Terminology used throughout our website and documentation


The process by which data is analysed by software algorithms rather than human expertise. Analytics generally falls into two categories; automatic fault detection and performance analysis. Most analytics in the building automation market can be achieved using rules based algorithms, which are adequate for most for the required data processing, although machine learning and AI approaches are beginning to be used by a few vendors. 


This is the acronym for Application Program Interface, which is the term used to describe as a set of "hooks" used in a software application's code to enable a standardised way of interfacing it with another application. For an API to be easily used by third party organisations it needs to be well documented, so it is important to check the quality of the API documentation.


This is the most commonly used network communications protocol used in building automation systems globally. It was developed by ASHRAE to enable different manufacturers' products to be used together by defining how they communicate. Compliance with the standard is managed by the BTL (Bacnet Technology Laboratories) certification process. There are various categories of products that cover all the major product groups from field controllers to management software. 


The acronym for Building Automation System


The acronym for Building Energy Management System


The acronym for Building Management System

Building Automation

This term is a generic way of speaking about the systems used in buildings for the monitoring and control of the main services, including HVAC lighting, shading, security and fire detection systems.

BUILDING Control System

Any microprocessor device that can control the HVAC, lighting and or shading in a building by reading various sensor inputs and switching/modulating the actuators to control the equipment, using custom control logic which is usually configured specially for each project. Can refer to a single controller for a small building but usually refers to multiple controllers that are networked together via serial or IP network(s).

BUILDING Management System

Frequently abbreviated to BMS, this term is used to describe computerised control systems used in buildings for the monitoring and control of the main HVAC services, and can also refer to the management of lighting, shading, security and fire detection systems if these are integrated with the HVAC control system. 


Frequently abbreviated to BEMS, this term is used similarly to Building Management System,  but the word Energy denotes that the system includes functionality to monitor energy usage via multiple connected meters and is configured to optimise energy performance rather than just control the environmental conditions in the building(s).

BUILDING Management Software

This is a generic way of referring to the software used to monitor and control the main services in a building, principally the  HVAC equipment, but sometimes also including lighting, shading, security and fire detection systems.

BUILDING Systems InteGration

This term is used to describe the topic of how the various monitoring and control systems in buildings can be integrated; that is made to exchange data and work together in a coordinated way. Such integration has historically been achieved via protocol conversion gateways that enable otherwise incompatible systems to to exchange data, but more recently the use of open protocol standards has avoided the need for such gateway products, and the use of open framework software such as the Niagara Framework or FIN Framework has enabled integration of multiple different protocols simultaneously, just using software without requiring separate hardware devices. 

Cloud Services

This is a generic way to refer to software applications running on servers located in data centers run by specialist providers such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon that provides one or more services , in the form of data processing and analysis to imporve the way oin which organisations operate. Typically charged for on a monthly basis, such a applications are described as using a "Software as a Service" (SaaS) model.


Data modeling is the process of creating a data model for the data that is stored in a database. This data model is a conceptual representation of data objects, the associations between different data objects and the the rules that govern those relationships.


Typically this refers to either a sensor, actuator or controller used as part of a building automation system. Typically such devices are now network connected or directly wired to another device. Increasingly, many sensing devices can be wirelessly connected. 


This is an abbreviation  of Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning. 

IoT - Internet of Things

This is an umbrella term that has become a popular way to talking about the ways in which computerised devices are increasingly able to share data with one another and connect to the internet "cloud". IoT encompasses the use of wireless technologies to simplify the deployment of sensing devices that collect data within buildings and send this to software hosted on cloud servers which generally provides useful management information and/or undertakes automated analysis of the data. IoT is also used to refer to any data that is being communicated via IP networks to the cloud.

Machine Learning

This is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it learn for themselves. Machine learning algorithms build a mathematical model based on sample data, known as "training data", in order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task.


The term used to describe information relating to an item of data which provides its context - in the case of BAS related data the metadata is generally the source of a real-time data point i.e. which device generates it as well as its location, plus its relationship with one or more items of equipment.

Open Framework

Commonly used in the IT domain, this term refers to software which is designed in a generic way to handle multiple protocols and has APIs that enable third party developers to create applications on top of the framework. 

Project Haystack

This is the name of an open-source initiative that seeks to standardize the way in which metadata relating to building automation systems is defined. See  the Project Haystack website for more details.


This term is a generic way of speaking about the way in which the various computerised systems used in buildings for the monitoring and control of the main services, including HVAC lighting, shading, security and fire detection systems can be configured to make the building behave in a more "intelligent" way, responding dynamically to occupants requests and requirements. It is an umbrella term encompassing multiple technologies and software applications.


This is another term for metadata, since one assigns "tags" to a data point in order to define its context and relationship(s). It is a helpful term as one can easily imagine the data as a suitcase with multiple luggage tags defining where it has come from, what it contains and where it is going.