We went through some of the pointers in my previous blog outlining the challenges facing the selection of the right wireless protocol. In this commentary I want to expand upon those comments and add in some additional insights that may prove useful.

It has been predicted that by the year 2020, which is just over a year away that we are expected to reach 30 Billion connected devices. Now that’s a lot of devices and if you consider how many devices the average home and business has then you can see this is not so unbelievable a figure.

The new technology brings a number of benefits and will continue to evolve over the years to deliver a smarter working and living environment. Most of us agree this is an incredible opportunity for many of us and that by embracing new technologies we can be part of the new connected world.

So, the question is how we achieve this connectivity, how do we achieve true integration. In a pure technical discussion this isn’t so complicated if we accept that we have to use a platform that allows for the connection of many disparate technologies. The universal translator that takes any language and put it into a format that can be understood by everyone.

That universal translator is the Internet a globally connected network system that uses TCP/IP to transmit data via various types of media. Wired or wireless this network allows the various connected devices to be connected and visualised as one webpage or software script that provides the user with access to the control and management of various devices. Additionally, information on performance or critical operating data can be stored or actioned upon in the event of a non-compliance.

Infinitely scalable and suitable for all forms of media the web delivers via the Cloud unprecedented access to our potential 30 Billion connected devices. At a local level this connection may be wired or wireless, it doesn’t matter to the system, it’s purely what is appropriate for that application.

We have to accept that in most buildings we will have a number of different systems operating using a range of different wired and wireless protocols and that for these devices to truly interact with each other then software needs to be in place that allows these devices to communicate.

Ideally, we should strive for open protocols as these provide the end client the freedom to choose hardware that is appropriate for their application. The amendment to IEC62386 Part 104 will deliver the first Wireless Open protocol interface to DALI-2 and as such I would encourage anyone specifying a new building to use this international standard as the basis for their Wireless connectivity at a device level.

However, we live in the real world and there are some interesting and very good proprietary systems in the market that have a place and can provide a high level of control.

These technologies shouldn’t be excluded as they may well be the right solution for that application and there may be no open protocol solution available at that time.  It’s a balancing act and one that must be weighed up against the long-term cost of ownership. There is always a risk with a proprietary system, what would happen if the company should fail or be purchased by another.

Unlike a smart home where you have a few connected devices, Commercial buildings are quite different and have a degree of complexity that will evolve still further over time. I have mentioned in the past that our procurement processes are perhaps the number one restriction to truly smart buildings as everyone is working to a budget and sometimes the not to obvious technologies get value engineered.

Key to delivering a smart building is planning and specification and this also applies to wireless systems. True you can place a wireless device where you need it but the structure of the building and materials used will impact on the range and effectiveness of the wireless network.

Electricity is still required to power the luminaires and in most instances the wireless sensors as well so provision must be made to provide power close to the location of the wireless devices.

Plan in a certain amount of redundancy when designing you scheme and if you are working on a Design and Build project then clearly define an infrastructure that is open and configurable  ideally via the Cloud; although not essential.

Above all don’t specify a dated system that locks you into a technology that by its age and manufacture is restrictive and therefore expensive to install and maintain.

Technologies such as DALI-2 as promoted by the lighting industry through The Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA) have defined true interoperable lighting and provide a structure for both current and evolving smart lighting. Providing both a wired and wireless frame work that supports wireless technology such as Bluetooth to DALI-2. I strongly recommend you visit their website https://www.digitalilluminationinterface.org  and see for yourself how the Lighting Industry is addressing the question of smart lighting.

Client buy in is the obvious way to deliver a cohesive controls strategy and working with the client can deliver truly inspirational  building systems. Where a client isn’t directly involved then the challenge of maintaining a smart framework lies within the specification of the lighting as a service and this is where we can help.

As we look to connect some of the 30 Billion devices that will be in the market in 2020 we need to have the appropriate framework in place and sufficient flexibility to allow for future expansion.

At zencontrol we have created a frame work that is based on DALI-2 wired and wireless and as such can help to create a specification that will support either subnet whilst being true to the principles of DALI-2 and interoperability.

Wireless is the greatest opportunity we have to add value to our businesses but only if we do the groundwork and install systems that can embrace the new open technologies and of course some of the better proprietary networks.

As always if you want to know more or want to sit down and have a chat about what we can do for you with Lighting Controls and Emergency lighting then please give me a call or drop me an e mail.

Stewart B Langdown FSLL


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