Back in December 2019, the Zigbee Alliance set out to create a unifying standard for the smart-home industry. Project Connected Home over IP is a Working Group within the Zigbee Alliance, which develops and promotes the adoption of a new connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart-home products. Now, it is announcing a team dedicated to the development and promotion of the standard for commercial markets—and it couldn’t come a moment too soon.

For those of you who might not know, the Zigbee Alliance is an umbrella of open-ended interoperable solutions, with the mission to help smart products connect and interact with each other to fuel IoT (Internet of Things) possibilities. The goals are anchored in the principles of open and interoperability.

The recently formed Commercial Strategy Group includes global commercial solutions leaders from various industries and geographies and continues to chart next steps to converge on IP-based connectivity within buildings and facilities.

As we have talked about here and over on Constructech, the commercial market has several nuisances. Chiefly, many players in the commercial market tend to operate in silos. I recently chatted with Zigbee Alliance Board member Mak Joshi, global director, strategy, innovation, and standards, Schneider Electric, about this very trend, and as he says to me, “The commercial environment really screams for interoperability.”

Here the specification will need to cater to the needs of various people in the commercial value chain including installers, facility managers, OEMs (original-equipment manufacturers), owners, system integrator, and more.

“We are looking forward to building a specification that allows us to build this agnostic application layer protocol that can target, let’s say many of these silos from applications through that protocol,” says Joshi. “So the timing is right. The complexity is calling for something like that.”

Now, the Commercial Strategy Group within Project Connected Home over IP, which is a global effort, aims to find diversity inside a commercial building including diverse control and monitoring applications, such as elevators, water, delivery and monitoring of energy, control of lighting, and control and delivery of heating and air conditioning. To ensure commercial implementers can make the best use of the initiative, to date more than 50 industry leaders around the world with commercial-focused solutions have aligned.

The group aims to clarify the commercial use cases, define the new features required for additional commercial use cases, facilitate conversation and collaboration among members to strengthen use of adoption of IP-based connectivity standards, and advocate and encourage others to join and contribute.

In my conversation with Joshi, I challenged him on the rate of development on something like this because, to be candid, if we want to get back into buildings soon, we need quick progress. And he agreed, saying, it is aggressive, and “the strength of this effort is the best-in-class minds and the backing of very large ecosystems that are very much interested in seeing a convergence on the IP-based protocol.”

Another factor coming into play here is the drive toward circularity and sustainability, and he suggests the technology will support as an enabler here as well. “The circularity aspect is important for the alliance as well as for all the member companies, small and large.”

It’s time to gear up for big change. Here’s to the year ahead and seeing momentum like we have never seen before.

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