By Chris Grundy
For an increasing number of organisations the IT department manages IT, smart phones, audio visual, and CCTV/Access control due to convergence of technology enabled via:
- Applications operating over mobile/IP based networks
- Powering devices over IT data networks using Power over Ethernet (PoE).
This convergence is set to continue, with products such as lighting systems that use PoE.
What does this mean for how buildings are managed? Will the IT department bridge a skills gap and replace building managers or will organisations that use IT to drive their property strategy/management excel? The answer is the latter and demonstrated by some examples:
Security (CCTV/Access Control/Smart cards)
The IT department might not be managing building security, but they are enabling value through an IT design approach such as:
- Data centre hosted services avoiding silo’s for organisations with multiple properties
- Linking security and other databases to create ‘smart’ multi-function cards (access/vend/print/lockers)
Building Management Systems
Buildings and BMS systems are becoming targets for cyber-attacks, the IT department can help to review information flows, review risk and enhance a BMS design to mitigate against potential attack. Some IT departments are taking ownership of the BMS network and data, helping to reduce operational risk. After all, many BMS networks have no IT security features or anybody pro-actively monitoring them.
Data based decision making
Perhaps one of the biggest impacts IT can have on building design is through data capture and quantitative decision making. If an organisation is planning to move their office, measuring utilisation of their existing space in real-time prior to commencing a new office design will provide useful insight into how space is actually used.
Some organisations are installing space utilisation technology as part of their new office fit-out, and getting small aggregate gains once in occupation (if they have the capex to act on changes in layout). Use as part of the design tool and the impact will be far greater.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is the second power distribution system in a modern building. Some data centres use servers that operate with DC power supplies (rather than AC to DC conversion) for efficiency. Could DC power replace 230V AC in future buildings – probably not – as there are many real world scenarios to overcome, including the need for devices to work both in and out of the office/building. However, the use of PoE is set to increase for devices that are fixed within a building.
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