Yearly Archives - 2019

PoE and Digital Transformation in the Workplace: Outlook for 2020

PoE and Digital Transformation in the Workplace: Outlook for 2020

In TechTarget's IT Priorities Survey (2019), about 70% of respondents (IT experts) said they are adopting digital transformation. Nearly 50% of them said they were already undertaking formal projects toward digitization. Also, the respondents answered questions about their intended budgetary allocations to achieve technological transformation. According to the survey, digitization budgets, objectives, and strategies differ from organization to organization.

Why are Companies Pursuing Digital Transformation?

The survey highlighted the key drivers of digital transformation as follows:
  1. Streamlining operations and processes (47%)
  2. Enhancing worker performance and productivity (47%)
  3. Improving customer experience and brand loyalty (43%)
  4. Product or service innovation (40%)
  5. Satisfying compliance and security requirements (36%)
  6. Time to market improvement (28%)
  7. Better customer analytics (23%)
  8. Closing skills gap/new talent acquisition (19%)
The IT professionals acknowledged the significance of a digital workplace in the attainment of strategic company goals.Smart Office Market Size by 2025 From a digital perspective, workplaces are increasingly getting smarter, and Power Over Ethernet (PoE) is an important driver of this transformation. A 2018 Grand View Research report estimates that the smart office market size will hit about US$57 billion by 2025. The study closely ties the digital revolution in workplaces to technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT). Going forward, the IoT will play an increasingly bigger role in the development of the connected office, according to the Grand View Research report. Through network connectivity and sensors, the technology will continue enabling the interconnection of physical devices that are vital to digital transformation in the office. The report anticipates increased adoption of the following smart office hardware components toward 2025:
  1. HVAC control systems
  2. Smart lighting
  3. Security systems
  4. Energy management systems
  5. Audio-video conferencing systems

The Role of PoE in Digital Transformation in 2020

According to Leviton, the PoE revolution that started a few years ago continues through 2019. With the recently released IEEE 802.3bt standard, the technology delivers power and data over four pairs instead of only two. The development is a major boost to the PoE transformation that's already underway in business offices today.PoE Shipped in the Next 5 Years This change means PoE will be able to support more devices that require higher power. For this reason — along with the rise of the Internet of Things — more than 700 million PoE-enabled Ethernet switch ports and 280 million PoE devices are expected to ship in the next five years, according to market research firm Dell'Oro. In a Leviton poll of networking professionals, respondents were asked which PoE use cases they thought would grow the most in the next three years. Fifty percent of the experts attributed the bulk of potential PoE growth to smart lighting in commercial buildings. About 29% pointed to building controls, while 19% said Wireless Access Points (WAPs) constituted the largest share of growing PoE applications in the short-term. According to the white paper "The Role of Power over Ethernet in Copper Network Growth" by Leviton, enterprise wireless data is growing at an unprecedented rate. WAP will keep escalating in the coming years, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in the office are partly responsible for this trend. The use of video conferencing and voice over wireless networks is also expected to grow beyond 2020. The white paper projected a 79% annual increase in sensor installation in PoE-powered smart workplaces between 2015 and 2020. The technology will power a broad spectrum of intelligent building applications, such as building management systems and security/access controls. In 2020, the number of LED luminaries may reach 260 million. PoE will deliver power to a large proportion of these devices.

Key Drivers of PoE Adoption in the Workplace

The Leviton white paper explains five major reasons for the increasing adoption of PoE in workspaces: 1. Cost SavingsReduce Office Energy Savings by half Organizations will be turning to PoE to power their digital technologies and reduce installation and maintenance costs. The approach is cheaper than setting up traditional data infrastructure (cabling) and AC power sources. According to recent studies, the combination of efficient PoE design and smart building systems can reduce energy wastage in the office by half.   2. Enhanced Network Control Networked PoE devices are easier to manage from a centralized point. The centralization of control helps to minimize human error and risks substantially. Non-networked hardware drawing power from line voltage and supported by onsite personnel is error-prone. Downtime in non-PoE networks can cost a business organization between $1 million and $60 million per year, depending on its size. In contrast, networked PoE devices that are part of a smart office can collect and share critical status and performance data in real time to help preempt downtime.Downtime in Non-PoE Networks 3. Operational Efficiency Ambient Light Boosts Employee ProductivityWhen PoE devices are part of an integrated smart building management system, they can collect and share data to help with operational management. For example, insights into occupancy levels captured via PoE proximity sensors can inform better spatial management. Also, data on ambient light in an office can help to personalize lighting. It can enhance employee productivity by up to 16%. Organizations can also conserve energy by tracking room occupancy, temperature changes, and peak ambient light levels. Incorporating PoE sensors into a centralized smart building management system helps to gather and analyze the relevant data. Then, automatic environmental controls make the necessary adjustments to meet verifiable energy requirements in the workplace. 4. Technology Expansion In the TechTarget survey, 22% of the respondents expect their networking budgets to rise to achieve digital transformation. PoE will play a significant role in the expansion of enterprise networks and the integration of next-generation devices and applications. For instance, companies adopting PoE-enabled infrastructure are better placed to expand their digital technology to future use cases like the IoT and Li-Fi.Rising Network Budget for Digital Transformation 5. Future-Proofing Networks A PoE enterprise network is future-proof in that it's cheaper to upgrade and scale up over time. Such infrastructure is compatible with next-generation applications based on emerging industry standards. In a nutshell, PoE-driven digital transformation in the workplace in 2020 will include these key components:
  1. Smart LED lighting
  2. Intelligent building systems
  3. Wireless Access Points (WAPs)
At Versa Technology, we supply a full range of IT networking equipment, suiting your current and long-term requirements. Our backward-compatible and forward-looking solutions are ideal for future-proofing your enterprise data infrastructure in line with your digital transformation plan.
PoE IoT & IoP — Or How We’re All Going to Be Living On The Internet

PoE IoT & IoP — Or How We’re All Going to Be Living On The Internet

The internet connected everyone and now we're connecting everything to the internet. Our ability to power low-voltage smart devices wirelessly is enabling Big Data to get even bigger — from smart homes to smart buildings to smart cities — But the big question is: What’s next? Does the target get bigger or is the next target ourselves?

Smart Cities: How PoE and IoT Intersect to Form IoP

Our future cities will be super-smart, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Places (IoP), Power over Ethernet (PoE), and big data analytics. They'll have interconnected systems and devices that interact and communicate with each other, autonomously. Planners will be able to collect and analyze the massive tons of data generated by intelligent urban platforms. They'll use big data analytics to create solutions that enhance the quality of life in their cities.PoE LED Street Lamp - San Diego San Diego, California, is a perfect example. The city deployed an IoP platform with IoT and PoE-driven components several years ago. It is using Ethernet cabling to deliver power to thousands of interconnected LED streetlights. Such lighting systems have low power and voltage requirements, making them cheaper to use. The PoE streetlights are integrated with the city's IoT network, which makes it possible to monitor and control them remotely. The smart lamps are fitted with motion sensors to conserve energy by optimizing lighting based on the needs of each space. As a result, San Diego saves up to $250,000 or more per year in power costs. Moreover, the city has intelligent street lights capable of monitoring traffic or listening for criminal activity. Some of these smart lamps have built-in PoE-powered video cameras, microphones, and microprocessors that are part of the city's IoT. Since San Diego uses Ethernet as the primary medium for IoT connectivity, each connected device has a unique IP address. The smart infrastructure is, therefore, easier to maintain, manage, and configure. With San Diego's smart city system comes big data analytics to help with urban planning. Each of the platform's IoT sensors sends raw data to a cloud-based repository in real time. So the city can analyze huge chunks of data from PoE cameras, microphones, and motion sensors. By using machine learning algorithms to analyze big data, planners can extract descriptive and predictive insights into pedestrian counts, traffic density, temperature, and other information specific to each monitored location or area. Such intelligence is useful in many ways, including mobility planning, city/real estate development planning, and pedestrian safety improvement.

When BIM Meets the IoT, Data-Driven Architecture Happens

With building information modeling (BIM), architects can efficiently assemble all components of building design into a complete system. The professionals are now leveraging the IoT to simplify data gathering and analytics for architectural design. We're starting to see smart buildings with interconnected PoE devices like thermostats, cameras, and lights that respond to movement. By integrating such IoT devices into BIM software, architects can collect and analyze building information before developing their technical drawings. A typical analytics-driven building design process begins with the deployment of interconnected sensors and apps. Such a system can track and record things like the movement of people in a building, usage of interior spaces, energy consumption, and the amount of natural light entering the building. The design team may then use BIM software to analyze the data collected via PoE sensors to create best-fitting models for building owners or users. They could apply the insights to the simulation of a structure before it's built. It's also possible to simulate multiple sustainability techniques and features for optimal building performance. WeWork takes a similar approach by integrating analytics with architectural modeling to create workspaces for the tech industry. The real estate company is collecting and analyzing tons of architectural data, including geospatial information, across the globe. Its real estate analysts are using the intelligence to identify projects worth taking up based on proximity to things like shopping malls or transportation hubs. They're also using tools like app surveys and PoE room sensors to gather usage data from the properties they're managing. By analyzing the data, the company's designers can see what building specifications are already working (for instance, room configurations or desk arrangements). This analysis may then inform the design of similar types of spaces or properties.

PoE Lighting and Controls for the Advancement of Personal Wellbeing

According to research, the amount of lighting we're exposed to (and the timing of the exposure) can impact our psychological functions. At home, for example, high-quality lighting can improve sleep and mood. However, each person may have unique lighting requirements for optimal health and comfort. The good news is that IoT, along with PoE lights, can be used to regulate lighting in a room based on the specific needs of each occupant. In a project called the Swedish Healthy Home, researchers employed IoT to regulate home lighting and promote personal well being. They created a network that included PoE lighting to illuminate specific rooms based on user requirements. Each household member wore a special digital monitor that tracked their exposure to light throughout the day. It also monitored how light interacted with each person's biological system. The tracker sent the data to a mobile IoT device, such as a smartphone, for storage. Each time a household member got back home, the portable IoT device automatically transmitted the data to the home's PoE lighting system. Smart lighting controls relied on the data to autonomously deliver a personalized lighting treatment for each individual.
LRC’s Daysimeter

Image credits: The Swedish Energy Agency, Lund University, IAI Inc., and LRC.

 

Are People the Next Target for IoT Connectivity?

The number of interconnected objects and devices keeps rising, from streetlights in smart cities to motion sensors and PoE LEDs in intelligent building systems. But we're also witnessing a gradual rise in the use of smart wearables that are connected to centralized databases. For example, IoT-based personal heart rate monitors enable doctors to track their patients' health remotely. Such "intelligent" devices are the future of healthcare and other industries. That begs the question, is IoT slowly moving toward us? Maybe the next big thing in the sphere of smart technology is people becoming critical IoT components, just like smartphones and intelligent sensors? When everyone's part of these IoP, IoT, and PoE-powered systems, we're all going to be living on the internet, literally!
Installers: 7 Ideas for Streamlining PoE Lighting Design and Installation

Installers: 7 Ideas for Streamlining PoE Lighting Design and Installation

Smart Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting control systems are value-adding parts of most intelligent building systems today. That said, setting them up to industry standards while satisfying unique customer requirements is no walk in the park. Installers are grappling with a shrunk labor force, tight schedules, and building codes that vary from place to place. Here are seven ways to streamline your PoE lighting project and deliver value against the backdrop of conflicting protocols and dynamic customer needs.

1. Incorporate Value Drivers into the Design1. Incorporate Value Drivers into the Design

PoE-enabled luminaries should deliver energy efficiency at the very minimum, but installers should aim higher. Think about ways to add value by enhancing the human experience in the spaces you create. One way to do this is by integrating lighting control solutions with other installations in the facility, such as HVAC and surveillance. Consider linking components like light sensors, motion sensors, and occupancy sensors with building management systems (BMS) and intuitive software. This way, building operations teams can leverage optimal data visibility to extract descriptive, prescriptive, or even predictive intelligence. Facility owners and users can harness in-depth building insights to inform actions that optimize the usage of the spaces in which they operate. You're adding value by incorporating intelligent PoE lighting control design into other critical BMS components.

2. Every Space has its Unique Requirements—Study and Address Them2. Every Space has its Unique Requirements—Study and Address Them

No matter your budget, don't sacrifice building performance by delivering a general or subpar solution. It helps to consult with stakeholders in the project (facility owners, managers, and operators) to build lighting control systems around specific requirements. Thus, ask critical questions to help with the custom design of the solution. Which spaces need smart lighting controls? What level of code compliance does each area require? You can optimize your budget without compromising performance when you find a perfect balance between control features and regulatory compliance. You may refer to online guides in your pre-project research on the most suitable smart lighting design for the client. These can provide good-better-best options for each space you're illuminating with PoE-powered solutions. Then, discuss all possibilities with the client and incorporate the research insights into your technical blueprint.

3. Understaffed at Work? Wireless Lighting Controls to the Rescue!3. Understaffed at Work? Wireless Lighting Controls to the Rescue!

If your project is understaffed, you're likely to have problems meeting deadlines, working within budget, or even keeping your clients happy. You may also lack the time or personnel for proper pre-project research and design. However, it may be possible to work with a lean team and tight timelines when you bring wireless lighting controls into the picture. Wireless control systems offer many installation advantages, including fast-tracking and simplifying design and deployment. They eliminate the cost of materials such as dedicated control wiring and traveler wires. Since these systems are scalable, they're a cost-effective option for projects whose requirements may change in future.

4. Take the Guesswork Out of Code Compliance With the Right Solution Providers4. Take the Guesswork Out of Code Compliance With the Right Solution Providers

Tracking the energy conservation and building code of your area of operation can be a pain, especially if you're an interstate or intercity installer. That's because such regulations differ from state to state and city to city, and they keep changing from time to time. It can be confusing, but it need not be the case for you when you're working with suppliers that can help with code compliance. A good case in point is the state of New York whose regulations draw from multiple industry standards. These include the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code and the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2013. However, local jurisdictions don't have to enforce the State Energy Code in whole. As such, cities like Albany or towns like Brighton may have a stricter local code. Fortunately, lighting control vendors can help with comprehensive code guides specific to your state, city, or town. They can also provide system typicals for the space types you're working with.

5. Be Futuristic: Think Beyond What's Viable Today5. Be Futuristic: Think Beyond What’s Viable Today

Consider how fundamental changes in the industry can affect your business in the long term. Your operating conditions might not remain favorable when counterfeits or new equipment-makers enter the market. For example, would you be able to sustain operations if the owner of a proprietary protocol you're relying on left the market? Is your supplier offering lighting control products compatible with other building systems? To be on the safe side, engage a provider whose lighting control solutions can integrate with other components of standard building systems and software. Also, consider long-term costs, including when a cheaper product is available today. Prioritize longevity and scalability too.

6. Keep all the Good Customers to Yourself by Delivering on or Exceeding Their Expectations Every TimeLutron’s QuEst-D

The modern facility owner or space occupant is more informed than ever before, and they're asking much more from lighting control equipment installers. Add that to the need to differentiate against the backdrop of shortened project schedules, changing building codes, demand for energy-efficient design, and new technologies. How do you consistently meet higher customer expectations in a highly competitive commercial property market today? Try using some of the project management and optimization tools available to contractors in the real estate industry. With free resources like Lutron's QuEst-D, you can quickly provide potential customers with the information they need to make the right choice. Tools that help to minimize risk, satisfy project bids, and simplify system design and installation are also essential to the attainment of sustained competitiveness.

7. 24/7 Support: To be There for Your Customers, Your Providers Must be There for You7. 24/7 Support: To be There for Your Customers, Your Providers Must be There for You

Sometimes, your customers will raise issues that only your smart building system vendor or equipment manufacturer can resolve. So, look for a provider with a solid reputation for innovation, reliability, and 24/7 customer support. Be sure that your supplier is willing to address long-term customer concerns on an ongoing basis from the initial installation.

Wrapping it Up

Are you struggling with the installation of energy-saving PoE lighting control systems? There are practical ways to overcome common challenges, speed up your project, and deliver on high customer expectations. To add value by enhancing the human experience of the physical spaces you create, consider integrating lighting controls with your client's building systems. Look for providers that simplify building code compliance. Also, engage manufacturers that guarantee your future via ongoing customer support, innovation, scalability, and support for standard integrations. To compensate for a stretched workforce, consider adopting cost-effective wireless solutions. Finally, your business can succeed in a highly competitive real estate landscape by leveraging free software tools to reduce risk and fast-track design and installation. Are you looking to set up value-adding, energy-efficient, and smart lighting systems today? At Versa Technology, we offer a wide range of code-compliant PoE lighting control solutions. Contact us to discover more!
How to Install a PoE Camera Infographic

How to Install a PoE Camera for Perfect Home Security

If you want to know how to install a PoE camera, it's not as simple as picking a place and bolting your PoE camera to the wall. Lighting, weather, location, decoys and the purpose of the camera all play a part in the installation. Where you decide to install your PoE camera will either greatly increase your home security, or leave gaps where there shouldn't be. If you have invested in a PoE camera and home security system, now is the time to take the next step and setup the installation the right way so you never have to worry about security again. We’ve put together an easy to follow guide full of insightful tips to make sure your PoE security camera installation goes smoothly, and your security system is top-notch.

How to Install A PoE Camera

There are four different ways to install a PoE Camera and choosing which is best for you will depend on the equipment you will be using.

1. PoE Camera with PoE Switch

If you are using a PoE switch, regardless if it is a managed PoE switch or an unmanaged PoE switch, the easiest way to set up the PoE camera is to simply connect it to the PoE switch which will then provide the camera with data and power.

2. PoE Camera with PoE Injector

If you do not have a PoE switch, you will need to connect a PoE injector to your camera from your switch. The PoE injector will run the data from your switch and will also be able to supply your PoE camera with power.

3. PoE Camera with PoE Hub

If you will be installing a lot of PoE cameras, it can be quite a hassle if you were to try to connect a lot of PoE injectors on the same network. Instead, it would be best to install a PoE hub. The set up is a lot simpler because you would only need to supply the PoE hub with power once and it can power several PoE cameras.

4. PoE Camera with PoE NVR and Router

If you will be installing your PoE cameras with a non-PoE compatible router you will need to install a PoE NVR (Network Video Recorder) which will be able to supply your PoE camera with both data and power.

PoE Camera Placement

Now that you know the mechanics of how to install a PoE camera, it’s time to figure out the placement. In order for your security cameras to be the most effective, there are a few particular places we recommend installing them.
  • Outdoors
  • Front Door
  • Back/Side Door
  • Garage
  • Yard
  • Indoors
  • Common Areas
  • Stairway/Hallway
Be careful when choosing your locations, there are a few places you want to make sure you do not install a PoE camera. The first would be in bedrooms or bathrooms. There is an expectation of privacy and installing cameras in these rooms can cause serious legal issues. You also need to make sure your PoE cameras are installed in a way that they only capture your own home. If a camera can see into a neighbors backyard or through their window, it absolutely has to be moved. We know that the effectiveness of your security system is important to you. There is a lot to consider when installing a PoE camera. To help make sure you have the perfect setup for your home, we have created an easy to follow infographic. Check it out below for full details on PoE camera installation methods as well as some placement tips and tricks for both indoor and outdoor cameras. How to Install a PoE Camera for Perfect Home Security
Emerging Workplace Trends Shaping the Future of Modern Architecture

Emerging Workplace Trends Shaping the Future of Modern Architecture

Office design has never been more fundamental to the success of a business. The constant change that new technologies bring to the workplace has opened unparalleled opportunities for design innovation and experimentation. This current trend toward office optimization is forecast to increase in 2019 and beyond. The needs and expectations for a work environment are quite different from those in the past. One of the newest and most important trends is something termed “wellbeing.”

Wellbeing In the Workplace

Employee wellbeing is an important consideration when planning and designing a modern office. Today’s research is proving that a “well” workplace is a healthy workplace--and happy, healthy employees add to the bottom line. The design of a workplace should include the following elements:
  • Color: Research shows that the right colors can positively contribute to happiness, productivity and even physical health (eg. yellow can evoke feelings of optimism, warmth, and creativity).
  • Texture: Adding texture to office brings warmth and appeal--and elevates the “humanity” of the space (eg. a variety of fabrics, patterns, artwork, pillows, rugs, sculpture pieces, etc. can create comfort and interest to the work environment).
  • Air Quality: A rise in carbon dioxide or other noxious gases can cause loss of concentration, low productivity, and even serious health concerns for employees.
  • Lighting: Power over Ethernet (PoE) and LED lighting systems enable buildings to interact directly (in real time) with end users and the environment. (eg. lighting that mimics sunlight and changes in time/season allows bio rhythms to be maintained--and can create indoor comfort conditions to suit individual employee preferences).
  • Ergonomics: This is the science of designing products for the workplace that are optimized for human use (eg. specially engineered chairs that fit individual needs or desking systems that allow employees to stand and work rather than sit all day).
  • Experience-Driven Spaces: These spaces are employee-focused enhancements in the workplace that help develop employee wellness, happiness, morale, and sense of community (eg. a massage therapy service, chiropractic facility, meditation area, walking/jogging trail, rock climbing wall, espresso bar, and the like).
Employee recruiting and retention is a critical goal in today’s business world. Therefore, a workplace design with wellness features is something top-notch employees are looking for. And, simply, it’s the right thing to do. Wellbeing in the Office Another emerging trend in 2019 is extending the use of co-working spaces.

Co-working Spaces

In the past, the various enterprises sharing a co-working environment have remained separate and closed off from one another. However, in newer cohabitation spaces, walls are being torn down and companies are sharing spaces, resources, and, sometimes, even personnel. These companies all share similar goals (maximization of collaboration, creativity, flexibility, innovation) and are especially designed to attract millennials. Free-range office spaces are often characterized by:
  • Open plan office design
  • Multi-use meeting areas
  • Technology resource spaces
  • Unconventional creative spaces
  • Lots of glass
  • Plants and greenery
  • Portable green wall dividers
  • Lightweight, mobile furniture
  • No cubicles
  • Comfortable couches and chairs
  • Coffee/espresso bars
Cohabitation spaces provide options for companies to acquire space without having to commit to long-term leases; they also encourage landlords to re-work space (flexibility) and provide for shared amenity areas within the building. Co-Working Spaces in the Office Another popular thing is “old becomes new again.”

Quirky Buildings and Interiors

This isn’t a new phenomenon but bringing a historical old building back to life or repairing a broken-down warehouse is a popular direction these days. New business parks in areas such as old fishing yards, meatpacking districts, deserted manufacturing plants, and abandoned waterfront areas are giving these spaces a new lease on life. Old, honored craftsmanship meets with new, modern furniture and decor--the best of both worlds. This “old becomes new again” design trend features:
  • Old-world craftsmanship
  • Modern design accents
  • Antique/weathered textures
  • Smooth/soft textures
  • Glass and metals
  • Carpet and wall coverings with abstract designs
  • Modern furniture and office equipment
This design trend allows for an “aged” feeling with quirky choices of color, texture and decor that is modern. Contrast is important: old vs. new, hard vs. soft; homey vs. industrial. Quirky Office Buildings In contrast to this old versus new approach to design, biophilic design enjoys huge popularity these days and is becoming a near necessity.

What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is an extension of the philosophy of “biophilia” (part of the green movement) and is defined as “the inherent human inclination to affiliate with nature.” This design trend is noted for the following features:
  • Environmental Features: Color, water, air, sunlight, plants, animals, and natural materials are built into the environment.
  • Natural Shapes and Forms: These buildings often have botanical, animal, or shell motifs. Simulation of natural shapes, such as arches, vaults, and domes are part of the architecture.
  • Natural Patterns: These spaces have varying sensory experiences: play between balance and tension, rhythm, ratios, and use of scale. Contrasts are important.
  • Light and Space: Humans react to differing types of light and space in a variety of ways. These spaces offer warm light, cool light, diffused light, and even dark. There’s a harmonious relationship with the outside (eg. large glass windows bring in light, trees, and other landscape into the building).
  • Place-Based Relationships: Historic, cultural, geographic, spiritual, and ecological factors are respected and honored in the design of the building.
The basic principle of this popular design philosophy is to incorporate feeling-based concepts, such as order and complexity; curiosity and enticement; mastery and control; affection and attachment; security and protection; exploration and discovery, even fear and awe.

Biophilic Offices

Environment Diversity: The Better Way

In workplace design for 2019 and for the future, the push tends toward creativity and humanity. Offices now have “personalities” and wear the spirit and the culture of the company. The user experience is at present a critical factor in workplace design. Gone are the days of the draconian office that takes no heed to the needs of its inhabitants. The current drive and interest is toward meeting the needs of the people who spend most of their waking hours in a workspace.
What if Proposed Texas Legislation Became the National Norm for Cabling?

What if Proposed Texas Legislation Became the National Norm for Cabling?

As of the spring of 2019, there were 2 virtually identical bills making their way through the Texas legislature: Senate Bill (SB) 1004 and House of Representative Bill (HB) 1141. https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB1004/2019 https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB1141/2019 Backed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IEBW), the goal of these bills was to classify any cabling circuit that supplies more than 50 watts of power as “electrical work” and would, therefore, be required to be installed by a licensed electrician. Existing Texas law spells out the different types of electrical work that have a licensing requirement. It also states the type of work that is exempt from this requirement. One of the exemptions reads as follows: “. . . the design, installation, erection, repair, or alteration of Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 remote control, signaling, or power-limited circuits, fire alarm circuits, optical fiber cables, or communications circuits, including raceways, as defined by the National Electrical Code.” SB 1004 and HB 1141 sought to add the following wording to the end of the existing exemption rule: “. . . that operate at less than 50 volts (V) and that are not capable of supplying or controlling more than 50 volt-amperes or 50 watts of power.”

What are the consequences to the low-voltage industry?

Per current Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards, Class 2 power sourcing equipment (PSE) provides a maximum of 30 watts and Class 3 PSE provides a maximum of 60 watts--while Class 4 PSE provides a maximum of 90 watts. If the proposed Texas legislation were to prevail, it would mean that circuits that support Class 3 or Class 4 PSE or PDs (powered devices) would fit within the parameters of the new law. Therefore, any circuit that supplies or controls more than 50 watts of power would no longer be exempt from the electrician license requirement. In short, people are put out of work and costs go up. For now, both these bills’ status is “Adjourned Sine Die” (in plain English, this means “adjourned without a day”--meaning “adjourned for the session”). The 86th Texas Legislature began on January 8, 2019 and concluded on May 27, 2019. It won’t meet again until January 12, 2021 (unless the Governor calls an emergency session). So, in effect, both these bills are dead for the near future. Emergency averted. However, there was recently a similar building code change being proposed in Utah that would lower Class 2 wiring voltage from 100V to 50V. Changes like these would prevent audio-video (AV) integrators from installing distributed audio systems. A grassroots effort was initiated to defeat this bill--the rationale being that this rule change was a possible attempt to capture work, rather than a safety or training issue (which was how it was proposed). Thanks to these efforts in the Utah low-voltage working community, the bill has been removed from the pending rule hearing. What do these types of legislative endeavors mean to the PoE industry?

The Low Voltage Controversy

Jason Potterf of Cisco, who recently testified against SB 1004 in Texas, states: “This is going to be a multi-year fight. We’ve seen a flurry of PoE targeted legislation over the past 6 months in multiple states, and anticipate next year will be no different. However, we’ve successfully defended PoE from these attacks in all cases and believe it will prevail in the future due to its inherent safety features.” Jason Potterf, Cisco Quote https://www.cepro.com/article/texas_bills_electrical_license_poe Kelly Ryan, president of the Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (TBFAA), was also in attendance during the Texas bill hearings. He states, “The Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (TBFAA) strongly opposed HB1141 and SB1004. During the public comment portion of the Texas House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee, TBFAA testified against HB1141 as we felt the proposed language was an immediate threat to low-voltage jobs throughout the state. While representatives for the electricians testified that HB1141 was needed to protect people from shock and fire hazards of PoE circuits, they gave no specific incidents to support their claims.” Kelly Ryan, Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Association This wrangling is happening because of the trend toward Light Emitting Diode (LED). The current form of this technology (which has been around since the ‘60s) has revolutionized the lighting industry and makes it easy for low-voltage integrators to install lighting fixtures. In response to this low-voltage trend and because of the ever-changing new technology in this field, the IEEE recently amended 802.3 standards. These standards define Ethernet-based networks. In short, amendments 802.3cb-2018, 802.3bt-2018, and 802.3cd-2018 increase voltage allowances to meet industry demands for greater Ethernet functionality. Lighting is going low voltage and this concerns many electricians right now. The new proposed legislation is a struggle over the demarcation of this Ethernet-based technology. Everybody’s trying to find their place in this overlap between AV and electrical work.

Is there other proposed legislation out there?

The National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) is the leading non-profit organization representing the commercial energy industry. In particular, they advocate for all workers in the low-voltage trade. Per the NSCA, the early part of 2019 saw the introduction of an unprecedented amount of licensure bills. This association feels that many of these bills are the result of adjacent industries using legislative measures to capture or control trade jurisdiction. Following, is a snapshot of the main bills that the NSCA is monitoring at this time:
  • Arizona Bill HB 2181
  • Florida Bill SB 604
  • Hawaii Bill SB 423
  • Idaho Bill SB1009
  • Maryland Bills HB 702 & HB 905
  • North Dakota Bill SB 2359
  • New York Bill A3748
  • Oklahoma Bills SB 175 & SB 653
  • Texas Bill HB 1141
For further information regarding these bills, please visit the NSCA at www.nsca.org/track-legislation.

It’s time to pay attention

There are 70+ more bills that the NSCA is monitoring--and there are many other industry-related issues of concern: code changes, legislation governing connected devices, cybersecurity laws, intellectual property rights, school safety regulations, payment and obligation, apprenticeships, and many more. As quoted above, this truly will be a “multi-year fight.” Now, more than ever, it will be important to be an informed representative of the low-voltage industry.
In Case You Missed It: IEEE Publishes Amendments to 802.3 Standards

In Case You Missed It: IEEE Publishes Amendments to 802.3 Standards

What is the IEEE?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (known as the IEEE) is the largest technical professional organization in the world. With its corporate office located in New York City and its operations center in Piscataway, New Jersey, this enterprise has more than 423,000 members in over 160 countries. The IEEE’s “objectives are the educational and technical advancement of electrical and electronic engineering, telecommunications, computer engineering, and allied disciplines.” The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is an entity within the IEEE that develops, nurtures, and drives global standards for a wide range of industries, including:
  • Power and energy
  • Biomedical and health care
  • Information technology
  • Robotics
  • Telecommunications
  • Home automation
  • Transportation
  • Nanotechnology
  • And many more . . .
Technical experts from all over the world participate in the development of global standards for these wide-reaching industries. The IEEE-SA has a catalog of over 1250 active standards as well as hundreds in the process of development.

What is IEEE 802.3?

According to Techopedia: “IEEE 802.3 is a set of standards put forth by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that define Ethernet-based networks as well as the name of the working group assigned to develop these standards. “IEEE 802.3 is otherwise known as the Ethernet standard and defines the physical layer and the media access control (MAC) of the data link layer for wired Ethernet networks, generally as a local area network (LAN) technology.” In response to evolving industry requirements for new and emerging Ethernet applications, the IEEE-SA announced (in April 2019) 3 standard amendments to IEEE 802.3.
  • Amendment 1 (IEEE 802.3cb-2018): This amendment defines “Ethernet Media Access (MAC) parameters, Physical Layer specifications and management objects for the serial transfer of Ethernet format frames at 2.5 Gb/s and 5 Gb/s over electrical backplanes.”
  • Amendment 2 (IEEE 802.3bt-2018): The maximum Powered Device (PD) power available is increased by this amendment by utilizing all 4 pairs in the specified structure wiring plant. “This represents a substantial change to the capabilities of Ethernet with standardized power. The power classification information exchanged during negotiation is extended to allow meaningful power management capability. These enhancements solve the problem of higher power and more efficient standardized Power over Ethernet (PoE) delivery systems.”
  • Amendment 3 (IEEE 802.3cd-2018): This amendment adds Clause 131 through 140 and Annex 135A through 136D to IEEE 802.3-2018. These addendums specify Media Access Control (MAC) parameters, Physical Layer specifications, and management criterion regarding the transfer of IEEE 802.3 format frames at 50Gb/s, 100 Gb/s, and 200 Gb/s.

Meeting Industry Needs for the Future

These 3 new amendments to IEEE 802.3 have been instituted to meet industry demands for greater Ethernet functionality. According to IEEE Standards University article, written by George Zimmerman and entitled “Evolution of Ethernet Standards In IEEE 802.3 Working Group”:
“The work within the IEEE 802.3 Working Group is far from done, with the next generation of high-speed 40/100/200/400G links aiming for broader market adoption through increasing the cost-effectiveness of solutions while decreasing the power consumption and complexity of compatible products. This work also focuses on lower speeds. The 10 Mb/s Extended Reach Single Twisted Pair Ethernet PHY project, aims to address existing market demand for a unified lower speed and a longer-reach PHY for automation purposes. The IEEE 802.3 Working Group is thus looking for ways to expand Ethernet market coverage and to support higher data rates while also providing coverage for emerging markets such as the automotive industry. “It can be expected that innovation in the area of wired Ethernet will continue in the years to come, bringing the same highly reliable and well-understood networking philosophy to new markets, enabling new applications, and making networking in general more ubiquitous.”
Testing HDBaseT Quality: Don't Make This Mistake

Testing HDBaseT Quality: Don’t Make This Mistake

Testing HDBaseT quality can be a straightforward process, but if you miss this one step in the process you'll give yourself a headache later. Technology is ever-changing, and with consumer electronics, the reality has never been more true: If you’re not keeping up with evolving and changing technology, you will quickly fall behind, costing you time, money and frustration. Though HDBaseT is the most adaptable technology for home and office audio & video needs, in order to successfully plan, install, and maintain these infrastructures takes ever-evolving knowledge, and the appropriate tools for such adaptations. There is one quiet killer in particular for HDBaseT quality that, if known about, tested for in your HDBaseT installations, the issue can be avoided or resolved entirely. In order to fully explain this issue and how to discover it, it’s important to understand how HDBaseT technology got to where it is today.

The Power of PoE

In the past, communication between two points required separate circuits entirely: One for communication, and another for power. But with the advent of PoE (Power over Ethernet), this was no longer necessary. This state-of-the-art technology allowed communication planners and technicians an efficient way to provide power for an expanding collection of electronic devices, without the necessity for separate infrastructures. All they needed was the Power over Ethernet infrastructure. Finally, the invention of HDBaseT took high-tech communication to new levels of quality and speed, and expanded diversity of the infrastructure. PoE (Power over Ethernet) = Power + Data With this, PoE became PoH (Power over HDBaseT), meaning all of the conductors in the cable infrastructure not only carried communication, but the DC current as well to a multitude of different components. The outcome? - any issues with the DC power in the HDBaseT networks now negatively impacted the quality and dependability of transmissions. PoH (Power over HDBaseT) = Power + Data + HDMI Because of this latest update in technology, one thing is clear: Testing HDBaseT infrastructure is imperative - whether you’re solving issues, expanding your current infrastructure, or installing new infrastructures. It is, of course, attractive, to make what you have as efficient as possible, to take on the largest load possible. However, if you’re not testing for DC-related problems, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. Conversely, getting rid of the infrastructures you already have for unknown concerns doesn’t entirely make sense either. And moreover, even new cables should be checked for their ability to handle PoH and high-quality transmissions concurrently, since the materials of any one cable may differ from another, and therefore affect the network quality.

HDBaseT Quality Testing

So what is it that you need to test in order to determine the health and quality of your current HDBaseT? Think about current. With any DC, resistance is going to be the biggest enemy. And the higher the DC resistance, the bigger the issue.MS-TestPro from MSolutions, HDBaseT Tester Therefore, what you may think to do is to test the DC resistance of individual wires & wire pairs. While this is important, you’ll want to do more than just that. In order to appropriately determine the health of the Power over HDBaseT capacity, you will need to test the entire cable as a whole. See, each individual wire might be performing healthily, but the entire cable as a whole could not be due to differences in the DC resistance of each twisted pair, or the DC resistance unbalance. That means 3 DC resistance values are needed to understand the overall picture of the HDBaseT infrastructure’s health: the resistance of individual wires, total resistance and resistance unbalance within pairs, and DC resistance unbalance between all pairs. That way, you’ll get the true answer about the ability of your HDBaseT infrastructure to hand PoH while maintaining its highest quality transmission that it possibly can.

Conclusion

Now here’s the good news: there are plenty of options out there on the market to test DC resistance and DC resistance unbalance effectively and reliably. Prices and capabilities of the various models will vary widely, but few will offer full testing capabilities while supporting all necessary DC resistance functions. Understanding is a key element to success. You can’t fix an issue if you don’t know what to look for. That’s why being aware of the potential problems that DC resistance can cause in your HDBaseT network, as well as knowing how to check these parameters with the appropriate tools is so important to prevent network disruptions before they arise.
The Intelligent Building Market

The Intelligent Building Market

The intelligent building market, also known as the smart building market, is a field that is rapidly growing and developing as innovations in data and power transfer push the boundaries of what is possible. Smart buildings are integrated with technology and energy systems, and their possibilities are endless. With the right equipment, security, lighting, energy consumption, and temperature can be monitored and improved, among other things. The opportunities for improvement are not just limited to commercial enterprises, however. Already consumers are upgrading their houses with smart thermostats, home assistants, and voice-activated lights. In the future, smart buildings will only become more and more commonplace as technology is integrated into everything we interact with. That’s not to say that the smart building market comes without challenges. Although this market is poised to expand rapidly, there are obstacles to adoption.

Smart Building Trends

As buildings become more interconnected through the Internet of Things (IoT), certain trends have become apparent in smart buildings. One of these trends is the monitoring of indoor air quality. Current non-intelligent methods of monitoring air quality are less comprehensive and less automated. Studies have shown that high concentrations of CO2 in the air correlate to decreased cognitive performance. Businesses concerned with increasing worker safety and productivity will want to monitor air quality to make sure it is at optimal levels. With IoT, the air quality of a building can be automatically monitored in real time for increased efficiency. Another trend on the uptick is increasing energy efficiency. Most buildings today only have manual meters to gauge energy efficiency. This lack of information can cause various oversights and inefficiencies in energy usage. Smart buildings can allow for the real-time monitoring of water, gas, and electric meters. Not only can the entire building be evaluated, but individual spaces and rooms can be assessed too. This in-depth monitoring and data collection will allow buildings to effectively appraise their energy consumption, giving businesses the information they need to increase energy efficiency and lower costs. Besides the addition of sensors, another major trend is the usage of Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE uses a single cable to provide a device with both data and power. This functionality provides many advantages over traditional wiring options. First and foremost, PoE is more efficient, as it allows networks to be wired with just half the cabling. This integrates very well with IoT devices, as they all require power and internet connections. With PoE Type 4, each PoE port can provide up to 100W of power, and 70W per device. This increase in power has allowed a much wider variety of devices to be connected, increasing the utility and flexibility of PoE solutions. PoE Type 4 PoE has commonly been used with lights, monitors, laptops, and a variety of other devices.  

Growth in the Smart Building Market

As the applications for IoT and smart buildings grow, the market for smart buildings has been growing as well. In 2018, the global smart building market size was 58.1 billion dollars. While this is already an impressive figure, the market is predicted to reach a size of 198 billion dollars by the end of 2025. This amounts to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.1%. To put that number into perspective, the forecasted revenue growth rate of the technology sector as a whole is just 1.9%. Clearly, the smart building market is booming. But what is causing such massive growth? There are a variety of factors that affect this expansion. One of the biggest reasons is the increased demand for energy efficiency. As energy conservation has become more important recently, demand for smart buildings has increased. Eco-friendly and green buildings have become increasingly common, and these buildings contain a variety of smart features. Another reason for the increased growth is industry standards and regulations becoming more supportive. As governments worldwide take steps towards bolstering sustainability and energy efficiency regulations, more opportunities are available to the smart building market. Besides the growth in individual smart buildings, the demand for smart cities has also increased. Governments worldwide are realizing the benefits of incorporating IoT into their cities. As more smart infrastructure is added to cities, the smart building market will only continue to grow. Already, cities such as Barcelona, Amsterdam, Chicago, and New York are adding smart city programs.

Smart Building Challenges

Despite the fact the smart building trends and the market, in general, are growing, there are still difficulties involved with implementing smart technologies in buildings. One problem that may not seem so obvious is the problem of choice. With so many different technologies available to utilize, it can be easy to fall victim to paralysis by analysis. Obviously, it would be cost-prohibitive to attempt to install every single type of smart technology into a building. It is important for businesses to focus on selecting the services they are most in need of. A more obvious problem is the issue of implementation. Building services are not designed to be automated. Installing various sensors, networks, power cables, and other internet-connected devices will be a costly process, especially since most buildings were not designed with the idea of automation in mind. While in the long run, IoT-enabled buildings will save money and increase productivity, short-run costs can dissuade businesses from making the switch.

Conclusion

To summarize, the intelligent building market is a field that is currently experiencing massive growth. IoT-connected devices are becoming more commonplace in businesses as well as homes. Smart buildings can be equipped with a wide variety of technology to automate and increase efficiency, such as air quality monitors, temperature sensors, and energy efficiency monitors. Other technologies like PoE are helpful for providing power and data to IoT devices more effectively. The rise of smart cities and updated standards and regulations have helped to drive the growth of the smart building market. Of course, as with any technology, there are obstacles to implementation, such as installation costs.
Limitations of PoE Technologies in Office Buildings

Limitations of PoE Technology in Office Buildings

As technology for consumers and businesses alike advances, the concept of smart buildings is becoming less science fiction and more science fact.

Nowadays, consumers can already purchase products like smart thermostats, voice-activated lights, and home assistants such as Alexa and Google Home.

Businesses can also benefit from these new innovations. Smart lights and temperature sensors allow for more intelligent environmental control, increasing savings as well as worker comfort.

It is clear that the Internet of Things (IoT) is not going anywhere, and technological integration will only become a larger part of our lives at home and work.

With the rise of smaller electronic devices connecting to the internet, there has become a greater need for power and internet cable networking.

Power over Ethernet fills this role, bringing to the table many advantages over other networking solutions that require two separate cables.

Using just a single cable for power and networking, PoE is more flexible, efficient, and can be more easily installed. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at PoE functions in offices, and specifically the limitations of PoE in offices.

Applications of PoE in Offices

The applications of PoE in offices are only increasing, as technology advances and PoE standards improve. With the advent of PoE Type 4, each PoE port can provide up to 100W, and up to 70W per device. These higher wattages allow for a much wider variety of devices to be connected.

One of the most effective uses for PoE in offices is for lighting purposes. Large networking companies have seen a 50% reduction in installation cost when using PoE-connected lighting systems when compared to traditional AC power systems.

When used in conjunction with LEDs, PoE can be used to install smart lighting systems that can intelligently switch lights on and off when someone enters/exits a room. Additionally, lights can be dimmed and color-shifted to increase worker comfort.

Office Smart Lighting

Besides lights, PoE can be used to install sensors to monitor energy consumption, temperature, air quality, or even occupancy sensors. Taking these measures into consideration will improve worker comfort and productivity, as well as reduce energy consideration.

To improve safety, all building entry points could be equipped with RFID sensors for quick and secure entry. Video cameras can also be hooked up to PoE for fast and flexible installation.

Even monitors and laptops can hook up to PoE, thanks to the large wattage increase that PoE Type 4 brings. Video chats in conference rooms could be networked and powered as well. One of the biggest benefits of PoE is its versatility and flexibility.

However, there are still some important limitations regarding PoE utilization in office buildings that should be considered before moving forward.

Installation Costs

While technology like voice control and internet connectivity already exists, it hasn’t yet been implemented everywhere. Not every single building you enter is smart, even though there are a number of benefits to integrating devices onto a single network.

The technology is there, but even though PoE installation is cheaper than traditional set-ups, it’s obviously not free.

Installing a new network from scratch comes with costs associated. While it may not seem too expensive to upgrade your house with a PoE network, it’s important to remember that office buildings are much larger and have many more devices needing connections.

Introducing a PoE network in a large office building is sure to require a multitude of PoE switches, hubs, injectors, splitters, and cables. These will be needed in order to connect to monitors, laptops, sensors, and other networked devices.

Of course, as time goes on, the demand for IoT connected devices will only increase, and offices will need to purchase more devices to stay up to date.

All the associated costs make it somewhat more cost-prohibitive for businesses to upgrade to PoE networks.

Maintenance

Power over Ethernet can be utilized through two different types of switches. The first type is unmanaged switches. These switches are meant to be totally plug-and-play, requiring no set-up to install and use.

Unmanaged switches are cheaper, but they aren’t complex enough to handle the networking needs of an office building. These switches are better suited to consumer purposes, such as smart homes.

Unmanaged Switch for Smart Homes, Managed Switch for Smart Offices

The other type of switch is a managed switch. Managed switches are more costly, but provide the additional control that is necessary for a complex office network. IT professionals can expertly adjust managed switches to ensure that every device connected is functioning optimally.

However, this maintenance comes at an additional cost. Employing IT workers to manage PoE switches and hubs is another cost that businesses should be aware of when implementing PoE networks.

Distance and Data Limitations

Besides cost, there other factors to consider when installing a PoE network.

PoE cables have a maximum range of 100 meters, after which the signal drops off very quickly. For consumers, that range should be plenty, but large businesses and buildings may run into problems.

Businesses should take care to place powered devices within a reasonable distance from Power Sourcing Equipment. To combat this, a PoE extender can be used to increase range by an additional 100 meters, although a 200-meter signal might not be sufficient if Power Sourcing Equipment is placed too far away.

PoE Extender Application Diagram

Although PoE provides power and data to devices, it is important to make sure quality is not sacrificed in the process. For those looking for heavy network usage, PoE tends to slow the data speed of the network.

This can be avoided by purchasing high-end switches, though.

Conclusion

Overall, PoE is being increasingly utilized to upgrade buildings, homes, and offices, bringing technological integration and the IoT into daily life. In offices alone, there are already a wide variety of uses for PoE, from smart lights to security cameras.

In spite of that, PoE is not without its challenges. Although cheaper than alternatives, it can be costly to implement and maintain. There are also range and data limits to take under consideration when designing a PoE network.

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