Instead of connecting people, we’re now connecting devices. Instead of supporting fixed connections, we’re supporting more wireless connections. And we’re shifting from supporting locally powered devices to remotely powered devices instead.
All of these shifts change the way the industry approaches network infrastructure. To achieve all that a smart building can offer, it first needs to be built upon a strong foundation.
The Importance of Your Digital Infrastructure
Underneath your network lies a foundation: layer 0. It’s the one we don’t often talk about. It’s frequently overlooked, but it’s so critical. Installed behind the walls and above the ceiling, behind closed doors and in dark rooms, cabling and connectivity are important layers of your information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure.
Digital infrastructure can make or break a network. Even the best, most high-performing building systems designed to connect via IP and transmit/receive data won’t do any good if your infrastructure can’t provide reliable uptime and fast speeds for data sharing and consumption.
Each organization’s layer 0 is unique and can include:
- Twisted-pair copper cabling, supporting data rates from 100 Mbps all the way up to 40 Gbps and power delivery ranging from 15W to 100W
- Optical fiber cabling (multimode or singlemode with longer reach and higher bandwidth capabilities)
- High-speed cable assemblies (direct-attach copper cables assemblies or active optical cable assemblies)
It also includes racks and enclosures with power distribution, thermal management and cable management features.
An incorrectly designed layer 0 could mean pauses in information transfer, delays in streaming media, downloads that take longer than they should – or complete system downtime.
Why a Smart Building Needs a Solid Infrastructure
A smart building is seamless in operation, thanks to its connected infrastructure. Building systems that stood alone for years – voice, data, wireless, lighting, security, AV, etc. – using a combination of twisted-pair cabling, AC power and video cable can now be networked together using one common infrastructure.
All of these devices, which use Internet protocol to send and receive data via the network, converge under one umbrella for cost savings, easier maintenance and better building control.
Because smart buildings are so connected, devices and systems talk directly to each other and make necessary adjustments instead of requiring manual control and human intervention. The data gathered by these IP-enabled devices is sent back to the network – and to other devices – for evaluation. Based on what these devices “see” and experience, adjustments and enhancements are made in real time throughout the day to keep expenses down, reduce energy use, maintain comfort and prevent performance problems.
A smart building provides everything an enterprise needs to run smarter, automatically and efficiently. It has technology and infrastructure to support:
- Convergence: Bringing previously disparate, unconnected devices to our networks for direct communication and integration without any human interaction or intervention to share information, deliver high-quality AV, ensure life safety and improve building management
- Reliability: Constant uptime that allows business processes to continue, keeping revenue and productivity as high as possible
- Efficient Powering Solutions: The ability to support local powering and higher-power Power over Ethernet, which delivers power of up to 100W through Ethernet cables to devices
- Productivity: Systems and technology that allow people and devices on the network to complete their jobs quickly and efficiently, without delays or bottlenecks
- Analytics: Usage statistics and data that can be used for more informed decision-making
- Environmental Solutions: Human health, workplace well-being and green building initiatives to improve the environment, tenant/occupant satisfaction and employee productivity
These things are all possible through an infrastructure that supports the systems that make up a smart building.
Preparing Digital Infrastructure
As IoT becomes more realistic for today’s enterprises, layer 0 may be responsible if the IP-enabled devices that connect to networks don’t function as intended. If the cabling infrastructure isn’t designed and installed to support increasing numbers of devices, then those devices won’t be able to communicate with the network (or each other).
We’re excited to attend NSCA’s upcoming Pivot to Profit conference in Atlanta on Oct. 23-24, where we’ll explain how converged technology and applications deployed properly on your infrastructure can help maximize building efficiency, reduce operating costs, increase safety, and enhance occupant productivity. We’ll see you then!