Project Haystack Member Interview – SkyFoundry

Showcasing what the Project Haystack community is doing

Project Haystack Member Interview – SkyFoundry

Project Haystack Member Interview – SkyFoundry

Interview with John Petze, Co-Founder and Partner, SkyFoundry

What is your involvement in Project Haystack?

As one of the Founding Members, SkyFoundry has been involved with Project Haystack from its inception in March 2011. Our work at SkyFoundry focusing on analytics for the built environment highlighted a critical need for a standardized approach for meta data to describe the data generated by equipment systems and smart devices. Initial conversations with industry participants resulted in the launch of as an open source, community-driven initiative, and publication of the first generation of the Haystack standard, which was a consensus driven vocabulary of tags to be applied to equipment systems and their data. 

How do you apply/use Haystack Tagging?

Haystack is the foundational data modelling approach utilized by our SkySpark software. SkySpark is designed to take in multi-structured data from diverse systems and devices and normalize it into a unified format for presentation, analytics and to deliver that data to other applications. The comprehensive implementation of Haystack throughout SkySpark makes this possible. 

What challenges has Haystack helped you meet?

The reality is that most operational data produced by existing devices and equipment systems has poor semantic modelling - that means that a manual, labor-intensive process is required to add descriptive information to the data before value creation can begin. And with the explosion of new IoT sensors and devices we often find that there is no commonality in the way they provide data. Because SkySpark is used to bring together diverse data from a wide range of systems for analytics and fault detection, the normalization or “contextualization” of that data is a fundamental need, which we have chosen to address with a standard that is open to all.

What savings has using Haystack provided to you/your customers?

The process of applying analytics and other similar software applications requires that data have some level of semantic modelling to describe its meaning and its relationship to equipment and devices. Utilizing the Haystack standard means that the “data-description” effort is done once and thereafter the data can be used by other applications with minimal additional effort. This applies to adding new analytics rules and algorithms in our SkySpark software or enabling SkySpark to act as an “Independent Data Layer” to deliver that fully described data to other external applications. Implementing Haystack dramatically reduces the costs associated with analysing, visualizing, and deriving value from operational data. 

What is your involvement in the wider Project Haystack community?

SkyFoundry’s involvement started with the initial launch of the effort in 2011. At that time, we donated all of the work we had developed as a starting point for a standard meta data methodology including the initial vocabulary of tags. We recruited participants from around the world to join the effort. As the community developed, we helped established a formal 501C non-profit trade association and were initial members of the Board of Directors. We remain as a Board member and an active contributor to the continued advancement of the technology through participation in Working Groups, as well as educational and marketing efforts to drive awareness. SkyFoundry also contributes open-source tools that make it easier to implement Haystack in projects and products. One of the most recent contributions was the announcement of the project. Through Haxall, SkyFoundry has open-sourced proven software components that streamline development and reduce the cost of creating IoT devices for the built environment (BIoT). Haxall provides a full suite of Haystack APIs to model, encode, and query data using the Haystack 4 ontology. We believe this will directly help to accelerate the transition to data-driven, intelligent buildings. More information on the open-source Haxall initiative can be found at this link:

What are your hopes for the future of Project Haystack?

The last decade has proven that a meta data standard is critical to the adoption of the IoT and smart building technologies. Haystack has proven is leadership both in technology, community participation and adoption in thousands of real-world projects. Just as the IoT is still growing and advancing and maturing, however, the work of the Haystack organization will continue. We see this in new Working Groups addressing applications like EV Charging, Variable Refrigeration Systems, GhG and Carbon reporting and others. And we see a strong desire by the marketplace for a single unified standard that brings together related efforts that have been initiated by other organizations tackling the need for meta data standards. Haystack continues to promote collaboration and unification of these efforts. Only by working together will we collectively achieve the future vision of “data that just works” across all systems and applications.

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