“The heat of many industry topics from last year will continue in 2019. The development of data and Internet of Things (IoT), wireless connectivity and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) and cabling technologies and standards will be the three major drivers of change in the smart building sector. The development of smart buildings lays the foundation for smart campuses and smart cities, and the above-mentioned driving forces are also advancing the integration and corresponding preparations.
Wu Jian, Technical Director of CommScope North Asia
The heat of many industry topics from last year will continue in 2019. The development of data and Internet of Things (IoT), wireless connectivity and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) and cabling technologies and standards will be the three major drivers of change in the smart building sector. The development of smart buildings lays the foundation for smart campuses and smart cities, and the above-mentioned driving forces are also advancing the integration and corresponding preparations.
Data is the key to enabling transformation
Last year, CommScope discussed the importance of “convergence” in the transition from smart building to smart building. However, with the advent of the Internet of Things, it is not just about the integration of networks and connectivity, but also the technologies that complement them. For example, IoT sensors can detect vast amounts of data of all kinds that we currently do not have access to, but will need in the near future.
Moving from smart building to smart building requires taking all the data provided by these new systems (many of which have not yet been deployed) as well as all the data from the building’s legacy systems and making decisions based on that data to optimize the building operation and maintenance.
We can make some predictions about how the work will unfold, but we don’t know exactly how it will play out in the future. The best advice CommScope can offer business owners is to build systems and infrastructure that can capture data and that are flexible enough to accommodate new systems that will be introduced in the future. The best strategy is to enable buildings to generate as much data as possible to have the flexibility needed for future analytics platforms to be able to react ahead of time without guessing which analytics solution the market will adopt in the future.
As the Internet of Things continues to evolve and generate data, manufacturers and suppliers also provide basic connectivity, data collection, and technology convergence by offering a wide variety of devices. Some of these devices that have successfully achieved ultra-low latency with wireless and wired networks will increasingly adopt MEC, and their computing and storage capabilities will also be closer to the network edge. Also, while many IoT devices, such as sensors, may not require high bandwidth, all devices need to be connected to a network. As a result, the demand for wireless connectivity in buildings, whether from WiFi or cellular networks, will continue to grow, and the upcoming 5G will fuel this trend. Taking the actual use of 5G as an example, to support the increase in throughput per unit user from 1 Gbps to 7-8 Gbps, commercial building owners must upgrade their current Cat5e Ethernet infrastructure to Cat6A. This is because 5G technology using higher frequency bands cannot penetrate walls well, so building owners need to deploy Cat6A infrastructure to enable indoor wireless systems to support 5G.
Advances in Cabling Technology and Standards
As mentioned above, the development trend of wireless will determine the needs of building wiring, and power consumption is another factor that determines the change of the building. For example, in September 2018, the IEEE 802.3bt standard was defined as the latest four-pair Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard, which simultaneously introduced two additional power Type C Type 3 at up to 55W and Type 4 at 90W . Therefore, we can predict that there will be more devices powered by structured cabling than the increase in bandwidth.
Global standards such as these will become increasingly important in an increasingly global market. After all, different regions have different requirements. However, with a standards-based technical approach and implementation, as well as the global reach and cultural awareness of institutions such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), companies will be able to compete on a relatively level playing field, while still maintaining sufficient flexibility to accommodate regional differences.
Many operators are already moving forward with the convergence of wireless and wireline, and this trend will continue. As wireless networks become more ubiquitous, they require a corresponding wired infrastructure to implement technologies such as backhaul. The development of PoE technology mentioned above will facilitate the convergence between power supply and bandwidth, and building automation solutions such as automated infrastructure management, or AIM for short, will also converge with wired networks. Such solutions are typically connected via proprietary links, but in the future we can expect to see more shifts to Ethernet-based connections, whether wired or wireless.
While a good portion of the trends featured in this article have already been explored in 2018, we believe 2019 will be a year of full preparations until these trends fully arrive. Whether laying the groundwork for wireless and wired infrastructure, data analytics, or in-building cabling, decisions for smart buildings need to take into account technological developments over the next 20 years. The continuous development of technologies such as the Internet of Things, 5G, and MEC, as well as the introduction of the new PoE standard, all reflect the rapid change of technology, and it is still difficult to accurately predict the future. Therefore, only the preparation of the infrastructure can maximize the necessary flexibility for the development of future technologies and applications.
The development of smart buildings, smart parks and smart cities
We see preparations for this transformation starting in the building sector, and then gradually developing into smart campuses and even smart cities. In fact, there is a certain degree of integration between smart buildings, smart parks and smart cities. The evolution of buildings from smart to smart is being extended in smart parks. In fact, smart parks consist of multiple buildings or a multi-functional commercial center, which also represents the ultimate example of “convergence”. For example, a smart building will perform operations based on information provided by systems within the building, while a smart campus will perform operations based on information provided by each building. Connecting buildings with Wi-Fi or fiber optics can make decisions about water, electricity, and more for the wider community. By building these networks and continually integrating them, we can support larger-scale decision-making based on the vast amounts of data generated. Like the processes that operate in buildings and campuses, this will all be incorporated into smart city systems, and the data and information collected will be used to provide smart services and provide security to citizens in smart cities.
Building owners and managers will need to fully prepare their infrastructure in 2019 to address the impact of trends in data and IoT, as well as wireless and wired. We can expect to see further integration of infrastructure and technology in smart buildings, smart campuses and smart cities.