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A Smart System for Monitoring and Improving the Performance of School District Buildings



The rising cost of energy usage in buildings and the associated environmental impacts has led to a rise in the demand for cost-effective, energy saving measures and environmentally friendly, smart building management solutions. More specifically, integrating and implementing Internet of Things (IoT) devices, controllers, and sensors across building networks can lead to an effective and robust building management system. 

Partner: KMC CONTROLS  l  Region: USA


Faced with multiple building monitoring challenges, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, based in the United States, sought a fully integrated system for its district buildings that would integrate both Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). Additional requirements included the improvement of indoor air quality (which became especially important following the COVID-19 pandemic), temperature and humidity control, lighting control, occupancy tracking, management of safety measures for building accessibility, and more.

Overall, the goal is to increase overall energy efficiency, decrease operating and maintenance costs, maintain the health and safety of building occupants (e.g., employees, staff, and students), and provide access to data for more analytics-based building monitoring and management. 

System Requirements

As the second-largest employer in Chicago and the third-largest school district in the U.S., CPS comprises 642 elementary, high schools, and charter schools. One of the essential requirements for CPS was the necessity of a framework to integrate, monitor, and manage metrics across various buildings. 

The benefits of this system include reduced energy costs, better building performance, and improved safety and well-being of the teachers and students. These benefits also foster transparency, effective building management, and relevant data for future management decisions. Examples of some of the desired features include the following:

  • Effective control of the temperature and humidity conditions within the buildings
  • Monitoring of the indoor air quality for the staff, students, and visitors
  • Identifying energy savings across major utilities
  • Gaining visibility into previously unmonitored schools
  • Unifying the data across multiple building automation systems into a single cloud-based solution.

System Description

This solution includes Advantech’s UNO-420 gateway and KMC Commander®, an IoT and Automation Platform from KMC Controls®, a strategic partner of Advantech. With access to variable hardware technology in networking, Advantech plays a vital role in this complicated framework, ensuring operational effectiveness.

Advantech’s UNO-420 gateway is a fanless design with Intel® Atom™ E3815 Processor, 3x COM port, 2x LAN port (including Power Over Ethernet [PoE] technology), and 8 x programmable GPIO. The UNO-420 supports an Ethernet cable for both data and power delivery and effective at different operating temperatures and conditions. The gateway collects data from sensors, devices, controllers, and other building systems, which feed into KMC Commander. 

The KMC Commander IoT and automation platform is a secure platform that tracks the data and trends based on the preferences set by CPS. Users can also use KMC Commander to set up alarms and notifications, create schedules, and configure internal and external user-profiles segmented by authorization with custom dashboards. Additional features of KMC Commander include a responsive user interface, cellular capability, and cloud service powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Watch the Case Study Video

System Diagram

Project Implementation

  • UNO-420: Intel® Atom™ PoE Powered Device Sensing Gateway with 3 x COM, 2 x LAN (1 x PoE), 8 x GPIO, HDMI, USB3.0
  • KMC Commander 


Due to increasing energy costs, environmental considerations, growing need for safe access of buildings and welfare of occupants, a combination of Advantech’s UNO-420 gateway and KMC Commander from KMC Controls creates a smart building management system to monitor and improve the performance of the building network for CPS. Advantech’s UNO-420 gateway will collect the data from sensors, devices, and building systems across CPS’s infrastructure, which then feeds into the KMC Commander IoT platform. 

KMC Commander will improve energy consumption, optimize operational efficiency, improve the health and safety of the occupants, and provide access to data and insights into the building’s performance.