What is a dashboard for?

Thunderbird Dashboard
Thunderbird Dashboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What should an energy dashboard show?

It really depends on what it's for, and a lot of people forget that all important detail !  So too many people pay to see a "dashboard" which doesn't tell them what they need to know.

Clearly a dashboard is to show what you need to see, and to show it - well obviously ! But it isn't a windscreen - it's not where you should be looking most of the time !

If you drive a car, your dashboard is below your windscreen, it doesn't tell you where you are going (hopefully your navigator does that - darling the map's the wrong way up :), it doesn't tell you about the immediate hazards of driving (the child running across the road), but it DOES tell you about how you are driving, and relevant data about the machine you are controlling.

So that's a dashboard, or what it should be! - It assumes you are in control, it tells you how you are doing, and provides information about things you need to know - when you have time to step back from the immediate task !

So first lets sub-divide the problem. Questions help.

We are talking about saving energy and money, but are we talking about one building or many ? Are we talking about monitoring energy performance - or improving it ? Are we talking about buying energy less expensively, or verifying bills?

So remember, whatever task occupies you, your dashboard configuration should fit the needs of providing the background information you need - for that context! And it should be as comprehensive as possible. But it must not be a significant cost in itself - it must pay its' way, in saved time, avoidance of cost and exposure of opportunity.

Now it's highly likely that your utility company for gas or water, isn't the same as the one that supplies electricity. So they can't correlate the additional gas spend because you refilled the swimming pool, or where your compressor is chilling against an unwarranted heating load.

Maybe you have many buildings in many places supplied by various utility companies. Quite possibly none of them know about your opening hours, or that some of your load is weather dependent, and some is not. Do they allow you to change your expectations because of holidays. Imagine driving a car that only  had forwards gears!

So a dashboard is something pretty necessary for a manager, potentially complex and sometimes a great way of staying in command of your priorities. We have our views of what our clients want, and we listen when they tell us. What we are clear on though is that a dashboard is not a windscreen (energy bills), or a driver (building control systems), it is part of an essential supervisory function that aims to CHANGE the system !

Do you disagree ? - let us know in the comments !
Enhanced by Zemanta