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Benefits of open standards to smart lighting

Posted: 30 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lighting  automation  open standards  Enterprise Internet of Things  E-IoT 

For End-users:
 • Can be installed "on top of" or in place of hard-wired networks or outdated systems
 • Uses "mesh" technology that provides redundant paths of communication
 • Supports thousands of devices in a single network
 • Interoperability between a variety of building automation devices with building management systems regardless of manufacturer
 • New services can be introduced in a controlled manner to scale as requirements grow

Proprietary vs. open
Regardless of the particular protocol, the primary advantage of open standards-based technology is the flexibility it provides to end users. They are no longer tied to one vendor; rather, they can select from a number of equipment or device providers as long as it supports the protocol used within the building. Standards work best when large communities of innovators use them to build their technology. Open systems with vendor interoperability provide lower initial costs to end users and more innovation on the part of vendors trying to differentiate themselves for the large available market. When a single lighting vendor controls the specifications and deployment of its own standard, innovation is suppressed.

The inherent problem with proprietary systems is that their closed nature requires customers to stay within a vendor's ecosystem if they want to realise the benefits. Once an initial investment is made in a proprietary system, customers may feel like they are held hostage. Customers can't easily shift to another technology or standard without an additional large investment. For example:
 • Customers can't easily replace new components or more advanced technology from other innovators, which reduces the competitive pressure for a vendor to enhance its technology.
 • When the vendor makes certain components obsolete, customers may be leveraged into upgrades that aren't right for them.
 • If the customer expands its footprint, it must stay with the vendor or lose the advantage of controlling all lighting and other building devices under a single umbrella.

As with proprietary systems, open standards-driven systems test and validate for solution integration, but customers also benefit from:
 • The flexibility of use of best-in-class components to build their lighting and building control infrastructure, across multiple vendors.
 • The freedom to pursue an upgrade path of their own design.
 • The benefit of a fully-competitive market, including faster innovation and lower prices, due to vendors working to one-up each other to maintain their competitive edge.

The Essendant (formerly United Stationers) office in Sacramento, CA uses open standards-based wireless networked control.

Interoperability and E-IoT
Organisations that start their lighting control investment with technology based on open standards allow themselves flexibility in what products they can buy. They also future-proof their infrastructure for coming advancements, regardless of which vendor sells them. Wireless controls based on open standards are enabling the roadmap for smart buildings and create the foundation for the E-IoT. Open wireless standards will play a tremendous role in the future of lighting and building energy management, because more than half of networked lighting control investments will come from retrofit projects in the near future.

Today, many organisations that felt lighting control was out of reach are now in the market for upgrades. In addition to lighting, other high energy-consuming devices like thermostats, plug-loads, and fans are becoming more critical, requiring energy control due to changing energy regulations and mandates. The open standards discussion is extremely important because facilities managers have the opportunity to shape the future of lighting and building control for their business and the industry as a whole from the start. When organisations have an open lighting control network in place, there is very little additional investment needed to plug in other systems that use the same standard. The integration of software, low-cost sensors, and an interoperable wireless network is driving the proliferation of the E-IoT in commercial buildings and represents a giant leap forward on the path to the E-IoT.

About the author
Mandeep Khera is Vice President for Marketing and Channels at Daintree Networks Inc.

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