Real-time data collection

Building management systems monitoring

What is a Building Management System (BMS)?

A Building Management System (BMS) is a centralised computer controlled monitoring system for the a building or facility.

BMSs vary in size and complication; some are large interconnected systems that have been purposely installed at a buildings design stage and at the other end of the scale they may be small panels connecting a few critical systems together, these are usually installed retrospectively.

Both typically include sensors, pressure switches, flow meters, controllers, and relays.

The core functions of a BMS is typically to control and monitor utility equipment across an organisations enterprise such as:

  • Lighting
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Fire alarm panels
  • Fire hydrant systems
  • Smoke detection
  • ICT (Information Communications and Telecoms)
  • Water tank monitoring
  • Elevator operations
  • Door entry and security systems

Energy monitoring

A BMS may also be used to monitor and control power distribution, energy consumption and uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) and may be referred to as building energy management systems (BEMS).

These types of installation are useful in understanding the power consumption and therefore the costs associated with providing certain services to an organisation either as a whole or by department.

Spook is an approved Endorser of the European Code of Conduct for Data Centres

The Data Centres Energy Efficiency Code of Conduct has been established in response to increasing energy consumption in data centres and the need to reduce the related environmental, economic and energy supply security impacts.

The aim is to inform and stimulate data centre operators and owners to reduce energy consumption in a cost-effective manner without hampering the mission critical function of data centres.

The Code of Conduct aims to achieve this by improving understanding of energy demand within the data centre, raising awareness, and recommending energy efficient best practice and targets.


Historically, BMSs have been associated with commercial buildings and delivered the ability to create reports, automate equipment and track the achievement of departmental KPI's (Key Performance Indicators). However, as modern equipment has evolved it has become easier to control and much cheaper to install.

Monitoring and detection continues to become less expensive, and sensors have become intelligent in their own right.

Wireless technology is now available making installation of sensors easy, flexible and cost effective. Most sensors are now designed for the IoT (Internet of Things) making them ideal for buildings of all sizes.

What seemed complex a few years ago has now become expected as standard and many sensors can be controlled remotely; for example staff are able to connect to their equipment and manage devices such as lighting and heating automatically or via an internet connected device.

BMS can help:

  • Control systems and conditions.
  • Store sensor and equipment readings for measuring and reporting.
  • Increase productivity either by automation of processes or simply making working conditions optimal for employees.
  • Create a better informed response to complaints, often turning a negative situation into a positive one by understanding the route of the issue.
  • Provide allocation of operating costs within an organisation or department.
  • Allow more targeted use of resources together with ensuring preventative maintenance programs can be met.
  • Detect issues early hence prevent them becoming bigger problems that could cause down-time.
  • Reduce operating costs and carbon emissions.
  • Improve the longevity of equipment.
  • Protect warranties and manufacturer equipment replacements.

Pros and cons of building management systems

Building management has seen an increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and green building initiatives. BMS help building or facility managers achieve standards and provide evidential support for legislation and KPI's.

At the same time, IT integration and the increasing use of analytics and actionable data has led to BMS being placed at the heart of building design strategy.

There are many positives and negatives to using a BMS but here are perhaps the top four:

Positives Negatives
Provides energy savings Expensive to install and use
Increases security and safety Limited value from point of installation
Increases convenience and flexibility Excludes small equipment or new technology
Reduces operating costs Lacks scaleability

Why use OmniWatch to monitor a BMS system?

OmniWatch is not designed to replace a BMS although OmniWatch does achieve the majority of monitoring a BMS system can do with small modern sensors either providing monitoring in their own right or by connecting to third party equipment to provide operating condition status changes.

Pinch point

Within an organisation there are usually many different types of third party equipment installed on the network and linked to their BMS, all with their own methods of control and management. Even similar equipment from the same manufacturer can vary in operation for example modern alternatives to legacy kit may have a completely different interface or even protocol.

It is not unusual for new hardware and systems to be installed that can not be monitored by a BMS simply because the methods of management of new devices were not around at the time of installing the BMS.

Hardware and protocol independent

OmniWatch is designed to work with many different equipment types, manufacturers and protocols. This includes monitoring BMS to provide an easy to use, joined up solution for managing alerts, creating reports and providing an excellent platform to measure, analyse and control matters.


As with everything, things that were modern or state of the art a few years ago can quickly become outdated, cumbersome or even clunky over time. In Spook's experience organisations that have invested in BMS often need to supplement their systems with modern sensors and devices.

Get in touch with Spook

Please contact us if you wish for further information on how Spook can help with your environmental and power monitoring needs.

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