Driving experiences will be essential for networks of public places and educational institutions this year

Network infrastructure rose to prominence in 2021 as businesses, educational institutions, and public places competed for people’s time, energy, and money. Remote learning, setting up work from home and remote viewing of key events have all contributed to this trend, which will continue in 2022. Robust network access and connectivity will be essential to deliver new experiences as the emphasis will continue to be improved. student/worker/visitor experience. Let’s see how this trend of using digital capabilities to amplify experiences affects educational institutions, offices, hotels and other public places.

Digital learning transition in the classroom

COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to digital learning in schools, however, the true implementation of hybrid classrooms, distance learning and digital curricula is still in its infancy and expected to continue. The pandemic forced many organizations to adopt some of these technologies before they were ready, and the results were often unsatisfactory. Now, these educational institutions are going beyond their budgets to upgrade their facilities. To win in this field, schools and universities focus on flexible learning programs and try to attract and retain students by providing a student-centered campus experience.

The goal is to have hybrid learning environments in every classroom and conference room that engage both in-person and remote students. To enable a form of blended learning, classrooms should be equipped with microphones, cameras and video screens, and each student with a digital device. While implementation is possible, the challenge is to build the network infrastructure to support this vision.

As digital learning networks, in-building cellular, switching and cabling, and IoT systems come together and push IT and operational technology (OT) departments to communicate like never before, we are seeing a trend towards converged networks within each facility. Heating and cooling systems, lighting, smoke/steam detectors and electronic door locks are all migrating to IP networks, presenting a convergence challenge. For increased efficiency, some facilities will choose to merge the networks, while others will maintain separate control networks. Network providers should support both models.

Improved arenas to attract visitors and workers

The challenge for public venues is to drive activations – the number of times a facility is “activated” for non-sporting events, such as concerts and shows. Public places need to improve the on-site experience with an increasingly larger average TV and increasingly comfortable sofas. Some sites are expanding their range of mixed-use facilities; the Honda Center in Orange County, Calif., is adding an experience center with restaurants, shops and kids’ activities around its stadium, for example.

Venues will strive to enrich the visitor experience by improving convenience through contactless ticketing and concessions, providing online information about congestion in stalls or bathrooms, and performing automated check-in temperature for visitor safety. The sites will continuously share information with their visitors, as well as stream videos with remote fans.

Network connectivity is at the heart of it all. Sites will take a closer look at self-funded networking options like Wi-Fi. , we’ll see a lot more Wi-Fi networks in stadiums and convention centers.

Vendors can help with this change by providing advice on financial and operational models to site owners. Many sites will not deploy new networking equipment unless they have a clear understanding of how it will be funded and operated.

The office evolves

Forced to work from home by COVID, many workers are finding they prefer this to the daily commute. Employers are adopting these work styles to increase productivity while reducing costs. For example, companies are rethinking their real estate investments or restructuring existing office spaces to accommodate ad hoc working styles. However, with the growing number of employees likely to return to offices according to NASSCOM’s Return to Work Survey, employers with campuses are adding additional amenities such as on-site gyms and daycares to make them more attractive. for employees.

Businesses are also working harder to understand who is using a location and choosing locations that are more attractive and easier to get to. Employers need to understand how people use sites to determine which spaces are (or aren’t) being used, so they can reallocate space when needed. The new offices will be reconfigurable to accommodate changing employee preferences. The main idea is that companies get a better return on their real estate investments while giving remote staff a reason to log on when needed. Many companies have started to see success by hosting special events, for example, and remote employees often see them as networking opportunities that bring them into the office.

Even in an increasingly remote environment, organizations should not completely eliminate physical real estate for their employees, as office space is essential to establishing and maintaining corporate culture, even if its use seems different. from that of the past.

Hotels focus on guest experience

As business travel has declined due to remote working, hotels are looking for innovative ways to make their facilities more appealing to guests. They also compete with public places for meetings. To win business, hotels are rolling out faster and more ubiquitous Wi-Fi systems, subsidizing connectivity, and adding digital assets like big-screen TVs to attract events.

Additionally, hotels are using digital technologies to improve their efficiency. Electronic door locks are now commonplace, and larger properties have IP phone systems with online room service ordering, concierge services, and other conveniences. As hotels move to the cloud for guest services and applications, guest Internet and back-of-the-house systems are converging to IP networks for greater efficiency. There is also increased interest in security, with hotels adopting SD-WANs to help prevent hacking. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic in India has dramatically increased the use of contactless services by hotels, which was previously low.

All of this helps large hotel companies compete for brand loyalty and protect their investments over time. In terms of infrastructure, hotels rely on mobile operators to scale their macro networks, while Wi-Fi is used for in-building connectivity.

Trends that have emerged during the COVID period will be refined in 2022. In order to support their various activities, educational institutions, public places, offices and hotels will all need faster and more reliable wired and wireless networks. . The following year, we should see significant progress in modernizing the network.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


Janice G. Ball