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Transforming Smart Buildings and Facilities with Cognizant Connected Places on AWS

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By Rajesh Rajagopalan, Director – IoT at Cognizant
By Allen Fernando, Business Consultant at Cognizant
By Rajesh Vinayagam, Senior Solution Architect at Cognizant

In today’s increasingly digital world, the nature and function of buildings is constantly changing. Facility managers face increasing pressure to adapt to an ever-evolving workplace and regulatory requirements while improving customer comforts and reducing operating costs.

Here are some figures related to the energy costs of operating buildings in the U.S. alone:

  • The combined energy costs for nearly six million commercial buildings and industrial facilities is estimated at $400 billion.
  • An average building wastes 30 percent of the energy it consumes due to in-built inefficiencies.
  • Ongoing operating costs represent 50 percent of a building’s total lifecycle expenses over an estimated 40-year life span, and those costs are growing, often unpredictably.

Though a variety of building automation and management systems have been deployed, facility managers need a single unified view of various disparate closed systems in their facilities, with comprehensive building analytics.

In this post, we will provide an overview of Cognizant’s smart building solution implementation and dive deep into how it works. We’ll also explore why Cognizant chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) for hosting our application and how AWS help us fulfill commitments to customers.

Cognizant is AWS Partner Network (APN) Premier Consulting Partner and Managed Service Provider (MSP) with more than 2,000 AWS Cloud Practitioners, including more than 1,200 AWS Certified Professionals. Cognizant has AWS Competencies in Migration, Healthcare, Life Sciences, and Financial Services.

Cognizant Connected Places

To help businesses further embrace digital technologies, Cognizant Digital Business launched its holistic Connected Places solution on AWS.

Connected Places consolidates and optimizes data across the customer’s portfolio of geographically dispersed buildings, transforming them into self-aware, flexible, and responsive structures that are adaptable to ever-changing environmental conditions and occupant preferences.

With Connected Places, facility managers and other key stakeholders gain insights and access to a single unified view of various systems powering the building. Using a rich set of custom dashboards, facility managers can monitor real-time work orders, KPIs, and consumption patterns across the property portfolio.

Powered by strong analytical engines, Connected Places provides intelligent management insights to reduce costs and improve occupant delight.

The smart solution can be easily integrated with a broad range of existing building management and control systems, assets, and new sensors across facilities to provide intelligent management insights to all stakeholders.

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Figure 1 – Connected Places is an integrated solution touching all aspects of the facility.

Connected Places is an integrated solution that connects and consolidates disparate systems and sensor data creating high-performance facilities that meet the intricate requirements of today’s buildings.

Why AWS?

Cognizant chose AWS for hosting Connected Places to take advantage of AWS Internet of Things (IoT) services, as well as the scalability and flexibility that AWS offers.

AWS supports a wide range of programming languages, protocols, and web application platforms, all of which aided in developing the solution to meet industry needs. Based on demand, Cognizant can scale Connected Places up or down using AWS Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing.

Additionally, Connected Places utilizes specialized components of AWS to create microservices, which handle smart building use cases such as occupancy, indoor positioning, activity-based cleaning and maintenance, visitor handling, and service queue congestion.

The smart solution utilizes various cloud products such as Amazon Kinesis, Amazon DynamoDB, and AWS Lambda to reduce the go-to-market (GTM) time and lower the cost of IT.

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Figure 2 – Cognizant Connected Places architecture on AWS.

Edge Connectivity and Analytics with AWS IoT Greengrass

Connected Places leverages AWS IoT Greengrass for data acquisition, edge analytics, and in keeping device data in sync with the cloud securely. AWS IoT Greengrass helps in filtering the device data and only transmits necessary information back to the cloud, saving the network bandwidth.

AWS IoT Greengrass aggregates, converts and regulates data from distinct protocols used by the various building management systems in the facility. The containerized packages developed at the edge help support the various protocols, and can also be remotely managed from the cloud.

AWS IoT Device Management

The edge gateway provides easy onboarding of new systems, endpoints, and facilities making the Connected Places offering a plug-and-play solution. The number of edge gateways is determined by the number of end points and devices required to be onboarded in the facility.

Scalable Data Ingestion with Amazon Kinesis

With buildings continually talking to us, the high rate of data ingestion is enabled by Amazon Kinesis, which processes and analyzes data in real-time at scale, providing timely insights such as alerts when thresholds are breached. With the help of Shards, Kinesis provides Connected Places with the capability of processing building asset and sensor data in parallel.

The serverless architecture of AWS Lambda helps run the code without requiring to manage servers. Lambda allows Connected Places to automatically scale based on the workload, and helps in efficient utilization of compute resources. Together, Lambda and Kinesis enable an event-driven architecture that lets services automatically perform work in response to events triggered by publisher services.

Predictive Intelligence Through Machine Learning

Powered by Amazon Sagemaker, Connected Places builds, trains, and deploys machine learning (ML) models for environment condition, asset maintenance, and energy management. Amazon Sagemaker offers a diverse set of algorithms and models to train and deploy in a simplified manner, per the contextual requirements of a facility.

Connected Places intelligently optimizes HVAC operating schedules and regulates the environmental conditions based on occupancy data, time of the day, and user preferences. Maintenance schedules of assets are redrawn based on usage, eliminating unwarranted planned maintenance of assets.

Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) allows Connected Places to run microservices for energy management, space utilization, operational efficiency, and more, in containerized Dockers. This provides the solution with the capability to extend easily, which helps accommodate new facility use cases and modules without concerns for the underlying infrastructure.

Connected Places leverages Amazon API Gateway to expose and interface all of the microservices APIs with downstream and upstream systems, such as BMS, solar management systems, and asset management.

The dynamic dashboards presenting intelligent insights are hosted on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which along with Amazon CloudFront lets Connected Places deliver static content faster while offering better scalability.

Business Intelligence with Amazon QuickSight

Amazon QuickSight enables the business build visualizations, performs ad-hoc analysis, and quickly gets business insights from the building data.

QuickSight is a fast, business intelligence service that makes it easy to deliver insights to everyone in an organization. As a fully managed service, QuickSight lets you easily create and publish interactive dashboards that include ML Insights. Dashboards can be accessed from any device, and embedded into your applications, portals, and websites.

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Results

Digital connectivity touches almost every aspect of our lives, and the connected facility is the future for COOs, building managers, owners, lessors, and tenants. Facilities management presents compelling opportunities to improve operational performance—with efficiency gains, energy cost-savings, and improved environmental conditions for workers and customers.

To be the change we wish to see, Cognizant piloted the Connected Places solution in one of our own facilities supporting 17,000 associates per day. The solution has realized energy savings of 17 percent from automated lighting control, and 12 percent from optimized air handling unit (AHU) operations, annually.

Connected Places is also helping a large insurance provider connect their insured commercial buildings by aggregating building data in real-time using AWS. The smart solution generates alerts based on 20 complex business patterns, and allows the customer to take preventative actions that contribute to reducing the number of claims.

Using Connected Places, our customer can now monitor the status of their buildings periodically, assess risks, and design insurance premium plans accordingly based on real-time condition and maintenance parameters. The solution enabled:

  • Advanced risk selection without site visits.
  • Early loss detection and prevention.
  • Usage-based pricing, rewarding well-managed buildings.
  • Sophisticated pricing techniques that leverage building data throughout the policy lifecycle.
  • Reduced claims in commercial building insurance.

Conclusion

Leveraging digital technologies, Connected Places is empowering businesses and facility managers to provide enhanced occupant comfort, achieve greater efficiencies, and create high-performance buildings that minimize the carbon footprint.

To learn how Cognizant is transforming the modern enterprise, check out our Enterprise IoT Solutions.

The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

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Cognizant is an APN Premier Consulting Partner. They transform customers’ business, operating, and technology models for the digital era by helping organizations envision, build, and run more innovative and efficient businesses.

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