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Smart Infrastructure: Creating an intelligent building
By Prem Rodrigues, Director for Middle East, India and SAARC, Siemon
Intelligent buildings are on the rise and the economic and environmental benefits of a converged intelligent building infrastructure have India’s building developers, owners and operators taking notice. Intelligent buildings allow an unprecedented visibility into a building’s operations, which, in turn, brings greater savings and efficiency. Investing in the development of intelligent buildings advances the Smart Cities Mission, a Government of India initiative that aims to develop over 100 smart cities across the country. Therefore, it is important to understand what makes a building an intelligent building and how they shape the future of India.
Driven by IoT
IoT can include practically any component, device or machine including the devices that make up commercial building systems. If the current trend continues, it is anticipated that by 2020, IoT will enable the exchange of data between nearly 50 billion IP-enabled devices.
Sensor technology is the driving force behind IoT as it facilitates the gathering of measurable information such as temperature, speed, noise, light and humidity. This is truly the technology behind intelligent buildings, especially the connection of building automation and control devices, which is the key to lowering operation costs and energy consumption. The technology ecosystem includes a wide range of sensors for climate control, lighting control, air quality, thermostats, HVAC control systems, and security systems. Building systems can be controlled and managed based on the analysis of data collected from these networked sensors. According to a recently published TechSci Research report, the Indian building automation and control market is extremely promising with an anticipated three-fold growth by 2019 due primarily to rapid infrastructure development and urbanisation combined with the country’s smart building initiatives.
To truly create an intelligent building, building systems and devices with sensors must be converged on a single unified low-voltage network infrastructure supported by common communications protocols such as Internet Protocol (IP). The use of common protocols supports integration of building systems via real-time sharing of information between devices and systems. For example, imagine an employee entering a building with a badge at an access control panel. That information can be communicated with other building systems to then illuminate his work space, enable network access and make necessary HVAC adjustments. In another scenario, the integration of systems and ability to share information means that when a motion detector is tripped in a secure area, the cameras are activated, video feeds are transmitted, classified areas are locked down and alerts are forwarded to security personnel.
Similar to the monitoring and analysing of data within an intelligent building, IoT and sensor technology also allows entire cities to operate more efficiently. Utilities can react to changes in local usage, traffic and public transport systems can move people more effectively, and public works can reduce waste and cost.
The importance of PoE
A technology that goes alongside IoT devices and has the potential to deliver even more benefits is power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE allows several devices connected to the network to be powered via copper network cabling, eliminating the need for devices to be powered locally from a traditional AC power outlet. Powering everything from Wi-Fi access points, phones and digital monitors, to building automation controllers, surveillance cameras and even advanced LED lights, PoE is a vital component to effectively support IoT both now and in the future. As PoE becomes common in intelligent buildings, a higher quality and specially qualified shielded copper cabling is recommended as power delivery within network cabling can produce a damaging temperature rise.
When an intelligent building consists of thousands of connected devices, the use of zone cabling can simplify moves, additions and changes. Zone cabling is a highly flexible infrastructure that is suited for the convergence of voice, data, wireless and building device applications over a single managed network, providing noteworthy cost benefits. Instead of running cable from telecommunications rooms to every device, zone cabling features shorter lengths of cables, which connect the devices to optional consolidation points that may be located within zone enclosures mounted under a raised floor, in the ceiling, or in the wall.
When network cabling connects devices and converges all of the information onto a single unified physical infrastructure that also delivers PoE, it provides significant cost savings by reducing disparate platforms, consolidating cabling and pathways, and simplifying deployment.
Creating smart cities
It is converged intelligent buildings such as these that will enable smart cities around the country. However, for smart cities to work, stakeholders within individual government, private and public buildings need to collaborate to develop working ecosystems on a broader city-wide basis. With an aim to develop over 100 smart cities across the country through the Smart Cities Mission, India presents bright opportunities for the deployment of intelligent buildings.
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