2016 Trends for Intelligent Buildings
Buildings are important to us; we spend a large
portion of our lives inside buildings. The Royal Institute of British
Architects has stated that we spend an average of 20 hours each day inside
commercial or residential buildings. As the planet’s population continues to
expand beyond the current seven-and-a-half billion people, so will the
buildings in which we live and work. They will naturally become more numerous
but also denser (people per area) as land value increases. Estimates for the
total number of buildings in the world vary, but a rough estimate is that there is at least one billion buildings across the world. Whichever way we slice and dice
the data, it is clear that buildings, particularly the buildings in which we
work, are a vital part of our lives.
Last year we highlighted trends pertaining to the
Internet of Things (IoT), sensors networks, Category 6A and fiber technologies.
We have seen these all become more topical this past year, especially in
buildings. Here is a summary of what I believe are some of the key trends
influencing intelligent buildings as we move forward into 2016.
the global number of active mobile connections (GSMA
Intelligence) now exceeding the
number of people in the world, and with the vast majority of mobile connections
originating or terminating within a building, it is indisputable that people
expect to be able to perform much of their normal business via cellular or
Wi-Fi based wireless connections. This need is driving network design to cover:
Wi-Fi technology and supporting network infrastructure based on the latest standards
(IEEE standard 802.11ac [wave 2])
dedicated in-building wireless technology through distributed antenna systems
or small cell solutions to optimize cellular coverage across the workplace
in buildings should be thought of in the same way as any basic utility like
water and gas; this means designing the connectivity network at the same time
as the building itself is being designed.
The Need for Energy Efficient Low Voltage Power in Buildings
loads in commercial buildings are increasing; much of this is due to the
proliferation of active field devices such as: wireless access points and
in-building wireless antennas; Internet protocol (IP) network cameras and VoIP phones; LED light
and environmental controllers. Understanding how we power these devices
efficiently and effectively in a building is a growing challenge. Traditionally
the power supplied to buildings has been alternating current (AC) power which
is then stepped down or converted to direct current (DC) using inefficient
transformers/rectifiers in order to power devices inside buildings. However,
with governments now demanding that carbon dioxide emissions associated with
buildings be minimized, attention has turned to improving the efficiency of low
voltage power distribution network inside buildings.
most instances, active devices in buildings are IP-enabled
devices driven by the need for convergence. For these devices, power can be
provided via low (or extra low) voltage DC. For decades,
Ethernet cabling deployed for data network connectivity in buildings also
provides DC power. This approach has the benefit of being standards-based. IEEE
Power over Ethernet (PoE) 802.3af and IEEE Power over Ethernet Plus (PoEP) 802.3at
are the current standards. An IEEE taskforce is now discussing the next
evolution of the PoE standard (IEEE 802.3bt) with a stated aim of 49W minimum
power levels and a likely maximum of 100W. Power over HDBase-T (POH) is another
approach developed by an alliance of consumer electronics manufacturers that
offers a maximum power level of 100W. As DC power levels increase more and
more, different IP devices will emerge, driving the need for even more
efficient low voltage DC power in buildings.
that Improve the Employee or Tenant Experience
office is no longer only a place to go to work between the hours of nine to
five, but also a venue where employees collaborate, create and connect at
anytime. Businesses understand that in a globally competitive world they will
attract employees and tenants by offering a ‘best in class’ work space that
positively influences health/wellness and productivity. To improve an
environment we need to understand its current state; this means being able to measure
environmental, space and energy metrics. Embedding increasingly sophisticated
sensor technology into the fabric of a building enables this data to be
instantly collected, processed and acted upon. This approach offers:
to automatically manage space relating to desk sharing (hot desking) or
conference rooms in a user friendly and optimized way
of ambient room/building conditions, including light level, temperature and
humidity, for more comfortable and productive working environments
to help minimize a building’s carbon footprint by optimizing energy consumption
in real; thereby improving not only operating costs but also corporate social
responsibility indices or “green”
Integrated Workplace Management Systems and other software platforms will feed off this type of data to help
create a superior workplace.
Integrating Devices on a Common Network Infrastructure
IoT is a tangible phenomenon. If you look around any
commercial building, you will notice hundreds, if not thousands, of connected
devices. The reduction in costs, sensor miniaturization plus advances in device
connectivity capability has enabled a massive network of interconnected
devices. However, as the IoT concept mushrooms, so do its challenges.
back just a few years, a commercial building had multiple, proprietary sub
systems for its various management systems. The dominance of IP networking and
associated global standards (like IEEE 802.3) across almost all aspects of
technology has allowed all building management systems and associated devices
to be interconnected through common wired or wireless infrastructure.
is a myriad of connected devices, but are they communicating? The lack of a
generally accepted protocol for device-to-device communication leads to
inefficiencies. This communication ‘failure’ means that buildings are ‘dumber’
than they should be. Interoperability standards are progressing with the
AllSeen Alliance and the Industrial Internet Consortium being two of the larger
groups working on this.
Devices that speak the same language and utilize the
same network infrastructure can aggregate and process real time data about
their immediate environment in a highly efficient way.
As we move into 2016, I am convinced that buildings
are more important to us than ever before, affecting not only our professional
lives but also much of what we do personally. Organizations will start tackling
the challenge of not just gathering the data, but making better use of the data
to make the better decisions to improve the efficiencies of the
building and the people living or working in it.
About the Author
Ispran Kandasamy, Ph.D.
Dr. Ispran Kandasamy (Ish) works out of Singapore and Dallas as the global leader for CommScope’s Enterprise Building Solutions group. He leads a team of segment specialists and technical architects, located around the world, who are focused on helping customers design and implement their intelligent/smart building strategies.
Over the past 30 years, Ish has built up a proven track record in R&D, manufacturing, sales & marketing within IT, telecom/carrier and general communications industries. Previously, he worked as CommScope’s Enterprise sales leader for the entire Asia Pacific geography and also worked for Avaya’s Connectivity Solutions business as Managing Director for Asia Pacific based in HK. Prior to that, he was the Director of Channel Distribution and a sales manager for fiber infrastructure for Lucent Technologies based in London. Whilst at Pirelli Cables & Systems (now Prysmian) he lead a team that designed, developed and sold passive optical infrastructure.
Ish holds a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D) in materials science and physics relating to optical devices from Brunel University (now University of West London), England. He is also the co-author of a number of patents.