Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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What do you mean by integration platform?

It is a centralized solution that integrates all the technology systems used in a building, including HVAC, lighting, security, and energy management. By connecting these systems, building owners and managers can optimize their operations, increase efficiency, and create a better environment for occupants.

Are you an IoT system?

PlaceOS is a platform that can connect to any device on the network in your smart building. We can perform certain IoT functions and mimic certain features but with the added benefit of integration across the rest of your building. Our main focus is on enabling user experiences by connecting everything in your building to one system. This covers many systems that have historically been isolated; including “IoT systems”.

Are you a building management system?

A Building Management System connects to building services, devices, and third-party software systems to provide monitoring and automation. PlaceOS can replicate this by integrating into these same systems as well as provide suitable logic and interfaces on top. As most devices and systems can now talk directly, there is less of a need for a traditional BMS. In many projects, we may simply integrate with an existing BMS to pull data and trigger actions using PlaceOS.

Are you an audiovisual control system?

Yes and no. We started our journey as a company by automating meeting rooms. But we quickly realized there were more interesting challenges in the building that our modular platform could expand to. In a nutshell, we can replace the need for a traditional control system in AV spaces and expand to other areas in the building. Some of our customers use PlaceOS purely for AV control, but that is just a fraction of PlaceOS capabilities. If you are looking for an easy way to save a lot of money on control hardware, consider PlaceOS for AV control.

Are you a room booking/room scheduling system?

We can cover almost all features provided by room booking apps that perform that specific function. We provide many user experiences; room finding and scheduling is one feature. We always ask the same design questions: what do you want to happen for this user in this location? Then we ask the technical question: what does PlaceOS need to integrate with to enable this experience? This has led to doing room scheduling and finding that integrates with Exchange (0365, Google, IBM, etc) that triggers other actions such as automatic check-in or conference set up.

Do I need any of the above systems?

No, PlaceOS could replace your IoT, BMS, and AV control systems as well as integrate with any other systems in your building. However, if you are locked into something, we can adapt to fit your needs, as a good smart building solution should.

Do you have an app?

We do provide packaged products like Room Booking, you can see our products here.

You can also build your own, check out the docs on how to. Apps can be deployed on the PlaceOS server as a web app: available simply by browsing to a URL and authenticating. If you want to develop an app or front-end from scratch we have docs on that as well as partnerships with creative agencies if you want this as a service.

Do I need an app?

Sometimes, basic user requirements are likely covered with our web-based templates and the combination of system logic and automatic triggers. Get in touch and we can run you through some examples and discuss when native apps might be useful, if at all. 

Who can build interfaces?

Anyone that can build web apps or native apps. Some of our clients engaged their creative agencies to build a smart building or workplace app. Sometimes we recommend our partner creative agency. And for some projects, our clients have the skills in-house.

What is passive user interaction?

We use this phrase for user experiences that are not graphical user interfaces. One example of this is our back-end tool called Triggers; it allows any input from any module to trigger any output from any other module. If the door opens, turn on the lights, which is a simple example. You can stack these up to limit how often a user needs to touch something on a touch panel or an app. The smarter these triggers get, the more passive the interaction becomes. We are aiming to get to a point where the building can predict everything you need and automate every process, so you never notice the technology, you just go about your day, and everything works.

Do you provide installation services?

We provide software installation and customization services, however, our partners are mostly providing PlaceOS services as part of the total solution. Let us know about your project and we can put you in touch with the right partner or kick off a direct engagement.

Is this an on-prem or cloud solution?

We install onto virtual machines using micro-containers, PlaceOS gives your IT department the control to install on either the cloud or on-premise. If you are after a hosted solution, a number of our partners offer this as SaaS.

How do I install it?

Our partners will provide the project services including installation. If you would like to install your demo we have an open-source branch and set up instructions on our GitHub page.

How do I customize it?

There are three areas of customization: 
1. Integration drivers 
2. Logic drivers 
3. User interfaces 
There are also settings that you can change in the admin panel: any company with IT staff will have this ability. Typically our partners provide services for all three.

How do I use PlaceOS?

In its purest form, PlaceOS is a set of base tools for you to create your own solutions. The deployments are managed by PlaceOS Backoffice.

What are the system requirements?

On the design side, it’s all about having the right dependencies in place. For example, this is our guide on how to track people in the building using your network. PlaceOS is a server application so the requirements are low; just several things to consider like auth, SSL, network design, remote access, and server hardware specs.

Can I create my own driver?
Do I need controller hardware?

We can communicate with anything on the network that has a communication protocol. If you want to control some weird and wonderful hardware, get it on the network with interface hardware such as Global Cache acting as the bridge.

Do I need interface hardware?

This is up to you. We are a software company, all user interactions could happen from mobile devices or automatic control triggers. But it makes sense to have a kiosk or touch panel for some interactions. All we need is something that can run a web page in full screen 24/7: most likely some remote management capabilities too. Most of our companies can sell interface hardware alongside the solution.

Do I need sensors?

Most likely not, but it is the right question you need to be asking. We can provide tracking using your existing network technology or perhaps your security cameras can provide us with user location. If you need to cover some blind spots or have your heart set on sensors, we recommend ones with APIs that allow us to talk directly to the sensor hardware. Otherwise, you will be installing another software platform just to give us some basic trigger messages from the sensors.

What devices do PlaceOS integrate with?

Anything on the network that can send us messages in some way. Technology with APIs makes this easy, we have an extensive library of devices that we built drivers for as well as APIs on how to build your driver; which we hope you contribute back to our open-source branch. See our full list of integrations here.

What corporate systems do PlaceOS integrate with?

Most of our clients are using Exchange, 0365, Google, or IBM Notes. We have modules for each of these for auth and calendar access for scheduling data.

Does it work with, “x”,”y” and “z”?

It’s not about whether or not we integrate with any given piece of technology. The question needs to be directed towards the technology, ask, “Does it have an API? Does it output data in some way? Does it easily and securely connect to the network? Has your network team approved it?” Once you answer the other questions above it is “yes”. If we don’t have an existing integration, we (or our partners) can build one promptly.

Does it integrate with single sign-on?
Can I have a proof of concept?

In short: No. If we spent time working on the proof of concepts for all our customers we wouldn't get any work done. But if you want to try it out we are more than happy to run a few web conference sessions helping you get your test environment up and running. Contact Sales.

How do you license it?

For custom enterprise solutions we licence per desk, room, or floor (whichever number is higher) on a tiered structure. We use a perpetual license in most cases. 15% PA for support is also an option.

How does PlaceOS manage data, protecting customer data and governs customer data?

Most data is not stored internally within the system. Sources of truth such as Office365 hold the data. Manipulated data is stored ephemerally in memory and access to any data requires authentication, authorisation to access is determined by the defined processes. Our in-depth information on how we handle security.

Can you please outline each type of datastore/database/data repository included in your system?

The PlaceOS Solution uses RethinkDB as the primary database and datastore. The PlaceOS Application does not store any data, all data is stored in RethinkDB. Access to the RethinkDB database can be arranged depending on client security for data modelling and/or extraction.

What type of data might you store?

All devices, device states, configuration and integrations are stored in the database. Secure items such as passwords are all encrypted on entry and are not human readable.

What happens to data stored when customers terminate their usage of PlaceOS?

The server is most typically hosted and managed by the customer, when the service is terminated the customer can decide to destroy the machine and all data, extract backups and destroy the data or retain the data as is.

What cryptographic protocols are used to secure client data at rest?

256 bit AES using GCM ciphers are used to prevent tampering & environment variables on client servers data at rest.

Can you please describe how PlaceOS adheres to common security principles?

The system is secure by design. All requests are authenticated and authorised, applications and domains also need to be registered within PlaceOS to function with the API. Cookies are secure, HTTPS and only transmitted on the relevant paths upon request. A valid authentication token will be checked against the domain, application and user upon any request. All input is whitelisted and models validated before being saved to the database.

Do you undertake ongoing periodic information security testing activities such as; vulnerability testing, penetration testing, and source code reviews against industry best practice guides?

Yes, the platform is regularly tested for vulnerabilities both in and out of production. Customers are free to conduct necessary penetration testing on the software once in production as a part of their internal security standards and auditing processes. These reports are often provided to PlaceOS for review, to date no vulnerabilities or risks have been reported.

How does PlaceOS provide least privileged role based access control?

The platform, by default has three user levels, these are System Administrators, Tech Support and Staff Member (can authenticate against SSO). System administrators have full access and control over the system configuration (via Web UI only) while Tech Support can see the status of systems and devices. Once connected with an IAM Provider, users can be assigned the necessary level of access. If no access level is assigned users are unable to log into the back office, with exception to the Staff App where business rules dictate staff can access the app without authentication. Infrastructure access is dictated by the customer.

Can you please outline how PlaceOS encrypts data at rest/ in-motion plus the key/certificate management technologies used?

Standard SSL/TLS is used for data in-motion.

What security measures are enforced internally upon staff with regards to customer information?

We use a range of standard tools for development including, but not limited too; GitHub, BitBucket, Jira and Confluence. All internal services are secured by SSO with 2-Factor Authentication enforced. No client or customer information, credentials or otherwise are stored locally on staff hardware. All internal access to code and client information is least privileged role/group based.

What information, if any, does PlaceOS share with third parties?

PlaceOS the platform and business do not share any customer information with third parties.

What are the available interfaces in which PlaceOS can interact and/or connect with third party services?

PlaceOS can interact with other systems using API, SOAP, REST, Web Sockets, HTTPS and SSH.

How does PlaceOS allow third party data visualisation tools to interact with your datastore?

PlaceOS can pass data logs to data visualisation tools such as Splunk or a web standard data visualisation tool such as Power Bi or Google Analytics via API. We also provide time-series data via InfluxDB. Data streams are available via MQTT.