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IoT platform takes apartments into the cloud in Stockholm

Swedish property management company Stockrose is using IoT the Azure cloud to offer its clients 'buildings as a service."

Swedish property management company Stockrose is using the internet of things (IoT) in the cloud to provide real-time data on water, heating and electricity consumption for tenants and their landlords.

Across the European Union (EU), a push to improve energy efficiency of buildings is opening doors for new ‘smart building’ ventures.

“The [energy efficiency] market today is extremely fragmented,” Richard Lind, CEO of Stockrose, told Computer Weekly.

“There are a lot of small players that just do individual point measurements, some do electricity, some heating, and no one really does water. But nobody was doing it as a service.”

This is what Stockrose aims to offer with its buildings-as-a-service concept, which is mainly targeted towards owners of large apartment buildings and municipalities. The platform uses a hybrid of on-premises and cloud infrastructure, built on Microsoft’s Azure IoT suite, to collect and process sensor data on individual apartments and buildings’ resource usage.

Building owners get access to detailed data on their properties without large infrastructure investment, while tenants can monitor their consumption through a smartphone app and only pay for what they consume.

According to Lind, the theory is that more detailed information on consumption leads to more efficient energy use and curbs emissions as it is easy to track the cost implications of even small changes.

So far, Stockrose has tested this approach, which it has developed in collaboration with Danish software firm Eniga, with beta customers covering approximately 12,000 apartments.

The two companies started by tracking hot water usage and claim Stockrose’s property owner clients alone could save $42m in hot water costs within 10 years by motivating shorter showers and fewer baths.

Sensor challenge

The biggest challenge for the service is the number of physical sensors required. Lind said each apartment needs at least five active sensors to provide enough data, but Stockrose is solving this by making the platform compatible with existing sensors from various suppliers. The platform connects the sensors to IoT gateway devices running on-premises which transfer the data to the cloud.

“We are sensor agnostic, we can connect up Schneider, Siemens, whichever [sensor]. We are also totally network protocol agnostic,” said Lind.

“We are not trying to lock customers in a proprietary fashion, on the contrary we try to free them from current proprietary systems.”

There is plenty of existing infrastructure to work with as 99% of all electricity meters in Sweden were replaced with smart meters back in 2009. But in many cases, water- and heating-related sensors still need to be installed by Stockrose.

In addition to tracking resource consumption, Lind said the platform can be integrated with property owners’ existing incident management and service provisioning systems.

This provides a comprehensive view on building management through a single service. It can also be used to detect water leaks and, in the future, measure things such as snowpack on roofs to help avoid costly damages.

Stockrose has now launched the service in Sweden and expects to cover more than 75,000 apartments across the country by the end of 2017. ... ... ...

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