Swiss scientists have developed a system for an all-encompassing smart building to collect data on people's energy usage, and then send the data to a smart electric grid to allocate resources optimally, according to Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) on Monday.
The basic idea is that by gathering data sent from connected devices, like smart phones and the sensors in electronic appliances, the system can obtain an overall picture of a building's electricity needs over time and by room.
The data can then be passed on to a smart grid in order to anticipate energy needs and decide how best to allocate available resources.
Though buildings already have systems that can collect data from certain devices, the interfaces all work separately and cannot be used to gain any precise, overarching insight into the electricity needs of an entire building or to optimize resource allocation.
These devices also have totally unrelated applications, with one perhaps being used to increase safety while another may control heating, for example.
The EPFL system, otherwise, is capable of collecting data from any sensor.
"Our solution must be compatible with various technologies so that it can be connected to any device. That way, the building and the grid's energy needs can be managed smoothly regardless of the devices in place," says George Lilis, who worked on the interface as part of his Ph.D.
This interface is very flexible and ensures the best possible data protection, meaning it can be integrated into any type of building. The program was designed to be as generic as possible, and the computer code used is open source.
The data collected then have to be sent to and processed by the electric grid so that it can allocate resources appropriately.
"By looking at grid signals or available local output, we can adjust the load at certain times. An apartment could, for instance, be heated a few minutes earlier if the electricity is cheaper at that time or if that will curtail a peak in usage," says Olivier Van Cutsem, a doctoral student from the team.
Creating this comprehensive system requires a cross-disciplinary approach with input from researchers in various fields. Some laboratories, for example, are working on the smart grid, while others are focusing on data protection and comfort.
The researchers' findings have been published in the journal Elsevier Automation in Construction.