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Johnson Controls Tech Leadership on Display at Fiserv Forum

Technology and HVAC editors were invited to Milwaukee to tour the Fiserv Forum, the new home to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The evolution of “smart buildings” continues to reach higher plateaus of innovation. One of the latest monuments to what is possible in the smart building arena, is the Fiserv Forum, new home to the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise. Inside and surrounding the arena, digital products by Johnson Controls have made the Forum an example state-of-the-art sports and entertainment connectivity.

Representatives from Johnson Controls, Inc. recently hosted more than a dozen building technology editors for a tour of the Fiserv Forum, followed by a Smart Ready Panel discussion. The day’s events were held to coincide with the Global Security Exposition, Sept. 7-10 in Chicago. Johnson Controls bussed editors from GSX to Milwaukee and then back again, to share its accomplishment with the building controls industry at-large.

As the official “Smart Building” Partner of Fiserv Forum, Johnson Controls was awarded the opportunity — in much the same way as it has been doing at the NFL Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Oh.— to work alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and their partners to create a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue.

“Our ownership group committed to building an arena that is the gold standard for a sports and entertainment facility, while also driving additional development and community growth throughout the region. We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish those goals without the partnership and support of Johnson Controls. Together with our partners we build an incredible arena and an incredible future for our home city,” said Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks president.

Johnson Controls’ building, business and vertical market systems are managed on a unified, intelligent infrastructure, and include heating, ventilation and air conditioning, building automation, security, lighting, fire protection and information technology.

The tour of the Fiserv Forum revealed the results of a network of building technology solutions throughout the facility, that is providing a better fan experience, improving building performance, and reducing both energy usage and the arena’s environmental footprint. Johnson Controls worked with the Milwaukee Bucks, Montenson Construction, ICON Venue Group and many industry-leading subcontractors to furnish, install and integrate state-of-the-art smart building solutions throughout the new facility. These solutions, which were described to the editors on the tour, include technological innovations for security, video streaming, digital ticketing, and many sound and visual innovations displayed over the Forum scoreboard and 850 television screens.

Systems are saving 20 percent in operational costs. The building features an Internet speed of 20GB, and the network is capable of handling 72TB of data for real-time content sharing during every game. 2500 pieces of heating and cooling equipment operate as needed for attendee comfort.

Johnson Controls’ building, business and vertical market systems are managed on a unified, intelligent infrastructure, and include heating, ventilation and air conditioning, building automation, security, lighting, fire protection and information technology.

“The development is truly transforming for the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin,” Nick Treder, business manager for Johnson Controls Connected Technologies sales business for Wisconsin, said to editors during the Forum tour. “This has become a ‘destination,’ and our partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks, from its beginnings, through its growth and development, has been something to behold.”

Following the tour, a panel discussion on the topic of “Smart Readiness” was convened at Johnson Controls headquarters building in downtown Milwaukee. Panelists represented business leaders in various categories for Johnson Controls and the Bucks organization, to discuss how smart functionalities are being implemented today, to provide best practices for organizations seeking guidance for getting started, as well as those interested in optimizing and better connecting technologies already in place. Hank Monaco, director of marketing for Johnson Controls Building Solutions North America, served as moderator.

What is Smart Readiness?
Technology shifts at blinding speeds. Being "smart ready" help businesses look ahead so they can plan for those changes. Discussion moderator Hank Monaco described smart readiness as a quality that starts when organizations project into the future, to envision likely technology needs for a variety of applications, and take action to leverage centralization and technology platforms, and planning for use cases and desired results.

“Whether it’s a building, city, or community, these are the types of things Johnson Controls, as a leader in building technology, is thinking about,” Monaco said.

As example of steps taken towards readiness, Monaco referenced Johnson Controls’ 2018 "Energy Efficiency Indicator" survey, which revealed that more than half of all global organizations plan to increase energy efficiency spending over the course of 2019, including building controls and building systems integration.

“We’re listening to folks tell us about technology trends they’re seeing, and how they want to integrate technologies to take advantage of all the benefits they could deliver: from better learning in schools, better outcomes in health vocations or a better fan experience. These are terrific opportunities in the marketplace that we all want to take advantage of,” Monaco said.

Panelist thought leaders shared insights into ways in which they’re thinking about and preparing for the future and the ways Johnson Controls can help them get there, and what it means to be “smart ready.”

Panelists were: Adam Stockwell, vice president of security for the Milwaukee Bucks; Matt Pazaras, Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president of business development and strategy. Representing Johnson Controls were Jim Nannini, vice president of Building Wide Systems Integration; Nick Treder, business manager for Johnson Controls Connected Technologies sales business in Wisconsin; and Heather Naida, vice president of advanced solutions and construction for North America.

Stockwell, who has a background as police officer and special agent with the US Secret Service, said security strategy planning for the Fiserv Forum was top-of-mind even as the foundation was being laid in 2014.

“Security in this field has come a long way over the past 10 years, with new technologies, processes and procedure, for more robust security planning strategies and delivery. There are also some unique specific related to sports security in general,” Stockwell said. What we needed the system to be able to do in this specific setting.”

One of Stockwell's resources was Dan Donovan, vice president of sports and entertainment security for T&M Protection Resources. “Dan helped guide me. I brought my knowledge from my background, and he knows what it takes to provide security measures in arenas, so we linked up our knowledge for a year-and-a-half.”

Matt Pazaras said cloud-based technological developments have had the greatest impact on the Fiserv Forum fan experience, and will continue to do so in the future.

“The timing was such that we were able to have a majority of technologies reside in the cloud, and we’re future-proofing it as much as possible,” Pazaras said, “because we’ll be able to pivot, and add new technologies. Being mainly cloud-based, with strong WiFi are primarily driving the fan experience.” 

The fan experience includes WiFi that extends to the grounds surrounding the Fiserv Forum, the main point of which is the Mecca Sports Bar & Grill, which operates on the same systems coursing through the Forum interior. The graphics and music heard inside the Forum will be seen and heard inside the Mecca, on large screens surrounding the space.

Keys to Systems Integration
Johnson Controls' Jim Nannini is an experienced integration solutions leader who is optimizing tomorrow's intelligent building systems to deliver business outcomes. He said the process of creating a "smart ready" environment is firmly grounded in technological flexibility that systems providers must acquire and demonstrate to clients. 

"When you move to a cloud-based solution, and a reliance on fixed assets apart from that, you have greater flexibility," Nannini said. The ability to adjust is a key element. What the fan wants today, and what the Milwaukee Bucks are doing from a branding standpoint might not be the same a year or two from now."

As heating and air conditioning contractors can attest, a building owner will often seek to extend the life of a rooftop unit or chiller beyond its advisable lifespan. That won't be as simple in locations where today's and tomorrow's technology comes into play. That includes project planning and development, where that flexibility is essential.

"Building in flexibility starts with an owner having the vision and gumption to carry out that vision, when there are a fair amount of folks used to building a certain [sometimes outdated] way," Nannini admitted. "That's where the gumption comes in, of staying true to that vision and being able to execute on it. Then, as an industry, we get wrapped up in the physical beauty of the infrastructure. The Fiserv Forum is a combination of the physical and digital infrastructures. We make sure they work together holistically to drive the desired outcomes." 

Nannini explained that the systems to be accounted for in the build included business systems; an IT network; security; and the vertical network systems such as scoreboards and point-of-sale locations. We had to look at it holistically, but the traditional process of construction or retrofit involves 'silos' of particular ways of thinking. The Bucks organization helped us knock down those silos. It was a vision everybody was able to rally around."

Nick Treder is responsible for providing large volume, integrated low voltage technology solutions to owners, contractors and consultants for all Johnson Controls lines of business. He said early engagement and collaboration helped to positively influence deliverables and a successful outcome.  

“The key is planning, and preparing for the path a client or building owner is taking,” Treder said. “We know the technology is changing faster than we can expect, so it’s all about keeping up with those changes, and integrating the technology into the overall project or capital expenditure. Planning involves moving to the experience the owner wants to have. Then, having that tied to some form of outcome. So every business, regardless of vertical market – whether it’s sports, healthcare, what have you – has the outcomes that they need.

"Having the path to get you there, early in the process is essential. And that starts with building the right team: getting early engagement from a technology standpoint, making sure you’ve got the right partners in place, and developing a solution that gets you to the only thing that matters: the customer’s outcome.”

As vice president of advanced solutions, construction for Johnson Controls in North America, Heather Naida builds, executes and manages sales programs. She currently oversees goals for skyline construction projects in North America, which includes ensuring Johnson Controls provides high tech digital outcomes. Doing so requires a considerable amount of up-front planning.

"All of our customers have different and unique needs, but they all need upfront planning. When we work with customers up-front, we can ensure that we provide the most cost effective, productive and efficient building, that is integrated and maximized to work for them. When a customer waits, and is not as up-front, it becomes much harder, from a timing perspective and cost perspective, to integrate disparate systems."

Naida explained Johnson Controls' four-step up-front process, one that involves a partnership between customers and Johnson Controls internal teams.

The first step is master planning: "With each customer we want to sit down and understand their master plan. We work together, to ensure it is all documented and future focused. As Matt said, we want to protect our future investment along with today’s initial project investment," Naida said.

Second, work begins on design guidelines. "A master plan is only a good as the design guidelines you have. Once you have the design guidelines, we continue with the customer," Naida explained, to work through step three, product implementation.

"We partner with our customers through the implementation process, to work on the full delivery of that connected building," Naida said. 

The final step is to continue the partnership with the customer through the building's lifecycle, which will include maintenance, service and upgrades.

"Once we follow this upfront approach, we help make that building work for them and empower their mission to succeed," Naida added.

Breaking through older project management cultures brings with it an element of risk, which can be in the technology itself, Pazaras said.

"The technology changes quickly. Something could be obsolete in 12 months. And if you're evaluating a new company you have to determine if it's something you can buy into, or will it be old in one year? We determine what is proven and what is not, while still maintaining the ability to be on the forward edge." 

'Library' Provides Valuable Archive of Projects
Johnson Controls develops systems that are specific to the client experience and outcomes. Technology is the enabler in creating those outcomes, Treder said. 

"We are going through a generational shift, and much of the industry is expecting something different, whether it's in sports, entertainment, commercial, health care and more," he added. Toward that end, Johnson Controls maintains a "library" of use cases that it refers to when beginning new projects. 

"We're able to use the library to see what worked and what didn't. It's a knowledge base of integrations and paths to create outcomes," Treder said. "When a client presents us with a request, requirement or business need, we’re usually able to go back into the library, make some tweaks and adjustments. And that’s what allows us as a technology organization to respond quickly. It starts with the library of use cases, that document where we’ve done really well or not."

Below is a listing of the various Johnson Controls products installed in the Fiserv Forum. With these products, systems and technologies, Johnson Controls ensures Fiserv Forum provides the best experience possible for fans, optimal operations, and advanced sustainability within the arena and entertainment district. Johnson Controls took responsibility for the entire technology integration process, from design to implementation to optimization. This coordinated effort used project dollars more effectively, reduced risk, prioritized technology requirements now and in the future, and delivered an environment that augments the in-arena fan experience without sacrificing venue sustainability and operational excellence.

Johnson Controls Technologies

• Metasys Energy Management

• SoftwareHouse Access Control

• victor/VideoEdge Video Management

• Simplex Fire Alarm System

Johnson Controls/YORK HVAC Equipment

• Chillers

• AHUs

• VAV Boxes

• Exhaust Fans

• GRDs

• Louvers

• VFDs

Johnson Controls Building-wide Systems Integration

• Cisco Converged Network

• Structured Cabling Plant

• Wi-Fi

• VoIP Phone System

• Broadcast Cabling Plant

• Cable Tray System

• Audio/Visual Systems

• IPTV System

• In-House Video Production Room

• Distributed Antenna System





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