Rise of the Machines

The leaves are turning here in Bethesda, Md. Fall is a cliched metaphor for change, and it’s the part of the annual cycle that cynics abhor for pumpkin-spiced everything. This month, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR looks at emerging markets, the birth of new trends and technologies, and, while we don’t want to alarm you, there’s a bit of a rise of the machines going on.

We see it in everything from small sensors that form the Internet of Things (IoT) and aid heating and cooling systems, in new lighting products that attune to daylight and your preferences, in unmanned aircraft systems (aka drones) enabling electrical contractors to look for problems remotely, and in cars and trucks that drive themselves.

We haven’t covered the latter (although, Uber is testing a fleet of unmanned automobiles in Pittsburgh), but you can read about the rest in this issue.

For instance, have you viewed our drone video?

In “The Buzz About Drones,” Jim Phillips writes about these high-flying machines as a new tool for ECs to evaluate and diagnose problems with electrical equipment.

Susan Casey, author of two books on inventing, works on one of her personal passions. Here she writes about regular people—ECs among them—who came up with great ideas and the differences they make to our profession. In “How They Were Made,” Casey talks to the creators responsible for innovative devices in the electrical industry, some of which amp up automation.

When all of this comes together, we can do some cool stuff with energy distribution. In “Community Energy Renaissance,” Jeff Gavin writes about how communities are uniting through energy projects. We’ve covered microgrids and distributed energy before, but some communities are going beyond into what they call “eco-districts.” Whatever you call them, they require some pretty high-tech devices.

Finally on this theme, “Central Intelligence,” Claire Swedberg writes about data centers. Swedberg finds that, while the IoT has aided data centers with their enormous energy and cooling demands, the real all-stars are the sensor technologies “on the edge,” and people must figure out what to do with all that information. This is truly an emerging market.

Of course, to an extent, we focus on these types of emerging systems every other month in our bimonthly supplement, INTEGRATED SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR.

It’s no secret that the electrical industry, like everything else, is getting more integrated and systems-oriented. We want to hear what you think. Please consider sharing it with us by signing up for our subscriber research panel at ECmag.com/2016-panel-signup.

About the Author

Julie Mazur

Julie Mazur is the editor of Electrical Contractor magazine. Contact her at julie.mazur@necanet.org .
About the Author

Timothy Johnson

Timothy Johnson is editor—digital for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine. Reach him at timothy.johnson@necanet.org

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