TIA, IoT Community gear up for smarter buildings in IoT, 5G era

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) recently announced an agreement with the Internet of Things Community to work on accelerating the digital transformation of the IoT and further the development of smart buildings—and they have a lot of good reasons to collaborate.

One might even say they have at least 26 reasons—that’s how many wireless technologies are being deployed in buildings—and that doesn't include wired connectivity options.

As part of TIA’s smart buildings program, “we’ve identified at least 26 different technologies that can exist inside a building, and there’s probably more that we don’t know about,” said Harry Smeenk, TIA’s senior vice president of Technology Programs. “That’s just on the wireless side.”

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, MulteFire, CBRS, LoRa, NB-IoT, LTE-M, Ocean, Z-Wave—these are just a smattering of the wireless IoT technologies. While the TIA and IoT Community are technology and vendor agnostic, they have to consider how these technologies interact with one another. “We don’t pick one over the other,” he noted.

“It’s all about getting the solution in building and more importantly, the interoperability,” Smeenk told FierceWirelessTech. For example, if one technology causes interference when it’s within 10 feet of another, that’s a problem.

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The organizations want to help building owners so that when they're approached by someone who wants to install a particular technology, they're knowledgeable about how to react. In the works: ROI calculators for building owners/managers to use in assessing the various technologies. They also have to consider fiber, copper, Ethernet and power over Ethernet on the wired side.

TIA put a stake in the ground last year when it decided that its smart cities program is its smart buildings program, with smart buildings being the foundation for smart cities. Other programs address connected vehicles, artificial intelligence and robotics, to name a few.

The IoT Community is the largest IoT communications association in the world, and it has 23,000 members possessing a great deal of thought leadership and technical knowledge, Smeenk said. TIA has about 435 members that consist of suppliers and manufacturers in the information and communications technology industry.

TIA considers networking and connectivity as the fourth utility in a building, along with electricity, water and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. In fact, whereas a lot of office workers can go a couple hours without running water, the same often can’t be said for broadband.

Another important in-building factor to consider is FirstNet, the LTE network dedicated to first responders. First responders also need the ability to identify people’s location within buildings, including what floor they’re on—something that has been a challenge for the wireless industry. They're also interested in ways to hook up machines in buildings that directly connect back to a hospital, for example.

From TIA’s point of view, 5G is here and now, and “we’re very heavily involved in 5G,” Smeenk said. Densification is key to 5G, as well as moving computing and storage as close to the end user as possible, which is at the edge. “5G is hugely important,” and it has an impact on in-building coverage.