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FEATURE


A QUESTION O


Why, in our digital age, where smartphones are the underpinning technology behind so many IoT se government and business can provide seaml


The requirements of a modern building have changed dramatically in recent years. Not so very long ago a building simply had to provide a space for people to live, learn, work or visit. Now they are expected to be sustainable, eco-friendly, communicate problems, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills by becoming power producers rather than power users. In other words, they have to be smart.


A vast range of initiatives are already in place to reduce the carbon footprint of modern buildings, including the global drive for all buildings to be nZEB (near zero energy building) by the end of 2020 and net zero carbon by 2030 through the increased deployment of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels or integrated photovoltaics. However, another feature of an eco-friendly building, according to the World Green Building Council, is the “Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction and operation.”


It would not be unreasonable to assume that mobile connectivity falls under this umbrella because, after all, smartphones are integral to every aspect of modern- day living and are the go-to device for controlling smart building automation systems. However, a national survey carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce revealed that 70% of commercial buildings are blighted


32 | TOMORROW’S FM


by full or partial not-spots in their mobile coverage, whereby impacting basic business tasks such as holding a conversation or accessing the internet. The situation is just as bad for private buildings and in the homes.


Why then in our digital age, where smartphones are the underpinning technology behind so many IoT services that facilitate smart building automation services, do so many buildings fail to provide satisfactory levels of coverage, when communication is regarded as the fourth utility, along with water, gas and electricity?


The situation is understandable in older properties because mobile coverage was simply never a consideration in their initial design. They are often heavily reliant on stone, concrete and brick, all of which are renowned for impacting signals, especially in densely populated urban environments.


As for new buildings, strict building regulations and modern construction materials can greatly impact indoor mobile coverage; Energy Performance Certificates, high standards of soundproofing and safety, insulation requirements, treated glass, galvanized steel and reinforced concrete are all great for reducing a building’s overall carbon footprint, but they don’t allow RF waves to penetrate inside. The higher frequency signals (which are often used for 4G and now 5G) are the worst effected, and the deeper inside a building you


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