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Fairhair Specification – Background

Requirements of building-automation systems

Today’s building-automation systems are typically assembled as isolated, self-contained domains, and building administrators lack the capability for cross-domain, streamlined control over the building infrastructure. But the market is now demanding systems that offer a unified view of all building-automation domains, providing real-time insights into the building infrastructure and environment status. Facility managers also expect to gain almost complete control over the entire system. To reduce installation and operation costs, all components should speak the same set of communication protocols and work as one ecosystem able to exchange information.

Adopting an IP-based stack

The approach defined in the Fairhair Specification is to adopt an Internet Protocol (IP) stack as the common transport model for every device that is part of the building infrastructure. The unified IP networking layer provides a proven mechanism to establish end-to-end communication channels that can span across multiple networking domains, including public Internet. This enables integration of various previously-isolated application domains into one system.

Existing and new protocols

Such integration is not possible without adopting the established building-automation application protocols. Fairhair specifies the required extensions, such as metadata on resources and resource discovery, to enable IP connectivity and to increase the level of interoperability between the application protocols.

Fairhair’s approach is not only to adapt the existing protocols, but also to facilitate the deployment of a new set of protocols. The openness of this model will give building administrators the flexibility to select and deploy any application protocol and solution they may choose, now or in the future.

Being always connected and remotely accessible via public Internet, while beneficial, also brings significant risks to security and public safety from cyber threats. The Fairhair security architecture aims to address these risks by specifying device-, network- and application-level protections.

Fairhair brings together many established and new technologies to facilitate creation of IEC 62443-3 security Level 3 compliant building-automation systems. The Fairhair security model takes a layered approach based on network segmentation, federated security zones, and application-level authorization.

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