I recently read an article about smart buildings and how these will be split into two distinct categories; Highly Integrated or Decentralised.

The Highly Integrated solution is based on a single network and would be a highly connected building. In essence what we all think a typical Internet of Things building will look like.

The second option of Decentralised network relied on multiple IoT platforms operating around single assets. Its a way of categorising networks in to two very distinct groups and in some respects I understand the philosophy behind such a proposal.

If I have a preference its probably for the Decentralised proposal as this gives a degree of autonomy to the individual networks but in reality the decision for which style of integration will be determined by factors outside the control of the building user.

The Highly integrated solution works where there is very little variation so think of this as a direct replacement for current controls platforms. There are very few variations in the network and as such this would provide a very simple controls solution. Smarter than the current lighting solutions; well some at least. I suggest you check out the zencontrol platform www.zencontrol.co.uk as this does show how we at zencontrol are bridging the gap with DALI-2 and BACnet to achieve a Highly Integrated Solution that works and is both open and scalable.

The challenge with Highly Integrated Solutions is that the communications between devices must be assured and therefore within the world of lighting we must focus on DALI-2 as the platform for the subnet that provides data on the individual components that form the backbone of this solution.

Security is a key feature of both solutions and with the Highly Integrated Network we have a challenge in maintaining the security of the connected devices. This is further exacerbated by the developments in wireless controls. These will become a feature of both the Highly Integrated and Decentralised Networks but are likely to be adopted within the Highly Integrated Networks sooner as these will most likely form the base infrastructure of smart buildings. Adherence to a standard is essential and therefore IEC 62386 Part 104 should set the benchmark for integration as this is the wireless gateway standard for DALI as proposed by the lighting industry itself through the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA).

Working with other wireless systems is not prohibited but the selection of the service is critical as continuity must be assured by all.

The Decentralised Networks have the same challenges but have the added flexibility that they can support multiple IoT platforms so natural redundancy is built into their architecture. Larger and more complex buildings such as Airports and mass transit railways would benefit from a Decentralised solution.

Value engineering is a curse of the modern world with decision made on pure cost without a thought to security and performance. Wireless devices using Bluetooth will be a key feature of the connected world and the initial interface proposal from DiiA will promote Bluetooth to DALI-2. All Bluetooth products or interfaces listed on the DiiA website must be tested and validate but products that are seen as an alternative wont have necessarily gone through that process. Specification is key here and the designers and end client must stick firmly to their specification to avoid what could turn into a real challenge.

Both systems work and it’s down to personal choice or on how the space will be used. In reality the solution is always that little more complex as new build and refurb have different criteria so wireless wins hands down on refurb but may be limited by the very fabric of the building itself so partner wisely and choose a platform that is embracing both platforms zencontrol.

Stewart B Langdown FSLL

e stewart.langdown@zencontrol.co.uk

m +44(0)7774821093