Smart Buildings

Buildings are becoming both smarter and more connected.

Buildings are becoming both smarter and more connected.

Taking fibre route to building connectivity

The key to smart, connected buildings is a network infrastructure designed in a smart manner, ART KING of IBN Technologies*, Corning, tells Gulf Construction.

June 2019

Commercial real estate is irrevocably changing. Buildings are no longer judged solely on physical attributes such as location, presentation, and amenities. Instead, technology has emerged as a key differentiator.

In an article on, titled To be an Amazon Magnet, Your City Must be Wired, Arie Barendrecht, founder and CEO of WiredScore, says: “It’s easy to believe at this point that connectivity is the lifeblood of all modern businesses. The key thing to realise is almost every important thing we do at work, every application we use, is on connectivity.”

To be sure, buildings are becoming both smarter and more connected. That has become a must in order to support myriad services, applications, and technologies such as mobility, building automation, asset management, security, digital signage, eCommerce, the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and more. This underscores the importance of network infrastructure.

James Carlini, author of Location, Location, Connectivity, observes smart networks need to be reliable, redundant, and resilient.

Connectivity is increasingly being stressed at the edge of the network where the devices and users are. This demonstrates that the traditional approach to structured cabling based on a single-purpose infrastructure to support a single application is no longer an efficient and effective method.

Traditional structured wiring requires a proliferation of cabling in the horizontal pathway, creating congestion that is hard to manage over time. With 400 or more cables in a ceiling, it is likely that a variety of contractors and end-users have added and/or removed some over the years. This typically contributes to significant clutter and makes changing the network infrastructure even more challenging.

For these reasons, using large quantities of horizontal copper cables may not be the best way to distribute data throughout the enterprise – and it certainly won’t be able to support tomorrow’s technologies.

Fibre infrastructure, however, is future flexible and easily supports multiple services and applications.

Fibre not only provides virtually unlimited capacity, but it is also the ideal media to converge multiple applications and services such as voice, data, and video. This approach empowers the multiple stakeholders within a building – including the owner, tenants and service providers – to access a single infrastructure to deploy the applications they need or prefer.

To be clear, there is still a place for copper in smart, connected building infrastructures. Copper remains a compelling media for the last point-to-point connection to a device. However, limitations of copper solutions in bandwidth, power handling, and distance mean that networks should now be designed to push the fibre-to-copper transition point deeper into the network.

It has long been observed that, while the pace of change for technology is rapid, the pace of change within commercial real estate is slow. Emerging technologies such as 5G and IoT are poised to disrupt this mindset. This will create winners and losers, where former Class A buildings may no longer be able to command Class A tenants. 

The key to smart, connected buildings is a network infrastructure designed in a smart manner, and perhaps nothing can accomplish this more easily than optical fibre.

“By doing this, you have effectively cut out at least 95 per cent of your competition when it comes to seeking out a Class A tenant,” adds Carlini.

More and more buildings are recognising the need for businesses to have holistically equipped network capabilities.

But it is not just the streamlined convenience of converged network capabilities that is sparking a future-forward outlook; the benefits of a smarter, connected commercial building span from better space utilisation and tenant satisfaction to improved sustainability and lowered risk of repair. These benefits include reduce capital expenditures and operational expenses, thus leaving room for improved business potential.

All things considered, commercial real estate is undoubtedly on the cusp of revolution. As technology continues to grow and new platforms are enabled, the demand – and therefore need – for buildings to deliver the benefits of widespread connectivity will grow alongside it. A smart, connected building eschews traditional single-purpose networks for an intelligent and converged infrastructure.

Indeed, fibre makes building infrastructure better.


* IBN Technologies provides solutions to design networks differently through a fibre-deep network topology that offers future-ready connectivity inside buildings with the ability to converge multiple technologies.   

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