Order Management System can automatically detect damage or broken assets and alert someone to repair them. Alerts can be set up to monitor various assets, and the entire system can be tailored to suit the environment and its usage.

How can data be gathered & utilised to inform decision-making, enhance user experiences, and save clients and asset owners money?    

For example, we have soil sensors that can determine moister levels, salinity, and chemical makeup. Analysis from the sensors data is applied to assess the best times to distribute water, therefore reducing costs, and sustaining the landscapes. Sensors can be linked to local weather forecasting to ascertain if additional watering is needed outside of scheduled services. Golf courses are a good example. They cost a lot of money in energy and watering. Our products reduce the pump usage and saves costs by delivering water when and where needed, and in the right way. Fertilise can also be fed through the system based on conditions and automation.

Are you currently working with clients to manage outdoor spaces?

Apart from golf courses whom we are in discussions with, we’re dealing with lots of Councils. For example, Dandenong Council use a company called Campaign who do maintenance. We’re also dealing with Accor Vacation Resorts who have timeshare all over the place as well as known brands such as The Sebel, and in discussions with other hotel operators such as Whydham and others.

What is your vision for your technology and Blue IoT?

We want to bring this technology to the world and be the leaders in smart building technology.  We believe in bringing our innovation to all businesses small and large, government organisations and communities – everyone should be able to take full advantage of the benefits of this technology, including reducing carbon footprint, improving people’s health and safety… right through to carbon neutrality and creating a better planet for everyone.

We aspire to be leading the world in the next 5 years. We’re already leading the world in terms of the technology, but our business is young. We just need the right partners and investors, and the right staff. If we do everything right, we’ll deliver.  We just have one highly discriminatory employment policy, which is, if you haven’t got a sense of humour you can’t work for us! Fun is important.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

Our bigger vision transcends business and environmental sustainability, with an avid goal being the building of orphanages, prevention of child slavery, child marriage and poverty, and mentoring struggling entrepreneurs. These are all integral aspects of our dream!. In my former business, I thought I knew everything but I lost it all. When entrepreneurs fall, they don’t have anywhere to go for family, business and emotional support. There is nothing like it to my knowledge. I don’t believe in handouts, but I do believe in helping people to achieve their vision.

Thanks for your time, Bob. What an interesting and exciting area you are in. We wish you every success and look forward to seeing your technology transform our world for the better.

To learn more about Blue IoT visit, www.blueiot.com.au

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