Digital buildings are making sure that much more than our computers and smartphones are Internet-enabled. They’re using smart sensors to identify and locate “things” (or devices), determine the environmental conditions surrounding these “things” and then sending that data to the cloud. These sensors make the Internet come alive, giving it a brain, eyes and ears – even a voice.
This “smart Internet” is connecting our things and devices (and the data they capture) with our needs and desires. This helps us make decisions and automates routine, everyday tasks so we’re free to focus on things only a “human” can handle.
Creating this smart Internet also protects us against potential problems. It can keep tabs on temperature, pressure, vibration, light, humidity and physical activity levels, and notify us of any unexpected or abnormal changes.
Here’s just one way that the smart Internet can support a digital building:
You walk into your smart office on Tuesday morning at 8:04am; the room is already set at the perfect temperature for you, because it knows your working habits and preferences (thanks to the smart Internet, which has been using sensors and devices to monitor your office environment and make changes accordingly). Your computer has been turned on, waiting for you to login; the task light on your desk is also on because your office knows that the first thing you do is read through paperwork in the morning. The window shades have automatically been lowered to reduce glare from the sun. Once the sun is high enough that the glare won’t bother you, the task light will automatically turn off and the window shades will open.
Your treadmill desk awaits, where it features exercise metrics and sets a pace that will fluctuate throughout the day based on the mix of calls and heads-down work on your schedule. When you leave your office and head down the hall for your 10am staff meeting, your computer automatically logs you out, your task light shuts off and your phone switches to “away” mode. Sensors in your office detected that you left, and the smart Internet communicates this information to various devices that know what to do when you’re away.
At lunchtime, you receive a call that the repairman has arrived at your home to take a look at your smart oven. You can see and communicate with him in real time via your smartphone and home security system; after verifying, you provide him with access to the house by virtually unlocking your front door. The repairman can ask you any questions he needs to as he works on replacing the broken heating element in your oven (which you discovered after receiving a text from your oven about the problem).
That afternoon, you need to talk to your boss about a business trip – good timing, because you just received a notification that he entered the building. Once your conversation is over, you head out to your car. It notifies you that the highway you normally take is down to one lane for roadwork. This warning helps you find an alternate route.
On the way home, you stop by the store for milk and eggs; your smart refrigerator sent you a message yesterday that you were low on both items. As you arrive home, your smart driveway recognizes your car pulling up – and the fact that it’s raining outside – and opens the garage door so you can park inside.
As you can tell from that story, Internet-enabled devices are constantly collecting and relaying information in real time, telling us about everything they see and hear.
As our lives become more intertwined with big data, IoT and smart sensors, performance and uptime are network must-haves. Although most of these devices are wireless, it takes a robust cable infrastructure to provide the foundation from which all of these devices can connect and communicate.
More wireless access points (WAPs) are needed for the devices to connect – and that means more cable will be needed to support them. In this type of digital building environment, a downed network means much more than lack of Internet access – downtime prevents you from accessing information you’ve come to rely on throughout your day.
The possibility of downtime continues to increase as more devices join your network. Are the devices secure? Does the network offer enough bandwidth to support these devices? Is the cabling infrastructure designed to support their power and data needs? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then a digital building can’t operate as designed.
When it comes to the type of cable that can successfully support smart Internet and the components of a digital building’s enterprise wireless network, consider your network’s long-term efficiency. To make your network as efficient as possible, selecting a cable that can support the highest data throughput and highest power delivery is key. For this reason, standards documents that are evolving to support the smart Internet recommend the use of Category 6A.
Category 6A cabling offers full multi-gigabit implementation and higher cable uplink speeds, and can transmit higher power wattages – which is crucial, since many IoT devices rely on Power over Ethernet (where power and data are provided over one cable) to function. Cabling with a single pair is being considered for connecting IoT sensors. Within the draft of the standard, Category 6A cabling is selected to define a structured cabling topology to support four end devices per run.
Throughout his career Stephane has worked in the telecommunications industry; in R&D, product management, training and marketing. Since 2014, Stephane as Director Technology and Applications is focusing on technology roadmap and ideation, networking applications and trends, and standards engagement.