Driven by the need to support rapidly growing populations, Smart Cities are gaining momentum in the Middle East. A fundamental component of any smart city is the intelligent building. Prem Rodrigues, director of sales and marketing for Middle East, India and SAARC at Siemon, answers some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding intelligent buildings and converged, integrated building infrastructures, including benefits, capabilities and the place they take in the wider scheme of smart cities.
What makes a building ‘intelligent’?
Compared to ‘traditional’ buildings, intelligent buildings are driven by intelligent systems. These systems integrate and control all elements of an office digitally: such as allocating work areas and conference rooms; controlling lighting, auto cooling or heating of occupied workspace; operating digital security systems and centralised control; and providing wireless access to employees and guests etc. Intelligent buildings have advanced systems and sensor technology to monitor, collect and analyse information from a variety of building systems and their devices. In this way, intelligent systems provide an environment that is measurable, controllable and green.
What is the present state of the smart building ecosystem in the Middle East market and which complementary manufacturers are offering products in this space?
Intelligent buildings can’t be achieved without an eco-system of complementary manufacturer partners and Siemon is working closely with many manufacturers to build and grow an ecosystem of partners in the Middle East. Siemon is a partner in Cisco’s Digital Ceiling Community which aims to extend the benefits of IoT throughout facilities via multiple converged building networks. Siemon also has great engagement with leading manufacturers in the PoE Lighting sphere, including Philips and Cree as well as manufacturers in the stream of physical security, building management systems.
What is the enabling technology behind an intelligent building?
Intelligent buildings rely on IP convergence and on the concept of using a single IP network for support of data, voice, video and low-voltage building systems. Intelligent buildings thereby take advantage of a structured cabling system that converges these data, voice, video and low-voltage building systems onto a single unified network infrastructure. In addition, low-voltage remote powering technology, such as Power over Ethernet (PoE), can be integrated. PoE utilises the copper balanced twisted-pair IT cabling infrastructure to deliver DC power to IP-enabled devices such as IP phones, security cameras and access systems.
What are the business benefits that converged, integrated building systems bring to building owners and operators?
There is a multitude of benefits that converged, integrated building systems can deliver. Economic benefits include reduced capital and operational expenditure. Using a single unified cabling solution replaces as many as eight or nine different systems, each having proprietary wiring, connectors, pathways and service experts.
As a result, converged, integrated building systems lower labour costs as well as the volume and the cost of material at the point of installation. The deployment of universal connectivity and cable also facilitates less costly moves, additions and changes and the ability of systems to communicate via common protocols improves security. A further aspect is energy consumption which can be lowered by up to 50%. Not only does this contribute to reduced operational expenses but also adds green benefits along with the reduction of waste due to reduced materials.
Overall, the integration of multiple systems, enables information to be shared between systems and utilised to improve overall building control and management. As a result, facilities can optimise operations and maintenance. The overall building environment is enhanced and customer and employee satisfaction, health and productivity is improved.
What are the advantages of remote power delivery and what are typical PoE-enabled devices connected to the building network today?
The ability to deliver remote power over the copper cabling infrastructure to IP-enabled devices leads to substantial cost savings in an intelligent building. First of all, it reduces the number of power runs in the building because the end device doesn’t need to be powered locally from an AC power outlet any longer. Less power runs mean less installation work, including reduced material cost and associated labour costs. And if less material is being installed on day one, less will have to be disposed of later on, reducing waste and disposal costs.
Secondly, PoE creates substantial energy savings, because fewer AC to DC conversion losses lead to reduced power consumption. PoE is also considered a Safety Extra-Low Voltage (SELV) application with Direct Current (DC) levels that pose no safety risk when these systems are deployed or upgraded.
Today, more and more PoE-enabled devices are connected to the network and include IP phones, security cameras and access control devices, Wi-Fi access points, RFID tag readers, POS machines, building automation devices and LED lighting. PoE continues to advance and higher-power delivery applications are being developed. The emerging IEEE P802.3bt Type 3 60W and Type 4 90W PoE for example will enable support of thin client, desktop, IPTV, biometric sensors and larger mobile devices.
What is required from the cabling infrastructure for optimum support of PoE applications?
Building owners and operators are often not aware that remote power delivery leads to temperature rise in cable bundles and electrical arcing damage to connector contacts, which negatively impacts performance. Therefore, the cabling infrastructure needs to enable improved heat dissipation and provide more thermally stable performance at elevated temperatures. Shielded Category 6A and Category 7A copper cabling solutions are best suited here. In addition, connecting hardware should be fully compliant with IEC-60512-99-001 standards that specify the maximum allowable resistance change that mated connections can exhibit when subjected to insertion and removal cycles under PoE load.
How can intelligent buildings eventually enable the smart city?
Intelligent buildings form the foundation of smart cities. However, a smart city can only operate as such if intelligent buildings are interconnected to each other in a strategic manner. It is therefore necessary that building owners and operators (both public and private) commence their intelligent building projects as part of a larger ecosystem of stakeholders, supported by a collaborative environment, government backing and shared common objectives. Intelligent buildings that are designed and built in this way will enable smart cities to develop more rapidly, efficiently and successfully.
What solutions portfolio does Siemon offer in support of intelligent building initiatives?
With ConvergeIT Siemon offers a unified intelligent building cabling solution that combines Siemon’s proven quality with advanced copper and fibre cabling technology to create a structured cabling system that converges critical data, voice, video and low-voltage building systems onto a single unified physical infrastructure. ConvergeIT provides significant cost savings and sustainability over the life of the facility.
With remote powering applications demanding more from the structured cabling system, Siemon offers Z-MAX shielded Category 6A and TERA Category 7A cabling solutions that are qualified for mechanical reliability up to 75°C (167°F) to ensure superior heat dissipation in remote powering applications. Siemon’s Z-MAX, MAX RJ-45 and TERA connectors comply with IEC 60512-99-001 and offer a special ‘crowned’ contact geometry that places arcing damage to plug and connector contacts away from the fully mated position to maintain reliable, stable connections.
In addition, Siemon’s Z-PLUG field terminated plug offers an innovative approach to connecting IP-enabled devices in intelligent buildings. Z-PLUG delivers custom-length cables that can be terminated on site. They enable fast and easy direct connections to devices that do not require outlets and patch cords, such as Wi-Fi access points, security cameras, LED lights, distributed antenna systems, building automation devices and other IP-based and PoE-enabled devices.