Benefits and challenges of smart building technologies
As commercial real estate investors and developers begin to embrace smart building technologies for a host of cost and process efficiency reasons, choosing the right wireless access technology for a secure smart sensor and device connectivity becomes paramount.
Smart building technologies help optimize spaces, add additional layers of occupant safety and create new cost efficiencies. Examples include connected HVAC systems, temperature/humidity/air quality sensors, surveillance cameras, door controllers and inter-building communications.
Because of the wide range of smart building use cases, multi-tenant buildings require the utmost in flexibility as tenants come and go and spaces need to dynamically adjust to meet the needs of current occupants.
Thus, smart building IoT sensors and connected users/devices must be as flexible as the environment they are operating in. For this reason, building owners are concluding that cutting the network cord and going wireless is the only realistic option from a smart building network connectivity standpoint.
When the topic of in-building wireless connectivity arises, most IT administrators naturally look to Wi-Fi technologies to solve their wireless access needs. The problem, however, is that Wi-Fi within commercial spaces already serves so many purposes that piling on mission-critical smart building technologies is not the best choice for a variety of reasons including:
- Over-utilized Wi-Fi networks and neighbor networks
- Wireless interference in the 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz unlicensed spectrums
- Lack of strict quality of service (QoS) for mission-critical traffic prioritization
Because of these inherent issues, early adopters of smart building technologies have determined that digital building services, health and safety and in-building communications technologies dictate the need for a separate wireless network to ensure operational consistency and reliability.
This is why some smart building deployments have leveraged alternative wireless solutions such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee wireless mesh and 900 MHz to connect smart building technologies with slightly less risk of network congestion or interference.
But while switching to one or more of these wireless systems for smart building connectivity may solve one problem, it creates others including the fact that data throughput is slow, scalability is limited, and the disaggregated platforms can become expensive and cumbersome to manage.
A Celona private LTE or 5G network becomes the recipe for success
Within commercial buildings, public cellular services are used regularly for both business and personal use. By design, cellular LTE and5G signal propagates well within buildings – and that penetration can be bolstered through the deployment of building-wide distributed antenna systems (DAS).
While public cellular data networks make for an ideal wireless access medium for smart building deployments, concerns over data security / privacy, traffic prioritization and high metered cost structures quickly eliminate carrier LTE/5G from wide-spread use.
But what if you could achieve all the coverage and speed benefits of public LTE/5G networks while also eliminating all the cost and security drawbacks? A multi-national technology provider for smart buildings have done just that by investing in Celona's private mobile network.
Using the same carrier-grade hardware, software and protocols, a Celona network was quickly and cost effectively deployed throughout a building using only a fraction the number of access points compared to a relevant smart building Wi-Fi network.
Because Celona private LTE and 5G networks operate on the heavily coordinated Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the US and utilize private spectrum options available in other countries, all wireless communication is free from external interference and is under the building IT departments’ operational control.
Additionally, because cellular technologies use SIM-based authentication for network access control, building owners and IT staff can be confident that tenants, users and non-critical devices cannot access the Celona private mobile network.
Finally, instead of using disparate, outdated and somewhat obscure wireless access technologies such as BLE, Zigbee and 900 MHz, an end-to-end Celona private mobile network can be centrally managed and offer unprecedented visibility and control over per-application data streams.
This is accomplished using Celona’s patent-pending MicroSlicing™ technology that identifies and tracks traffic flows in real-time. MicroSlicing then allows administrators to apply strict service level agreement (SLA) performance policy across the wireless network. Doing so ensures preferential treatment for the most critical and latency-sensitive smart building data streams such as surveillance camera video footage or security/facilities voice communications.
In a multi-tenant smart building, a Celona network can be instructed to apply specific network access rules and service level agreements (SLA) to different tenants by enforcing different MicroSlicing policies. These MicroSlicing policies can be adjusted dynamically as new tenants come and go.
Smart building technologies demand resilient wireless network transport
Building owners and managers are only scratching the surface when it comes to what smart building and IoT technologies can do from an operational, safety and cost savings perspective. In time, reliance on these technologies will continue to increase. But to achieve the benefits of these types of digital systems in multi-tenant buildings, it requires a network that is flexible, fast, secure and easy to manage. While other wired and wireless technologies may be able to achieve one or two of these needs, only a Celona private LTE/5G network can deliver on the promise.
See the Celona solution in action by tuning in for an on-demand demo, request a custom demo or a free trial. And, to keep in touch with the rest of our community of customers, ecosystem and technology partners, join us at the Frequency Community.