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To me, a key difference between a smart building and a building that lacks sophisticated connected infrastructure is like the difference between robust 4G and poor 3G. Just as a 4G network enhances the performance of every application and device connected to it, so too does a smart building’s network have a similar effect. The key point is that it’s not only the specific applications and systems that make a building smart; it’s also the underlying infrastructure.
Similarly, when we talk about smart building security, we’re really discussing the building’s ability to support a coordinated security strategy that involves multiple and diverse solutions. In today’s medium and large enterprises, these security solutions are likely to include a network of in-building and remote security cameras, biometric or card-sensing access control, fire and smoke detection, intelligent lighting and more. Historically, these systems have existed mostly independent of each other on multiple discrete networks. However, this paradigm increases cost and management requirements, while preventing building operators from realizing any tangible synergistic benefits.
In a smart building, systems co-exist on a single and converged low-voltage network. This means systems and devices intelligently share information to better safeguard the premises. Consider a catastrophic workplace emergency like a fire, in which people are trapped somewhere in the building.
The location of VoIP emergency calls can be identified using the facility mapping capabilities of an automated infrastructure management (AIM) system.
This is because the AIM system is part of the unifying structured cabling infrastructure that also feeds various systems in the building like wireless communications, security, fire alarm and safety, etc. Moreover, the AIM system maintains a record of the physical location of wired network devices (e.g. computers) and can identify if these devices are active at the time of an emergency. This information can be relayed to a public safety platform and accessed by first responders and recovery teams using the public safety frequency.
In my mind, the most important difference between outdated building security and smart building security is the ability to coordinate support between various connected systems via a single converged and intelligent infrastructure. CommScope has put together a short video that provides more information on how this works. Take a look. It’s the kind of “tip-of-the-spear thinking” we’re known for.