The National University of Singapore (NUS) and smart buildings company Johnson Controls have announced a joint collaboration on smart buildings research.
As part of the agreement, Johnson Controls will commit about S$5 million ($3.7 million) into the research program.
“This collaboration between NUS and Johnson Controls will combine the University’s expertise in the science of cities and sustainability with Johnson Controls’ industry knowledge to co-create people-centric smart building systems to bring about impactful and radical changes to the lives of people in Singapore and the world,” said Chen Tsuhan, NUS deputy president for research and technology.
The NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE) will kick off with the first research project in April. The research will use machine learning to accelerate the conversion of Internet of Things (IoT) data into the BRICK Schema, a standardizing model for data labels in buildings. This open-source schema describes smart buildings and their subsystems in a format that enables software to more easily and quickly connect into a larger number of buildings. With the establishment of a consistent schema across buildings, the industry is better able to understand metadata usage across all building types, to improve overall wellness for its users, Johnson Controls said.
“Our research collaboration with Johnson Controls will contribute to the built environment sector’s need for rapid digitalisation and enhanced collaboration across the entire industry value chain,” said Lam Khee Poh, NUS SDE dean.
The research team intends to set up a machine-learning competition to crowdsource solutions to find the most accurate approach to converting each building’s existing labeling methods into the BRICK schema.
The research will leverage the Johnson Controls OpenBlue Innovation Center housed at SDE, which was launched in September 2020. It will focus primarily on the four SDE buildings, with the possibility to expand the scope to include other buildings across the NUS campus.
Together with its ecosystem of partners — which includes NUS and Microsoft — the innovation center is implementing a common configuration language that bridges core building technology, as well as behavioral, wellness and spatial data to develop solutions that meet new demands for safety and sustainability in connected spaces, Johnson Controls said.
“NUS is an important partner in our journey to transform the urban built environment, especially with the focus of ‘build back better’ in the recovery from the long pandemic. Tapping on the talents from both sides to research on artificial intelligence, sustainability as well as smart experience and wellness, we can innovate and scale from this NUS living laboratory. Singapore’s larger regulatory environment is also conducive for adoption of technologies to ensure our built environment is healthier and more sustainable,” said Alvin Ng, VP of digital solutions, Asia Pacific, at Johnson Controls.