Get yourself connected

Cisco emphasisd the benefits of converging building controls as well as voice and data on to internet protocol (IP) at its Connected Real Estate roadshow in Dubai last month. Cisco sees IP infrastructure becoming an integral part of building design in the near future.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  December 22, 2004

Cisco emphasisd the benefits of converging building controls as well as voice and data on to internet protocol (IP) at its Connected Real Estate roadshow in Dubai last month. Cisco sees IP infrastructure becoming an integral part of building design in the near future. “The world is changing,” says Andrew Thomson, business development manager, construction, real estate & hospitality, Cisco EMEA. “In the same way as in the 1930s architects started to build in ducts for water lines and electricity, there will come a time when architects don’t design a building without connectivity fabric inside,” he explains. The roadshow brought together a host of Cisco partners including HP, Systimax and Bond Communications to discuss how converging building controls to the IP network can bring benefits to the property industry. “You get many opportunities when you converge voice and data with building controls on to the IP network,” says Thomson. “As well as cutting costs, the building owner can create additional revenue streams,” he adds. It is the cost factor that is most likely to appeal to property developers in the short term as the ability to create additional revenue streams relies on a host of other factors, such as the income of the tenants and the services they require. “The concept is that saving space equals saving money,” says Wes Tweedley, technical manager, Systimax. “In the traditional building, IT, building access systems (BAS) and security will each have a room or closet with equipment. With IP you can integrate these into one room, which allows you to give back real estate to the building. Buildings aren’t making their money from equipment sitting in a room, they’re making money from the space they can lease,” he explains. A further benefit of using IP is that the architecture is open and standards-based, meaning that the infrastructure is more scalable than the traditionally proprietary building controls protocols. BAS vendors themselves are gearing towards open architecture. Where there once was a multitude of proprietary protocols, there are two left — Backnet and Onetalk — with both of these connecting to IP via an interface. “Basically what we’re doing here, is making the migration process a simple one. If a user changes from one device to another, it’s a plug and play decision,” says Tweedley. Planning was also emphasised at the roadshow, as IP brings potentially bandwidth hungry applications alongside the traditionally low data rate devices most typically associated with buildings. A building owner needs to be able to forsee how much bandwidth he will require in the lifetime of the building. “Building devices typically have low data transmission, they only send signals to other devices,” says Tweedley. “Moving to things like IP cameras, things start to change, so bandwidth has to be considered very carefully depending on the applications that will be used. Planning is critical, if you miss the planning stage and get to construction, it’s too late as tenders have went out,” he adds. At the roadshow, the potential security headache of having all devices on one network was played down, with both Cisco and Systimax emphasising the reliability and resiliency of the IP network. “In an installation, you can use links in a mesh topology, so from a physical view you take different directions, which delivers redundancy on the backbone. In terms of resiliency on the network, if one switch goes down another dual honed switch will kick in,” says Tweedley.

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