Future proof

Buildings have to be made ready for the rise of technology. By William Newton

Across every industry, technology is transforming the way we work. From small businesses using Cloud based software, to companies running their entire business from e-commerce platforms, to organisations simply sending internal emails, traditional business operations have been digitally transformed with more efficient and innovative ways of working.

With this ever more crucial role for technology, dependence on connectivity grows. And that means that when the internet goes down, even the most basic business functions are jeopardised.

The gravity of having no internet access should not be underestimated. The story of a persevering group in a New York co-working space shows our changing priorities. This group continued to work through persistent outages in their plumbing and air conditioning. Yet when a construction worker cut through the building’s sole fibre optic cable, they abandoned the office until it was fixed.

The result of this growing reliance is that it has never been more important for organisations to find office space with fast, resilient internet. Nor has it been more important for developers to ensure that they are providing the necessary infrastructure to achieve this.

Building in better connectivity
Many developers have long invested in the needs of their current and future tenants by building great connectivity infrastructure. However, there has been a lot of uncertainty about which investments will make a marked improvement on the lived experience of the tenant.

This is no simple task. For new developments, the challenge is deciding how ambitious to be with the building’s infrastructure. Refurbishing a building creates a different challenge: how to invest in the connectivity infrastructure of an old or protected building that wasn’t built for today’s networks. And of top of both of these challenges is the question of how to communicate all the benefits to potential tenants.

Greater clarity for developers around industry standards has never been more important. That’s why we introduced the Wired Certification programme; to supply a trusted, independent mark. This provides transparency into a property’s digital infrastructure and its capacity to meet business’s technology needs.

Making the right investments
In order to make the right investments it is important to understand the primary digital connectivity concerns of tenants: resilience, speed of install, and price.

Much of this starts with infrastructure. Multiple diverse communications intakes, secure and appropriately sized comms rooms, and stacked vertical risers that transcend the entire height of the building are all crucial to this. One great example of a well-designed space is The Colmore Building in Birmingham, which installed three separate communications intakes alongside three fully diverse risers, providing the possibility of full redundancy to businesses.

For new developments, it’s also important to consider wireless connectivity. Radio Frequency surveys can give a good indication of the need for a Distributed Antennae System or a small cell solution.

A further vital feature beyond the physical infrastructure is the building’s readiness from a legal perspective. The Standard Wayleave Toolkit developed by the City of London, with consultation from developers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), provides a uniform starting point for otherwise onerous wayleave negotiations. This can reduce the speed of install greatly, preventing the unenviable situation of whole companies working from 3G dongles for the first few months in a new office Similarly, engaging early with ISPs to understand if they would be willing to serve a building if they received an order can save time for tenants down the line. Utility site assessments can give a good idea of which carriers are nearby.

Future proofing developments
It is impossible to build a successful property without looking at what future trends will dominate the market and ensuring that your building meets it. Very much on the horizon are Smart Buildings, all of which will require systems platforms to serve as their central nervous systems. These will need high speed and resilient internet connectivity.

Looking to industry benchmarks will help developers meet the necessary technology demands and to keep pace with the industry as it evolves. Energy Performance Certificates have already demonstrated the ability to drive change by increasing awareness about energy efficiency. We hope Wired Certification will similarly support developers in making the right digital investments.

From start-ups trying to move fast and break things to established companies managing global operations, all companies are tech companies now. For developers trying to get serious about tenants needs, connectivity has never been more important.

William Newton is EMEA Director at WiredScore the preeminent international platform that rates and provides transparency on the infrastructure, connectivity and technological capacity of office buildings. First developed in New York in 2013 by leaders in real estate, technology and telecommunications, WiredScore launched in the UK last year with an endorsement from the Mayor of London to stimulate conversation around and provide a trusted benchmark for commercial property connectivity.

For more information, please see www.wiredscore.co.uk