Chris Dyke, sales director, UK & Ireland, Allied Telesis asks what makes a smart building?

As an ideal, a smart building would be like a living organism. A fully integrated approach, with a converged network at the centre, a smart building should enable energy and carbon saving as well as provide the best possible living and working environment for the people who inhabit it. It should create an environment which makes the users feel comfortable, safe, and able to be productive.

We ask a lot from our smart buildings, so what are the elements required?

Harmony challenge

The challenge for facilities managers is being able to efficiently access all the systems that affect a building’s environment. To illustrate just how complex this can be, the components that are required to work in harmony include sensors (typically indoor air quality, people counting, light levels and noise levels as well as temperature and humidity from the BMS system), security systems, fire monitoring and alarm panels, energy management, plumbing and water monitoring. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

What managers need, is to monitor all these systems centrally so that they can maintain the building at expected performance levels. The solution includes a converged network, integrated FDD (fault detection and diagnosis) and centralised alarms.

Converged network benefits

Running both IT and OT systems over a single converged IP network helps optimise systems, eliminate duplication, and lower operating costs. A smart building’s network should itself be smart, with built-in fault tolerance, debugging tools and the ability to self-heal. Automated alerts about minor issues enable them to be dealt with quickly to prevent them turning into major outages.

With IT and OT systems on the same network, reliability and security are crucial. It important to note that a converged IP network addresses concerns about an increased OT attack surface. It does this by boosting a firewall’s capabilities to create a ‘self-defending network’, which automatically identifies suspect activity such as login attempts from unusual devices, repeated failed user logins, and odd network activity.

The beating heart is a centralised system

At the heart of a truly smart building should be a single pane of glass encompassing FDD, CMMS, alarm management and automatic building tuning. This is an intelligent application that controls all the IT and OT systems on the converged IP network. It collects and processes information from otherwise siloed systems and connects them into one cohesive ecosystem. Facilities managers can still use each system individually but also centrally monitor and control through the single pane of glass. In this way it reduces a building’s energy use and reduces its carbon footprint and environmental impact.

The right partnership

Modern buildings need to work hard in terms of energy efficiency, lower power consumption, and solid safety and security. This is achieved through a converged IP network and integrated BMS, which share and act upon data-driven insights from the many end devices, sensors and systems in a smart building. Look for a network partner experienced in providing secure resilient, always-on networks that underpin smart building operations.