The OptEEmAL platform prototype is ready to be tested by the demonstration sites!

10.07.2018 – Our platform prototype was successfully presented at our 2nd Review Meeting in Brussels in April. Putting together all the modules of the platform has been challenging, but we have now done it and want to share some insights with you on how the prototype is working. Serhat from ARGEDOR and Marco from EXPERT SYSTEM will answer a few questions to shed light on how our partners build this innovative tool and all the great work behind platform. The next steps will be to have our demo site partners DTTN, FSS and LUND test the platform under real environment conditions. We are excited!


How is the OptEEmAL platform put together and how does the platform prototype work?

To begin with, we can consider the web portal of the OptEEmAL as the front face of the platform, where the users interact with the platform services working on the platform’s servers. Users upload the necessary files and answer a few questionnaires regarding their districts, which helps to determine the optimization parameters. Then, the optimization process starts on the servers, working on discovering the best retrofitting scenarios based on the user’s needs. Finally, the best results are shown to the user along with their details. They may select any of these optimized solutions and download the files detailing the necessary changes and calculation results. This is a short overview of how the platform works.

Select Opt Scenario

On the other hand, there are several software components working at the backend for the realization of such an innovative platform. Other than the user interfaces, there are components that store and manipulate data, perform energy simulations and optimization. Every technical partner in the consortium has their own fields of expertise and develops the related software components. These components communicate with each other using the Enterprise Service Bus technology to provide a one-stop district-level energy efficiency optimization experience to all platform users.

What is your contribution to the platform development?

Argedor is the main developer of the Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) of OptEEmAL. We have designed and developed the platform’s web portal, which is where all the user interactions, including data input and visualization happen. Our aim has been about creating a user-friendly interface, which is easy and intuitive to use, e.g. when selecting from the various prioritisation criteria or energy conservation measures (ECMs) as you can see below.

Prio Criteria

 Check Strategies

What are the main challenges when designing the graphical user interfaces and how does the integration with the other parts of the platform work?

Designing the user interfaces mainly consists of two types of work: Functional and graphical design. Functional design is about which data to share with the platform users and how to establish the data transfer between the user and the platform backend. Graphical design, which includes user experience design, on the other hand, is about how to present the data to the user, i.e. mostly about aesthetics and ease of use.

The main challenge in the process was the functional design of the user interfaces, partly because it depended heavily on the design of the platform backend. We had to determine which data would be needed for the optimization of district level retrofitting projects that utilize the Integrated Project Delivery approach. It took a couple of design iterations to determine the current data requirements and software components of the platform backend. Much the same applied to the graphical user interfaces: a couple of iterations had to be performed to reach the latest design and development level, based on the maturity of the platform backend. Finally, all integration with the platform backend was achieved using software development with REST architecture.

How are all the parts of the platform prototype connected, especially from the input of the data (by the user) and the output of scenarios by the platform?

Expert System has collaborated in the design of the platform, especially in the definition of the data repositories, e.g. the data insertion module, the data exportation module and their dependencies with other modules – also as part of the interaction between the user and the platform. To cope with the asynchrony among various modules, the OptEEmAL platform now uses API Web Services and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) architecture capable of managing various environments and enabling the data exchange between a series of modules deployed in physically and logically different environments. The request for data from each module, for example, is always managed through the data insertion module which will forward the proper request to the various connectors around the platform. The API’s exposed are all secured and connected to the platform’s user management. They are organized in separated services (connectors) to keep a logical order by functionality.

These features grant that, during time-consuming processes where large amounts of building and contextual data have to be processed, the Platform will be available for the users with updates on the progress of the calculations through mail or messages displayed in the GUI messaging system.

Another challenge for the platform is the input of unstructured data by the demo sites and users. Expert System has also been working on integrating a technology that will allow the OptEEmAL platform to understand and semantically process the meanings of written words and fetch information relevant to the user’s project (news or other relevant information).

The all-in-one optimisation solution

OptEEmAL is an all-in-one optimization solution and a frontier research project in the field of web and cloud-based district-level retrofitting, which brings together several software solutions that generally do not speak the others’ language. While working on getting them together, we aimed at relieving users as much as possible from the preparation work. In doing so, there are a couple guidelines that we require the users to follow for the proper execution and use of the platform.

Have the recent months changed your view on the impact of the OptEEmAL project?

Absolutely! The last couple of months were spent on putting the components of the platform together, after which we could see everything running in one place. Prior to that, it was like working on developing the parts and pieces of a lunar rocket; you see beautiful pieces, yet separate. When combined and ignited, seeing it lift off is immensely exciting.

What elements of the platform may need to be further developed?

Well, there is still room for improvement with regards to the graphical interfaces, along with a couple of connections and optimizations in the backend. But overall, we have demonstrated that the OptEEmAL platform is working and able to make energy efficient retrofitting so much easier for various stakeholders. Stay tuned for further developments!

Thank you very much for your answers!

 

About ARGEDOR:

ARGEDOR provides innovative information processing and visualisation solutions for information available worldwide through high technology products and research and development projects to companies and end users. These products are based on geospatial information, e.g. providing 3D realistic and abstract representations of the urban environment paired with the capabilities to easily interact with massive information layers and analysis.

Geospatial urban planning and visualisation is a complex and important issue in 3D city modelling applications. ARGEDOR provides visualisation and decision-making frameworks for the urban design and solutions based on 3D virtual environments, and the innovation and integration of sensor data.

ARGEDOR’s main contributions to the OptEEmAL project encompass the deployment of the Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) for the platform. These services will allow the user to feed the needed data into the platform, visualise different alternatives of retrofitting scenarios (including 2D and 3D visualisation of districts and data in several fields such as energy, comfort parameters, etc.) and finally to export the data generated within the platform. ARGEDOR has grown to become one of the largest businesses in the field of geospatial applications by providing 3D geospatial urban planning development, visualisation in Smart Cities & Communities and energy efficiency in Turkey. ARGEDOR will continue to provide its expertise in visualisation, 3D planning, smart big data, and data analysis to the OptEEmAL project by further developing innovative visualisation toolsets and geospatial business intelligence toolsets.

Contact details:

ARGEDOR Information Technologies Ltd.
Üniversiteler Mahallesi ?hsan Do?ramac? Bulvar?
ODTÜ Teknokent Gümü? Blok No: K1-2
Ankara
41123 Modena, ITALY
http://www.argedor.com/en/

Serhat Bay?l?
serhat.bayili@argedor.com | Phone: + 90 312 210 13 40

About EXPERT SYSTEM

Expert System is a global company with offices in Europe and North America that develops cognitive computing software, based on artificial intelligence algorithms able to understand the meaning of written language the way people do. We offer government organizations and businesses in any sector solutions for finding, understanding and using information more effectively to enhance insight, make better informed decisions, automate information intensive processes and mitigate operational risks. We believe that understanding the meaning of each word in context (for any quantity of collected knowledge can now become collective knowledge when enriched by Expert System documents) is the best way to identify and use the knowledge required for success in any field. Legacy technologies treat text only as sequence of characters (keywords) or through an approach based on statistics. They don’t understand its meaning. We do. Cogito, our software, is based on artificial intelligence algorithms that simulate the human ability to read and understand language. Patented, award-winning and multilingual, Cogito is a cognitive computing software that applies semantic and natural language search, tagging and automatic categorization.

Expert System’s main contribution to the OptEEmAL project is the development of most of the repositories published by the platform as well as their expertise in integration. The core technologies behind these commitments are Web Services (API) and Enterprise Serial Bus (ESB), two components that permit the data exchange between a series of modules deployed in both physically and logically different environments. The usage of technologies like ESB opened a new world within the integration of environments and OptEEmAL is a real example of the reachable results. Controlling asynchronous and remote processes through the usage of queues and building an integration framework form a scratch has been a challenging mission and Expert System has been able to add this new important skill to their expertise.

Contact details:

Expert System S.p.A.
Via Virgilio, 48/H
Staircase 5
41123 Modena
ITALY
www.expertsystem.com

Marco Baldaccini
mbaldaccini@expertsystem.com | Phone: + 39 059 894011