Jones Lang LaSalle's early M2M success story

Jones Lang LaSalle's early M2M success story

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The buzz around potential applications for the so-called Internet of Things is becoming positively deafening.

ABI Research is the latest market researcher to estimate the market’s size: In early May, it pegged the number of devices that already are wirelessly connected at 10 billion. By 2020, it believes that number will triple to 30 billion.

A new trade association, the International M2M Council, has even been created to help shape vertical machine-to-machine (M2M) applications that will build on the data generated by all of these gadgets, sensors and controllers.

"As the M2M industry enters a phase of broad-based growth, now's the time for leadership companies in the M2M community to create a forum where they can share lessons learned, best practices and ideas for future growth," said Patrick Shay, executive vice president of sales and marketing of Orbcomm, and one of the charter board members for the new council.

A report published by the Carbon War Room offers solution scenarios for energy efficiency, water conservation and agriculture that have particular resonance for sustainability professionals. Some solutions may take years to emerge, but one place where M2M technology is already producing quantifiable results is green buildings.

One early success story is IntelliCommand, a system introduced two years ago by real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). The service, developed in conjunction with Pacific Controls, gathers data from building systems for energy, lighting, heating, cooling, fire prevention and security, sending the information to a cloud-hosted software application for analysis.

When certain predefined parameters are breached, alerts are sent to a control center. There, the JLL technical team can make adjustments remotely or send a technician when human intervention is warranted.

Quantifiable impact

JLL, which manages more than 2.5 billion square feet of commercial property on behalf of huge enterprise clients, has been piloting IntelliCommand with about 10 accounts, said Dan Probst, chair of energy and sustainability services at JLL.

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While it's relatively easy these days to set up a building for optimal performance when it initially is built or occupied, it is difficult to keep them operating that way without continual monitoring, and that's where IntelliCommand fits.

"These systems are full of information that is historically not being used," Probst said. "By running algorithms in the cloud, we can see whether systems are responding appropriately, whether something is performing as it should be. We can even see when performance is getting ready to degrade, before it happens."

At JLL's installation with four sites for a major consumer goods and products company, IntelliCommand helped the client achieve an additional 15 percent to 20 percent savings "on top of where we thought we were doing a good job," Probst said. As a result, JLL is extending the deployment to 76 buildings covering more than 6 million square feet.

IntelliCommand is also being used at the world's fourth busiest airport to help optimize terminal and passenger operations efficiencies. Among other things, the service is automating flight information updates, temperature controls, gate security and lighting, according to JLL's IntelliCommand brochure. For example, if a flight is delayed, that information is immediately available to luggage handlers, who can reprioritize accordingly.

"We are working hard to drive this thinking into all aspects of the business. It should be a factor in every decision," Probst said. 

The upfront cost for enabling IntelliCommand starts around $15,000, depending on the number of locations that are being outfitted, he estimated. That cost, however, could be arranged as part the ongoing monitoring fee that a business will pay for the service. In any case, the payback period for the investment is typically less than two years, Probst said.

Other companies pioneering cloud-based M2M solutions and services for building efficiency include Johnson Controls, with the Panoptix platform; and Serious Energy, with its SeriousCapital service.