From a forward-thinking perspective, the business of connecting networks is about to undergo a revolutionary shift. In the future, your office could operate not just as a collection of internet ports and wireless signals, but as systems of automated devices and behavioral sensors integrated into our daily work lives. To accommodate those features, your company will need even more robust network planning to ensure that systems stay live and properly functioning—no matter what your building tech throws at them.
In an ideal world, sensored and wireless networks would demonstrate the same level of high performance under any conditions. Regardless of your building’s layout or your access point locations, you want the same clear signal from anywhere on site. But networks don’t exist in a vacuum. Like anything, they must contend with all of life’s real-world frustrations: traffic, interference, and physical obstacles—all of which can make a good network go sour fast.
Optimal placement helps users avoid hiccups, which is why our installers perform wireless network site surveys before they determine a final design. We understand that spotty coverage can mean the difference between client success and a meeting disaster, so we do our best to prevent unreliable networking. Our site surveys are thorough and well planned, allowing us to simulate real-world situations—before they occur. And when problems do occur, our sophisticated tools allow us to quickly identify the source of the issue to get you back online as quickly as possible.
The Potential Applications of Building Automation Networks
While applications for smart buildings are still being defined, especially as IoT technology becomes ever more refined, the commercial applications for smart devices and sensored networks are plenty. For many sites, this will mean integrating a more robust automated security network, wherein surveillance systems, locks, and other protective features communicate with one another and automatically adjust to user behaviors and behavioral data collected and analyzed in real-time.
Building systems, like lighting controls and air conditioning, may be further integrated with occupancy sensors and behavioral detectors—and pull in real-time energy pricing—to make for more efficient, cost-effective, and energy-smart building management. Other safety features, such as smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and elevators could be automatically scheduled for periodic maintenance—without relying on human input.
Looking even further into the future, user-integrated location-based services could potentially help offices run more efficiently. Occupancy sensors might instantly communicate what rooms were available for an impromptu meeting, for instance, or indicate the closest free parking spot in the garage. Analytics from device performance and user behaviors could be leveraged for more precise usage reporting and budget forecasts. All the while, cloud computing and machine learning may make user interaction minimal.
And those are just the general uses—there are hundreds of other industry-specific applications that may make your work life easier and more efficient, all of it running on sophisticated digital networks.
Where Do Site Surveys Fit into the Smart Building Equation?
Most devices will communicate wirelessly in order to serve automatic functions and process user data. Although it sometimes seems like the internet works like magic, it’s of course a lot more complicated. Internet connection relies on intricate networks of wireless signals (also known as radio waves) to transmit information around the globe. That process, although scientific, is actually pretty magical. Patterns of electricity and magnetism are decoded by your network from thousands of miles away, where they show up on your computer first as code, and then are translated into the websites and web products we know and use every day.
Those patterns of electricity and magnetism are where the trouble comes in—if your installer doesn’t do their due diligence, that is. Any number of products that also use radio waves, like microwaves, wireless phones, and lighting occupancy sensors, can interrupt your network signal, weakening its strength and causing delays. In fact, in some cases, even your human workforce can cause issues; bodies frequently absorb wireless signals and muffle your network.
Site surveys allow us to place wireless access points in the spots where they’ll be most useful, providing the broadest range of coverage. Before we do any work on a site, we initiate methodical, step-by-step tests using advanced industry tools, which combined make up our network site survey. Wireless survey site software allows us to merge the building floor plans and wiring, and create simulations and measure for potential interference, well before we start adding access points.
Additionally, a well-integrated and thought-out network like this allows you to avoid potential issues and custom design your network for optimal activity today. But it also makes it possible to plan for future smart networks when the time comes. Designing your system with one of Taylored’s technicians ensures that it is laid out according to network conventions that can be easily integrated as wireless network sensor protocols are developed. We offer scalable operations that can be increased as machine-to-machine interfacing grows and new features are added on.
Furthermore, planning and management through a certified technician ensures that your network stays safe—which may be crucial as more daily operations go from manual to automated. We not only ensure that networks are developed using up-to-date protocols, our monitoring services can make sure there is no unusual activity on networks, as well, keeping your company’s sensitive data protected.
What Goes into a Wireless Network Site Survey?
We won’t get into all the technical details here—after all, our technicians go through extensive training to understand network ins and outs—but here’s a high-level look at what goes into a network site survey.
- We examine building floorplans to check for physical obstacles: walls, hallways, elevators, and other features that could cause interruptions.
- We leverage testing tools, like AirMagnet, to accurately monitor wireless signals and single out sources of interference.
- Using RF planning software, we create a map of your coverage, a physical representation of what your ideal network range would look like.
- We combine all this analysis to determine the best places for wireless access points and identify all possible issues down the line.
We repeat this process as many times as we need to, setting different access points in our simulation and resetting them to optimize coverage. We test as many times as it takes until we get it right!
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Some Additional Benefits to Predictive Site Surveys
Besides avoiding network interruptions, site surveys have additional practical advantages for your building planning and budgeting. Using predictive software to design a network plan before implementation helps you budget for the hardware and labor you’ll need to create a WLAN network in your building. By integrating CAD designs and building blueprints, technicians can create a visual representation of your network before your building is even constructed. Our team generates a detailed report with an estimate of your network costs so there are no financial surprises.
Better project planning means higher network performance—and less time diagnosing interruptions down the line. That kind of seamless communication keeps your organization running like a well-oiled machine. Or should we say, a well-networked machine!