Cable Management
for Smart Buildings

Cable Management for Smart Buildings

Introduction

Everywhere we go—in both commercial and residential buildings—we are encountering smart equipment and infrastructures. Recent challenges in the global business world have validated the investment owners and facilities teams have made in these forward-looking technologies that have served us so well during reduced business operations. Connected devices were put to the test during the historic disruption of 2020. Automated systems—which turned off lights and lowered power consumption, monitored activity and a host of other things when building spaces were unoccupied—are no longer a novelty. Instead, they have proven essential to efficient and secure functioning during these unforeseeable situations.

One facet that is finally tying smart technologies together is the intelligent deployment of cable management for smart buildings. According to some experts in the industry, like GlobeNewswire, the global demand for smart building technologies has just begun and is on the verge of an explosion of activity as both new construction and renovation continue. Back in 2019, the global smart building market had an estimated value of almost $50 billion and is now forecasted to reach over three times that ($125 billion) in less than a decade. These estimates may even be conservative as other businesses and technologies expand into the space.

The Anatomy of a Smart Building

Not unlike the human body, a smart building has its own anatomy that may be separated into various operations systems. For instance, there are processes that require no thinking or decision-making but demand a steady and uninterrupted performance of rote activity. This can be likened to autonomic processes that our body performs without conscious thinking on our part, such as breathing or pumping blood. Some devices or software have been developed to make decisions based upon information placed before them through the use of artificial intelligence. Now, we even have devices that have “learned how to learn” and can teach themselves to improve efficiency, very much like the brain.

However, the central nervous system is essential to the body, as it manages the complex task of delivering communications to any part of the body almost instantaneously. It serves to bring together and integrate all the separate functioning body parts to work as one unified process and, like the human body, it performs this without fanfare or excessive effort. It is merely the job, albeit extremely complex and detailed, that it was developed to perform.

Cable management for smart buildings can be considered the central nervous system, as it is ideal for instant communications and for monitoring how various devices are operating, ensuring there is no clash nor conflict.

Cable Management for Smart Buildings

With the maturity of smart buildings comes greater demands and expectations. Originally, smart buildings were considered to have performed admirably if they could monitor and manage energy usage, realizing significant savings through cutting unnecessary waste and consumption by reducing or turning off the heating and cooling outputs in less-populated areas of the structure.

Nowadays, such features are considered the bare minimum a smart building should offer. In fact, smart buildings now begin their job at the construction stage; construction firms are learning how to greatly decrease the carbon impact that often occurs while building the structure. This results in a better start out of the gate, as wastage has been reduced and energy efficiencies are now being integrated within the very structure of the smart building.

Smart Building Design: The Four Components to Optimize

Designers of smart buildings need to pay attention to four key components that will optimize the structure in terms of both long-term growth and continuing sustainability. Specifically, there are four key areas where designers want to fine-tune their expertise; by doing so, they will be able to maximize the efficiency, performance, and value of the smart buildings they are constructing.

Risk Management

Much of risk management boils down to proactive practices put into place along with a clear line of defensive actions ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice, First to know are the five crucial P’s established in video-surveillance cybersecurity:

The 5 P's of Cybersecurity

  • Password – of course, never use the default password provided by the manufacturer and keep your password complex and random
  • Permissions – limit network access controls only to authorized personnel
  • Platform – continuous monitoring of all connected devices can set off alarms when unauthorized devices intrude the system
  • People – ensuring you have knowledgeable and competent technicians also ensures the stability of your cybersecurity
  • Probe – test for and protect against cybersecurity vulnerabilities like unauthorized software modifications or firmware flaws

On a larger and broader scale, you must not only commit the 5 Ds of Defense to memory, but it must become ingrained into the very fiber of your being. These five actions are designed to thwart any security threat you may encounter and as you will see, actions may vary depending upon the type and severity of risk you are encountering:

The 5 D's of Defense

  • Deter – this should be your primary focus, as this anticipates potential threats and already has protective mechanisms in place to stop any threatened action before it can even occur
  • Detect – while deterrence should always be your first line of defense, you cannot anticipate every possible threat, so you want detection systems in place to alert you of such situations
  • Defend – sometimes a threat sneaks in undetected, in which case a defense system needs to be in place to protect assets and to hopefully isolate and detain the threat until professionals arrive to eliminate it
  • Delay – another tactic employed to frustrate a would-be intrusion is to perform actions that can delay deeper penetration; a physical example would be automatically locking doors that keep an intruder in custody until law enforcement arrives
  • Deny – the next step up from delay tactics are outright denials; in such cases, extra reinforcements are erected, frustrating intrusion attempts and using up valuable time for making an escape

Clearly, competent and effective risk management is a cornerstone of a fully secured and functional smart building; once expertise in assessing and reducing risks is developed, many of those skills are translatable to smart devices, meaning risk management can be integrated within an intelligently designed smart building.

Network Performance

Our internal business networks are really microcosms of the way the human race relates and interacts with each other. When communications are clear and timely, the workforce stays on track and focused, resulting in top performances as a normal way of getting the job done. Such a philosophy points to a strong need for reliable and quality networks. While many laypersons believe wireless connectivity to be of the greatest value and versatility, such connections are better served when meeting appropriate needs, such as the worker on the move or out in the field.

However, when it comes to intelligently and powerfully equipping a smart building, experts look to Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology for the best results as measured in reliability, speed, and accuracy. This technology lets smart buildings maximize their own performance by simultaneously delivering electric power and valuable data on the same physical cable system. PoE offers a plethora of benefits to any network using the technology, including:

PoE Benefits

  • Enhanced Data Collection – due to its robust nature, PoE is perfect for collecting data on smart building operations, such as identifying unoccupied spaces and ongoing energy usage that can be throttled
  • Flexibility – because of its plug-and-play nature, PoE is ideal for devices that are changing environments, adding or removing devices, or expanding network functionality through the addition of new equipment and systems
  • Lowered Costs – instead of requiring certified electricians, PoE can be installed with equally competent and trained, yet lower cost, technicians; overall, PoE installation costs are much lower than traditional electrical wiring while offering data and power delivery in one cable
  • Safety – instead of multiple cables hooking into outlets, where you sooner or later run out of outlets in which to plug devices, PoE generates all its power source from one outlet; this reduces possible loss through power outages as compared to depending on power from multiple outlets
  • Scalability – with PoE, no longer do you have to tally up available plug outlets to see if all your devices can be accommodated; with a PoE network, there is always room for another device without worrying about delivering the necessary power to it

With the following PoE devices, you are empowered to do virtually anything with your network:

Planet PoE Devices

  • PoE Extenders – by the use of PoE extenders, there is no physical limit as to where you can place any of your devices; with zero installation costs, this simple plug-and-play PoE device is a snap to add to any spot in your smart building
  • PoE Hubs – adding varying amounts of power to accommodate different device demands is a breeze with a PoE hub; even better, no extra cables or difficult installations makes this the logical choice for many expansion options
  • PoE Industrial Ethernet – not all environments are gentle or easy on equipment unless that is, you look to PoE industrial Ethernet solutions; these units are constructed to resist the most difficult conditions without missing a beat in their operations
  • PoE Injectors and Splitters – when space is a premium, PoE injectors and splitters are an elegant solution that involves minimal installation time since there isn’t any need for any additional cabling
  • PoE Switches – perfect for accessing only the power needed but never limiting the demands of any given device, PoE switches can offer anywhere from 4 to 54 ports and speeds up to 10G SFP+ for the ultimate in swift communications

Of course, every detail deserves attention and top solutions, which is why selecting the right Ethernet cables is never as simple as going online and finding the cheapest provider of PoE cables. Whenever shopping for PoE cables, the following features will ensure you are acquiring quality PoE cables that will adequately serve your network demands:

  • Manufacturer – it never makes sense to choose an unrecognized manufacturer of PoE cables just to save a few bucks; almost always, those savings evaporate in underperforming PoE networks with the ultimate result of replacing inadequate cabling
  • Plenum Rated – if you see a Plenum rating on your cable, you can rest assured that this PoE cable uses a low-flame, low-smoke insulation process that reduces the risk of fire dangers in air handling spaces and emits less toxic smoke in the unlikely event of a fire

  • Pure Copper Wires – one price-saving shortcut some manufacturers employ is replacing pure copper wiring with copper-clad aluminum; such a shortcut results in reduced quality, which is unacceptable for any serious PoE network
  • TIA/IED Standards – the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has established standards for telecom products and services in commercial structures and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets standards to protect consumers; you want manufacturers that adhere to both TIA and IEC standards
  • UL Badges – Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to safety in science with an eye towards improving and maintaining public safety; the UL badges testify as to the quality of the product you are purchasing

UL Badges

Remember that, as the central nervous system of your smart building, you want only the highest quality and most reliable devices and equipment at your service.

Workforce Productivity

The purpose of any workplace is to facilitate the productivity of the workers occupying such a space. Too often this concept gets lost in the larger picture when paying attention to optimizing the internal operations of a smart building, such as observing empty spaces and shutting off energy to such inactive areas.

Everyone wants to learn the secret to unlocking peak performances in their workforce, but it may not be as secretive as one might imagine. Smart businesses understand the necessity of structuring environments conducive to higher productivity levels, with a focus on boosting individual and group performances with these techniques:

  • Acknowledge Great Work – by giving kudos to outstanding performance, you not only provide positive support and encourage repeat performances, you clearly illustrate to the entire workforce what is needed to do a great job
  • Build Workplace Connections – your environment should be one of collaboration instead of competition; remember, the competition is out there, not within the ranks of the workforce
  • Inspire Your Workforce – everyone knows that when a team of workers gets fired up with inspiration, little can slow them down in reaching their goals; even major obstacles become exciting challenges for them to surmount instead of being seen as impossible tasks
  • Quality Leadership – if you seek excellence in your workforce, then you need to exude excellence in your own work habits; it’s hard to demand more of your workforce than you do of yourself, so set the example you want to see from your people
  • Reduce Meeting Times – it is always with the greatest intention that meetings are scheduled, but all too often meetings take longer than expected with less accomplished than desired; always establish firm and short starting and ending times for any meeting and watch performance improve
  • Tap Into Technology – take advantage of your smart building technology by creating and delivering reports on productivity; this information can prove extremely valuable in enlightening your workforce of both missed and prospective opportunities

With these primary principles of workforce productivity in mind, smart buildings can pick up the pace and offer support through better space management, clear and relevant reporting, and even overseeing meeting times by flashing lights a minute before the scheduled end of meetings.

Building Internet of Things (BIoT)

Smart buildings offer the perfect opportunity for bringing together all the disparate devices capable of communicating with others but not yet taking advantage of such capabilities; this is simply because there is no “central nervous system” to which these devices can attach, such as you will find with intelligent cable management for smart buildings.

By deliberately integrating the BIoT concept within the very fabric of the smart building design, you move beyond mere smartness and evolve into an articulate, well-informed, highly functional smart building better capable of its own levels of peak performance. It makes complete sense that, just as with the sentient workforce in whom you invest the future of your enterprise, a smart building should be taught to set realistic but optimal goals; the idea of a smart building learning from the peak performance experience of its human counterparts and developing its own self-improvement program is not at all farfetched. It is the natural outgrowth of intelligent and informed learning, something all smart structures already know and apply in their everyday activities.

Already, the BIoT is generating savings and shrinking carbon footprints through improved energy efficiencies; likewise, security is a known process easily managed and maintained. It appears to be the next natural and logical stage in the evolution of BIoT to also participate more actively in less tangible but equally, if not more, important than running an efficient building; namely, taking on the important task of positively influencing workforce productivity as already outlined in the previous section.

Successful Cable Management for Smart Buildings Begins at Planet Technology USA

When making the investment in smart building design, you want to be comprehensive enough to consider the larger picture of the PoE network while not overlooking the seemingly little things, like using quality materials, beginning with cables, hubs, and other basic equipment. At Planet Technology USA, we know how you can truly empower your own Power over Ethernet solutions: by starting with quality materials that will support and grow your network and business. We invite you to contact us so you can get up to speed; we can help you form intelligent answers to your network concerns and show you how with PoE, you have the power and flexibility for your network to go wherever your business wants to lead it. Instead of being harnessed by an unwieldy network, we can demonstrate how PoE can deliver the flexibility for growth and adaptation of your network into the core of your smart building design.