Australia boasts the longest geographically connected electricity market in the world; a market worth $11.7 billion.
But power is becoming increasingly expensive – household electricity bills jumped 61 per cent in the four years leading up to 2013, way ahead of the 10.4 per cent increase in the consumer price index. The cost to business has also soared by as much as 50 per cent in recent years and further increases are predicted.
The cloud based Buddy Ohm however promises to put the power back into the hands of users.
It uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, Microsoft Azure and Power BI to generate easily accessible dashboards delivering users instant actionable insights about power use.
Described by the ASX-listed independent software vendor (ISV) Buddy Platform Ltd as a “Fitbit for buildings” Buddy Ohm was launched in March. The monthly subscription service includes hardware costs and strives to pay for itself through reduced utilities bills in the first year of operation while delivering a reduced environmental footprint.
Brian Seitz, Buddy’s vice president of marketing and communications, explains that given the high price of electricity in Australia; “Every dollar we help save is important” and the savings have the potential to be invested back into the business.
The design of the system also democratises access to the power usage information. “If you are a building manager, there is only so much optimisation you can deliver before you need to get help from the people in your building. If they aren’t connected in a real way to the health of the building, they are never going to feel an obligation or duty to be part of the solution,” said Seitz.
By sharing energy usage information Buddy Ohm spurs everyone into action to keep costs in check and rein in environmental impacts associated with excess energy use.
Buddy Ohm can be utilised across a broad range of organisations with goals to reduce energy costs, including Commercial building operators, shopping centres, manufacturing plants, education facilities, Federal, State and local governments and residential apartment buildings.
While the market for the technology is ultimately global, Buddy is currently focussed on marketing its solution to businesses and smart cities across Australia and North America.
The geographical reach, hyper scale and trusted nature of Azure have already been critical said Seitz. “The flexibility with Azure to run instances of services in different geographies so that data collected from devices can stay in country has been a huge benefit for us when talking with customers.
“At the moment we are targeted on North America and Australia, but talking to customers all over world. If we can’t keep their data safe and secure and conform to data sovereignty regulations then it would be a no go.
Buddy Ohm is currently focussed on building energy management and smart city applications but in the future the company says its design and Azure’s flexibility and security means that it could be deployed in broad array of other situations including industry and consumer.
According to Seitz; “The core infrastructure and heart of product doesn’t care what devices and systems it is connected to on the either side of cloud. It can take information from any device as long as it is connected to the internet, then collect it, store it, normalise it and send it along for visualisation on our Ohm View dashboards.
“At its core it’s a Fitbit for your building. It’s measuring resources in and out, displaying that in an engaging and intuitive way and empowering tenants to act on that information in a smart way to help save money and lessen their impact on the environment.”
Presently Buddy Ohm can monitor energy, gas, water, steam and solar use, but in the future additional sensors could be integrated for example to track occupancy and then correlate the temperature and lighting, and potentially, down the track, use that information to automate a response.
And when it comes to Smart Cities; “I see a world where Buddy Ohm monitors a variety of systems in a city to help city leaders make more decisions based on real-time data, helping cities become more efficient, secure and more liveable,” said Seitz.
Its Microsoft Azure foundations are key to the extensive potential for the Buddy solution, which also uses Power BI to deliver the actionable insights. In the future Seitz said that the company could leverage even more Azure services to deliver even more granular and intelligent insights about how buildings were operating.
Being able to rely on Microsoft to deliver the underlying power for the platform means that Buddy has also been able to extend its marketing reach, allowing it to work with telecommunications, cable and electrical contractor partners to sell and deploy the solution knowing that the IT smarts Buddy Ohm relies on are delivered by a giant like Microsoft.
“We are very focused on doing everything we can to help partners be successful and have more impact with customers whatever partner that is,” said Seitz.
If you’re a software company like Buddy, learn more about partnering with Microsoft at the Microsoft App Accelerate portal: www.microsoft.com.au/app-accelerate