Smart Building

What Makes a Building ‘Smart’? Addressing Smart Building Challenges

Matt Baum

The rise of IoT and convergence can give you a competitive advantage, help you cut costs and save time, and provide data for better decision-making.

In simple terms, IoT has created the opportunity for automation. Smart buildings that make use of IoT, for example, rely on automated devices, systems and sensors to interact with one another, share data and make performance adjustments based on what’s happening – with very little human intervention.

When systems connect directly to the network and interact with each other, powerful things can happen. Let’s say, for example, that you arrive at work one day – and your office is located inside a smart building. Because you’re an early riser, you’re one of the first employees onsite. Once you use your access card to enter, the building “knows” you’re there.


The access control system communicates the fact that you’ve arrived to the building management and lighting systems, adjusting the temperature and turning on the lights in your office before you get there. Because the building also “knows” that you’re expecting a client at 9:15am, the digital signage system starts displaying a customized welcome message. A few minutes before your customer meeting is set to begin, the conference room’s videoconferencing system turns on and logs you in so things are ready to go once you enter.


In many conversations about smart buildings, an important component is missing: Discussion about smart building challenges. Bringing smart buildings to life first requires new approaches to network infrastructure. IoT technology itself isn’t what makes a building smart – the building first needs a foundation that can support its intelligence.


What’s Changing the Game?

To support automation, integration and data gathering, new applications and technologies are becoming prolific. Three of the biggest game-changers include:


More IoT Devices

In the not-so-distant past, network connectivity was relegated to desktops, laptops and smartphones. This connectivity has now extended to all types of devices that have never been connected to networks before. This connectivity means that the devices can interact with each other over the network, as well as be monitored and controlled.


Power Delivery

Smart buildings now require not only data transmission between devices, but also efficient power delivery. Because PoE transmits data and power over a standard Ethernet cable, this cabling technology lets you deploy devices at any location – even far from electrical outlets. It also gives each connected device a dedicated IP address for individual management and control.


Today, PoE can provide power up to 100W in situations where high-power devices are deployed per the newest PoE standard: IEEE 802.3bt.



Underpinning smart buildings and IoT are wired and wireless networks. Wi-Fi is what gives people and their devices the option to be untethered. More than nine billion Wi-Fi-enabled devices are in use around the globe. And a new wireless standard on the way – IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) – is set to support fast connections for many devices at once, which will lead to even more wireless devices in play. 


Handling Smart Building Challenges

To handle growing technologies like PoE, IoT and Wi-Fi, new cabling and connectivity requirements are emerging as well. Without new approaches to network infrastructure, these technologies are only a pipe dream.


Here are some of the cabling and connectivity methods being deployed today to address smart building challenges ...


Category 6A Cable

When comparing category cabling options for smart buildings, you’re better off using Category 6A cable. It operates at frequencies of up to 500 MHz – twice that of Category 6 – and provides the most efficient power delivery to keep power waste to a minimum in PoE applications.


Some Category 6A cable also has enough insertion loss margin to handle the extra heat generated from delivery of high power in tightly packed cables without impacting performance. For example, Belden 10GXS cable can handle the added heat while maintaining its full 100 m performance – and it’s the only Category 6A cable that can make this claim. (Some cables become an 85 m solution if the temperature increase is too high.)


Even some current standards are now calling for it.


Direct Connect (MPTL)

As more devices are being installed in areas above the ceiling or on the wall, traditional connection methods need to change. Last year, TIA approved a topology known as “modular plug terminated link” (MPTL), or what we like to call “direct connect.” This allows the horizontal cable to be terminated on one end to an RJ45 plug that connects directly to a device. This simplifies installation time and costs, promotes safety, creates a cleaner appearance and supports plenum applications.


Plenum-Rated Connectivity

Because many IoT devices are connecting above the ceiling for practicality and aesthetic purposes (think cameras, wireless access points and LED lighting fixtures, for example), the outlets, jacks and patch cords used in these applications must be plenum rated. Belden’s entire REVConnect Connectivity System line is UL 2043 rated for plenum spaces, giving you piece of mind that you’re using safe connectivity to connect any of your smart building devices, regardless of their location.


The REVConnect Connectivity System: Belden’s Solution to Smart Buildings Challenges



If you follow Belden on social media, you probably noticed the series of infographics we released this week. Every day, we revealed a little bit more about smart building challenges – and how REVConnect addresses them. If you missed our posts, the entire infographic is posted below.


Belden’s game-changing REVConnect Connectivity System supports smart buildings in a one-of-a-kind way by providing reliable, easy and versatile connections to your network.


In addition to jacks and plugs, the complete connectivity solution now includes:

  • Pre-Terminated Assemblies: The first pre-terminated cabling solution that can be used in enterprise LAN applications. Instead of an RJ45 jack, the cable end features a REVConnect core. A bundle of pre-terminated cable can now be pulled from the telecommunications room to a consolidation point and connected to an end device or workstation outlet jacket.

  • Preloaded Patch Panels: Install with a multi-pair tool while terminating from the front or rear with one hand. Cable-measuring features allow installers to use the space over ports to organize cables, dress to management accessories and measure the slack needed, mark cables and start terminating.

  • FlexPlugs: Support direct connections to any IoT device that uses an RJ45 plug. They can be deployed where typical field-terminated plugs can’t be used due to plug size and/or cable routing constraints. They also eliminate the need for a jack, biscuit box and patch cord for fast installation with fewer components.

  • Couplers: Support the fastest Category 6A termination possible and increase density, improve flexibility and reduce costs while maintaining reliability. The couplers are rated for 100W PoE applications and UL 2043 rated for plenum spaces. Bringing zero crosstalk, they add little noise to the channel and are essentially invisible.

  • 10GX Wall-Mount System: This high-density, flexible cross connect can be used to build large cross connects in data centers or interconnects in telecom rooms. Connector modules include couplers that exceed Category 6A performance. Instead of patch cords, the system uses cut-to-length management, which means no slack management is necessary, no necessary patch cord inventory is needed and per-port cost savings are achieved when you can recycle short pieces of leftover cable to create jumper cables.

The REVConnect Connectivity System can be used in applications like:

  • Building management
  • Cameras
  • Digital signage
  • HDBaseT/SDVoE
  • LED lighting
  • Nurse call
  • Occupancy sensors
  • Point-of-sale kiosks
  • Security and access control
  • Videoconferencing
  • VoIP phones
  • Wireless access points

Is REVConnect right for your next connectivity project to help solve smart building challenges? Find out here. It offers six unique, truly one-of-a-kind benefits to reduce rework, speed up installation and support emerging applications. And it’s unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced.