In the context of building construction, what exactly do these two words mean? Are they important?
Well, like so many things, it depends on the situation. If for example we’re referring to IT infrastructure within a building and building owner is a multi-level Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA), a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) in his/her spare time, and happens to have passing knowledge of the dozens of communications infrastructure standards written by ANSI/TIA, IEEE, BICSI and others, then there’s a fighting chance the building owner knows what’s involved in designing, specifying and creating other construction documents necessary to have the IT infrastructure installed.
Yeah, right. How many of those guys are out there?
If the building owner, more typically is a land developer, real estate tycoon, REIT administrator, school board, hospital board or a 30 something inheritor of Daddy’s multiple properties scattered around Mother Earth, then chances are better than good that the owner hasn’t a clue as to what’s involved in being familiar with all things IT infrastructure related. And why should they be? They’ve got bigger, or certainly other, fish to fry. The term core competency, for some reason, springs to mind.
Let’s assume that the building owner is more familiar with the starting lineup of the Leafs, Jays, TFC, Argos, with Milos Raonic’s recent record at the majors or with the balance sheet at the business he/she runs. This is a very reasonable assumption given what I’ve seen at various site visits as we pursue work at Fancom Communications Engineering. Based on the atrocious IT infrastructure standard of installation I’ve seen at dozens of buildings, at least one, or possibly several of these statements are true:
1. Building Owners have absolutely no clue as to the need for or importance of well designed and installed IT infrastructure.
2. Building Owners are so flush with cash that they can afford to spend tons of it repeatedly repairing, replacing or otherwise upgrading IT infrastructures in their buildings.
3. Building Owners have tenants who place zero importance on internet accessibility, speed, bandwidth or uptime, still have rotary phones, choose cursively written letters as their mainstay method of communication and issue hand written sales receipts with carbon copies. These same building owners do not use email or text messaging, own debit/credit cards, smart phones or TVs.
4. The Architect acting on behalf of the Owner, simply forgot to give prior thought to the communications networks in the building in the same way that electrical, HVAC and water systems are prioritized. Communications systems? Sure, we can squeeze them in at the end after the slab is poured, steel is erected and walls/ceilings are in place. Interference checking? YES, PLEASE!! We should be more concerned with mere PRESENCE checking for IT comms systems than how it might “interfere” with these other systems. Even the term interference checking is combative. It should more appropriately be called coordination checking or systems collaboration. Architects please take note.
5. Money was tighter than expected, some financial choices had to be made, and what better way is there to save a buck than saving money on something nobody ever sees, the stuff behind the walls – we can’t possibly scrimp on the lobby design with the potted silk flowers and faux ferns because EVERYBODY sees THAT – first impressions are important after all. Never mind the fact that the phones don’t work and the security cameras are always on the fritz or the internet is up and down like a toilet seat at a mixed party. The lobby is so inviting. Tell that to the Prez when his internet isn’t working and he has last minute birthday present on-line shopping to do for his Bride. You’ll be cleaning the lobby or worse, cleaning out your desk.
We could very easily turn the above 5 items into a Top 10, 20 or 50 List of reasons that account for why IT Communications as an integral building system has been rendered the Rodney Dangerfield of the building industry – “we don’t get no respect”.
When you consider the importance of well designed and installed IT infrastructure to any Fortune 1000 company, it’s alarming that the trunk slammers out there are allowed to install cabling, integrate security systems and pass themselves off as having some level of design expertise that says they’re going to do a good job, provide reliable, situation appropriate equipment, be responsible if something goes wrong, and stand behind their work. When two Bob’s and their truck show up to design your IT infrastructure, ask to see their professional liability or errors and omissions insurance. Oh, they left it at home?
Back to the issue of Owner’s responsibility.
If, as is so often mentioned, IT Communications infrastructure is indeed the Owner’s responsibility, one of the following scenarios should take place.
- The Owner should ask his Architect or General Contractor, why, if electrical, water and air systems are not the responsibility of the Owner, why is IT Infrastructure? Should not the IT infrastructure of a building also be considered integral to the building and treated as an equal citizen? There is not a significant business today that doesn’t require the applications that are enabled with an IT infrastructure.
- The Owner could separately contract for expertise in the design and installation of their required IT communications infrastructure to support all voice, video, data, video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, audio visual, paging, emergency notification, VoIP more other telephony, teleconferencing, POS systems, internet access, BAS and other internet dependant services. The owner should then insist that the IT Communications Engineer has an equal place at the discussion table with architects, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer and all other professional disciplines required to bring an Owner’s vision to reality.
- The Owner could hire an appropriate advocate consulting firm to act on their behalf and work with their Architect or General Contractor to see that all things IT communications infrastructure related are included, installed properly and meet the myriad number of standards and best business practices that apply to these systems.
Fancom does not believe it’s the Owner’s responsibility for IT infrastructure any more than they are responsible for the hot and cold water, running toilets, appropriate lighting or heating and cooling in the building. These should ALL be included in the project. If an Architect or General Contractor has been contracted to design and construct a building, identifying one sub-system of the building, and a crucial one at that, as somehow an optional extra, makes no sense at all.
Fancom Communications Engineering is a specialty consulting firm entirely focused on the design and specification of IT communications and electronic security infrastructure for design-bid-build or design-build opportunities in all sectors of building construction including schools, water/wastewater treatment facilities, data centres, museums, distribution centres, FTTH deployments, commercial and other multi-tenant spaces and more. Our RCDD accredited professional design staff are the professionals of choice for all voice, video, data and electronic security applications such as video surveillance and access control.
We can help in one of two ways.
Call us before you start your project and we’ll help you figure out what you need or discuss what you want – the two are different.
Or, we’d be happy to receive your call to discuss what’s not working and how to fix it because two Bob’s and their truck couldn’t deliver on your vision. This is the more expensive call. We won’t tell anyone if you have to make this call.
If you’re a building Owner and you’re less than familiar with what goes on behind the walls or up in the ceilings as far as IT goes, please give us a call. We’d be delighted to put our subject matter expertise and breadth of project experience to work for you.
I’m looking forward to your call.
Peter Leupen VP/GM (Retired) Fancom Communications Engineering O 905-990-4845
If you’d like more information on Network Security we would be happy to hear from you. We can be reached at 905-990-4845 or firstname.lastname@example.org Fancom Communications Engineering is the first step in assessing, planning and implementing or changing your secure network structure before intrusions happen! Contact us today to discuss.