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Making the Smart Move: Your Guide to Smart Building Sensors

environmental sensors

You have no doubt heard of the industrial revolution; that transition to new manufacturing processes occuring in the 1800s. We are now in a period called the information revolution, where data, 5G telecommunications networks and sensors can be embedded from anywhere and will continue to grow and develop as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Data from smart building systems are already assisting in energy conservation. Moreover, it can also help with productivity and employee retention.

Continue reading to learn about the various types of sensors and the advantages they provide.

The Emergence of Smart Buildings

Smart buildings are technology-embedded structures that are seen as the future of commercial real estate because they enable new degrees of personalized interactions between a building and its occupants.

Essentially, smart buildings include real-time feedback mechanisms that allow them to anticipate changes in their environment and the demands of their occupants.

Types of Smart Building Sensors and their Benefits

The world of smart building sensors can be perplexing: there are many options available, ranging from the most basic to the most technical. Below is a list to introduce the common types of sensors available and explain the main benefits of each.

PoE Lighting Sensors

Lighting systems that use Power over Ethernet (PoE) are considered smart lighting. They provide more control over the light quality, cut energy expenditures, and extend the life of bulbs significantly.

They may also collect data using motion sensors to detect the presence of people and signal networks to turn off when not in use, as in a school or hospital context. LED light sources are also connected to the internet using PoE smart technology, allowing end-users to access lighting systems and platforms via smartphones remotely.

Motion/Occupancy Sensors

Motion sensors detect physical movement in a particular area, be it a human, an animal, or an object, and convert it into an electric signal. For years, motion detection has been employed in the security industry to identify intruders. Motion or occupancy sensors detect infrared energy or send out ultrasonic or radio waves, reflected and measured off a moving object.

Today, you can also use them to automate building functions, such as heating and lighting, based on whether or not a space is occupied, lowering energy usage by up to 50%.

Temperature and Humidity Sensors

Temperature and Humidity sensors, among others, make up the HVAC sensors.

Simply put, temperature sensors detect temperature changes by measuring heat. They have been used to manage things like heating and air conditioning for years, but with the rise of the Internet of Things, they have found a whole new set of applications. Temperature sensors are now also used for temperature-sensitive machinery and equipment to prevent them from overheating, extending the machinery’s and equipment’s lifespan.

On the other hand, humidity sensors manage heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in both homes and businesses. They are used in factories, hospitals, museums, greenhouses, and weather stations, and anywhere else where moisture is a pressing concern.

These HVAC sensors not only keep the ideal temperature for people’s comfort, but they can also prevent potentially harmful situations.

Air Quality Sensors

Air quality sensors detect the presence of various gases and monitor changes in air quality. They are utilized in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and mining industries to monitor air quality, detect toxic or combustible gases, and monitor hazardous gases.

While many applications are concerned with safety, the consequences of poor air quality are not often severe nor apparent. Rising carbon dioxide levels inside many of today’s well-insulated buildings can cause stale, stuffy air and complaints like fatigue and headaches. Moreover, it can affect people’s comfort, well-being, and productivity.

Employers have a responsibility to create a healthy working environment, and therefore expect that more businesses will utilize environmental monitoring to manage temperature and air quality.

Considerations for Wi-Fi Deployment in Smart Buildings

With the help of IT professionals, building owners wishing to deploy wireless IoT devices and sensors throughout their premises will want to pay close attention to their Wi-Fi connectivity, performance, and security concerns.

Here are four ways to strengthen modern smart building Wi-Fi installations to accommodate today’s smart buildings’ expanding connectivity needs.

  1. Complete Wall-to-Wall Coverage

    In the early days of in-building Wi-Fi, the focus was on locations where occupants flocked to congregate. Physical security and other building-management teams increasingly expect complete wall-to-wall coverage that extends to outdoor areas, thanks to the proliferation of wireless IoT sensors and increased use of mobile-device-equipped facilities.

  2. Cabling, PoE, and Multi-Gig Switching

    Twisted pair cabling improvements may be required at the physical layer to get the most out of contemporary Wi-Fi 6 and 6E technologies. Updating cabling to Category 6A or a higher rating will get the best performance from a new Wi-Fi deployment. This option enables switches to upgrade to multi-gigabit Ethernet technologies, which transfer data at 2.5 or 5 Gbits/sec from the AP to the cable LAN. This option removes the possibility of a network bandwidth bottleneck, which could harm overall network performance.

  3. Antenna Selection

    Most enterprise-grade APs have built-in internal antennas or BNC connectors that can attach to an external antenna.

    You created Wi-Fi access points with built-in antennas for traditional office area deployments with physical barriers such as drywall, cubicle barriers, office-grade doors, and glass. Antenna types including yagi, panel, and parabolic may be a better alternative for coverage and performance in spaces with concrete or plaster walls or huge metal machinery or when you must spread a Wi-Fi signal in a specified direction.

  4. Secure Micro-Segmentation

    Businesses should implement strict Wi-Fi access restrictions to limit which devices on the wireless network can communicate with one another. Low-cost wireless IoT devices and sensors are known for having obsolete and vulnerable firmware.

    Many wireless LAN architectures use micro-segmentation to mitigate this risk by detecting specific devices/sensors and dynamically applying security access policies to those devices. In the event of a malware outbreak, the infected machines in this segment would be limited to a small fraction of the broader network, limiting the malware’s potential to spread.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, smart building technologies have a lot of definite benefits, and they will only move forward with the continuous drive toward a ‘smarter’ way of life. If you are considering the implementation of smart building sensors, consider Network Cabling Services.

For more than 40 years, Network Cabling Services has been delivering high-quality structured cabling, fiber optics, audiovisual equipment, physical security equipment, and PoE lighting service solutions to address today’s ever-changing networking environment. For more information, contact Network Cabling Services today.

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