We could trot out the statistics about the billions of Internet-connected devices, objects, sensors, corporate assets and other “things” that comprise the Internet of Things (IoT), but you get the general idea. It’s massive, and it’s growing quickly. While insights gained from IoT data represent enormous business value, the size and complexity of the IoT is forcing organizations to rethink a number of IT functions, including structured cabling.

A primary subcategory of the IoT involves building automation, energy management and smart lighting systems. Security, fire and safety, and audio/video systems are also being incorporated into the IP network, making them part of the IoT as well. The value lies not just in controlling building systems but in the collection and sharing of data that can make operations more efficient.

Having an IoT solution that integrates and enables the exchange of data between these systems delivers a number of business benefits. The IoT enables organizations to make better use of technology, reduce waste and limit power consumption, which translates to lower energy and maintenance costs. Greater energy efficiency can help you earn credit towards having your facility LEED-certified as a green building.

IoT integration also simplifies infrastructure and asset management, reduces operational expenses, and improves workplace safety. Imagine walking into work, being automatically recognized as an authorized user, and having the lights automatically turn on, the office temperature automatically adjust to your preferences, and network access automatically enabled. All these improvements and efficiencies enhance the value of a building and accelerate ROI compared to traditional infrastructure.

Smart lighting is a prime example of how businesses can benefit by connecting systems to the IoT. LED lighting consumes about half the wattage of traditional fluorescent lighting and has a an average lifespan that’s more than six times longer than fluorescent. However, perhaps the greatest value of LED lighting is that it can be connected to the IoT. This allows organizations to remotely and automatically control lighting usage and output based on time of day, sunlight levels, whether a room is occupied and other factors.

These solutions require Power over Ethernet (PoE) connectivity, which provides electricity through standard CAT5 or CAT6 data cables rather than power cords. Organizations can connect devices to the network through the same low-cost, low-voltage cables that deliver electricity. When you eliminate heavy-duty copper and wire conduit from the equation, you eliminate complicated installation rules and the need to bring in a licensed electrician to ensure cables are installed to code. Moves, changes and adds are easier, faster and less expensive because IT personnel can do it themselves instead of hiring an outside contractor.

Successful integration of multiple systems on the IoT and the use of PoE connectivity require a thoughtful approach to structured cabling. One study found that cabling represents just 2 percent of network costs but can cause up to half of network problems. With the IoT, the cabling backbone is more important than ever. In the next post, we’ll discuss the benefits of a zone cabling deployment strategy for IoT solutions.

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