Sensors Create Smart Campus for Microsoft

"Give me a little data and I’ll tell you a little. Give me a lot of data and I’ll save the world," says Darrell Smith, who heads Facilities and Energy for Microsoft.

To transform Microsoft’s buildings into a cohesive "smart campus," Smith was among those who realized some 30,000 sensors had been installed by various vendors over the years – it would cost about $60 million just to "rip and replace" enough equipment to get them to work together.

That was far too disruptive so a small team of engineers created their own data-driven software, which has been so successful that they are helping building managers around the world deploy the same solution, says the company’s blog. 

The team’s software strings together thousands of incongruent building sensors, and by unifying them they’ve gotten access to reams of data that track all building functions, from lights to motors.

Just part of huge wall of sensors:

Microsoft building sensors

Becoming hyper-aware of how buildings perform has led to far more intelligent decision-making, they say, resulting in significant energy savings and maintenance costs.

No more visiting buildings to do tune-ups, now everything is data driven and problems are fixed instantly and remotely. With a few clicks of a mouse engineers can often fix a stuck damper or leaky valve – even the smallest issues get detected.

About 42,000 people work in the 125 buildings on Microsoft’s 500-acre corporate campus, so this is not a small feat.

Every day, 500 million points of data stream in, presenting  engineers with prioritized lists of equipment that need attention. Almost half the issues can be fixed in a minute or so, says Smith.

"We’re seeing efficiencies that we never even contemplated when we started this journey. Smart buildings will become smart cities and smart cities will change everything,"
says Smith.

Sensors are viewed as a core ingredient in "living buildings" of the future and a smart grid.  

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