Wellbeing In the WorkplaceEmployee 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).
Co-working SpacesIn 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
Quirky Buildings and InteriorsThis 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
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.
Environment Diversity: The Better WayIn 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 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
- Home automation
- And many more . . .
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 FutureThese 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.”
The Power of PoEIn 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. 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. 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 TestingSo 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. 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.
ConclusionNow 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.
Smart Building TrendsAs 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 has commonly been used with lights, monitors, laptops, and a variety of other devices.
Growth in the Smart Building MarketAs 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 ChallengesDespite 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.
ConclusionTo 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PoE Adoptions in Office BuildingsPoE is being used to power and operate LED lighting systems, HVAC controls, cameras, and other network devices such as Wireless Access Points (WAPs), VoIP phones, door access systems, and more. In fact, the latest and greatest smart building concepts designed to bolster energy efficiency and boost productivity are driven by PoE technology. Looking to the future, operational technology (OT) is only going to continue making use of PoE in a plethora of different commercial settings, from offices and factories to warehouses and power plants. Architects, engineers, and builders are working in conjunction with information technology (IT) personnel to bring PoE networks to the forefront of everyday life in commercial environments. The forward-thinkers in the networking space have recognized the benefits of adopting PoE infrastructure, as it is a key asset for the proper implementation of IoT in smart buildings. These advanced technologies are responsible for network connected lighting solutions, in addition to the increased energy efficiency and the manageability of automated commercial networking systems.
100W PoE in Office BuildingsThanks to the adoption of the new IEEE 100W PoE standard, a ton of new PoE applications have emerged, as more power-hungry devices are now compatible with PoE technology. By utilizing all four twisted pairs in a PoE cable, the 100W PoE standard can deliver more power than traditional PoE and PoE+, with improved efficiency and reduced channel losses. Multiple devices can be optimized with the low-voltage PoE cable infrastructure by linking them together in a daisy-chain, further reducing power consumption and installation overhead. Through the use of 100W PoE, devices like digital signage displays, point-of-sale systems, LCD televisions, and computer monitors can be powered with PoE cables. Evidently, these devices are commonplace in modern offices.
PoE Applications in Office BuildingsPoE LED lighting fixtures are transforming the way engineers and electricians install lighting systems in offices and other commercial settings. Conveniently enough, even legacy lighting fixtures in old buildings can quickly and easily be retrofitted with LEDs and sensors that are compatible with PoE smart control features. Moreover – since PoE networks don't require the installation of power outlets near each device endpoint – installing a PoE system is much faster to install and deploy than legacy networks. This means commercial buildings are ideal candidates for PoE lighting and automation, as it can be quickly installed and easily retrofitted into existing network configurations. For example, smart sensors connected to the building’s network can be used to turn lights on and off when someone enters or exits a room, when a door opens or closes, or even via pressure sensors in the floor. The possibilities are endless. Furthermore, PoE technology also improves the quality of the light with smoother intensity dimming functions and dynamically adjustable lighting color options to provide a more comfortable and productive working environment. Further still, building operators have full access to sensor-based occupancy reporting, air quality, temperature, real-time energy consumption metrics, and other environmental monitoring. Additionally, PoE allows for easy convergence and integration with existing automation systems in older buildings. Engineers even have the ability to implement digital zoning of different sections of the building. This provides the flexibility necessary to optimize the building zones for different use cases and facilitates easy re-zoning for different use cases further down the line. Thanks to PoE’s ability to distribute power and network signals to devices, lights, motorized blinds, sensors, and other devices are now becoming digital devices that can be configured, grouped together, and controlled in one central location on the network. As far as manageability is concerned, network controlled lighting with PoE and IoT allows building operators to take full control of their lighting systems. The ability to seamlessly migrate lighting controls to an IP-based framework is a tremendous advantage. Lighting is being transformed into a service that IoT-enabled buildings can control along with other building functions. PoE switches are being used to power and connect sensor nodes, wall dimmers, luminaires, and other local devices in an office building. Each switch is connected to these devices with a traditional Cat 5 or Cat 6 cable, which makes for easy power distribution to local devices. Better control aside, the synergistic integration of PoE lighting into the building’s network also leads to colossal energy savings, improved occupant comfort, and even improved security. Thanks to PoE lighting’s outstanding output per watt of power, using PoE LED lighting fixtures to replace traditional fluorescent lighting is incredibly cost effective when compared to other lighting technologies.
ConclusionAll in all, PoE technology in combination with IoT is revolutionizing the commercial industry, especially in office buildings. Installing PoE technology is cheaper, more efficient, and more effective than legacy networks. PoE also is instrumental in creating safer, more comfortable, and more productive working environments in office buildings. Even better, engineers can use the data aggregated by sensors in different building zones to optimize the network, which can then be used to further improve the network and reduce power consumption.
Networking Obstacles in the Healthcare IndustryThe healthcare industry faces many obstacles, specifically with regards to IT and networking. Today, IT personnel in the healthcare industry are tasked with:
- Ensuring patient privacy
- Using energy efficient hardware
- Leverage technology for a competitive advantage
- Boost overall network performance
Healthcare PoE SolutionsLuckily, PoE solves many of the problems listed above. Power over Ethernet is a powerful tool – it is scalable, flexible, efficient, secure, and best of all, it’s cheaper than traditional networking alternatives. Moreover, PoE can solve many of the networking issues healthcare facilities are facing today, especially when coupled with the power of IoT.
SecurityA managed PoE switch can be used to set up IP security and surveillance cameras, Wireless Access Points (WAPs) and VoIP telephones. Additionally, many managed switches can be used to create secure VLANs, which are more secure than a traditional network. Since VLANs segment a network, they create several different broadcast domains, each of which permits isolated traffic to each domain. Simultaneously, the network’s bandwidth, availability, and security are increased.
Energy EfficiencyPoE switches and PoE hubs can be used to monitor, reduce and control power usage, offering network administrators a huge opportunity to easily reduce energy consumption and, as a consequence, cut costs as well.
FlexibilityLike many other settings, flexibility is crucial when it comes to networking. Since PoE-enabled computers, WAPs, IP Cameras, and other PDs don’t need to be connected to a power outlet, they can be installed in any location where they are needed. Furthermore, moving a PoE computer proves equally painless.
IoT TechnologyIoT is also becoming ever more prevalent in the healthcare industry. For example, IoT based medical devices – such as an infusion pump, also known as a smart pump – are being used to administer medication without the presence of a doctor or a nurse. Electronic patient monitors are another prime example of IoT applications in healthcare. All of these IoT devices can be easily powered and operated via PoE.
PoE LimitationsEvidently, PoE has a whole host of benefits – it is a scalable, reliable, and efficient way to establish a secure network in a healthcare setting. Unfortunately, even PoE technology has its limitations. Here are some of PoE’s main drawbacks:
Installation CostEven though PoE is cheaper than traditional networking methods in the long run, healthcare facilities will still have to bear the brunt of the initial installation cost. An old network relying on non-PoE switches would have to either:
- Trash their existing infrastructure and reoutfit their network with PoE compatible switches
- Install PoE hubs to continue using their existing infrastructure