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In late 2006 we started constructing our house here in Degerö. This is by no means an ordinary building, with triple power networks, more than 200 sensors and actuators plus an underground bedrock floor, so we did most of the architecting and engineering work by ourselves. However, completing it in a reasonable timetable meant using an army of contractors specialized in different areas like masonry, plumbing, electrical wiring and so on.

We enforced individual contracts with each company, with clear milestones and payment timetables. The aim was to use mostly local companies, with short commutes and reputation sensitivity. This mostly succeeded, apart from a couple of traveling types.

But what comes to tools and equipment, we decided to acquire most of them ourselves, in order to be used in the years to come. This meant drills, circular saws, grinders and a multitude of other power tools, in addition to special equipment for light concrete processing.

After the construction had progressed for some good two months, I noticed that some of the tools were either missing, or mysteriously switched to cheaper or older models. When questioned, no contractor naturally remembered anything about the tools. We did have our names and construction site number in them, but it did little to stop the churn.

After one of my precision saws was lost, I decided to put the ‘Property of BaseN’ aluminum sticker to all the remaining tools, knowing that it is very sticky, meant to stay firmly in our data center servers in varying temperatures. After one contractor inquired about it, I invented a white lie that it is an RFID tag, traceable to one meter accuracy with GPS.

Anyone familiar with 2006-level RFID technology would have detected my bluff, but back then it worked like charm. We didn’t lose a single tool in the remaining 6 months, and one of the early spirit levels was even mysteriously returned, just to be swiftly BaseN tagged.

Now in 2016 we actually have BaseN Platform -connected tags with almost exactly matching my 2006 fictional functionality, and there’s even a global construction service provider offering people and tool tracking as a service globally, on top of BaseN. The whole construction site is spimed.

In 2016, the venerable ‘Form follows function’ principle could perhaps be appended with ‘Requirement creates service’. Instead of waiting 10 years, we can now do it hours.

And yes, no-one should steal man’s taps and dies. Those are sacred.

//Pasi

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