Posted in practice on May 12, 2015 8:24 am EDT

What the Internet of Things Means for Church Designers

In the past few years, IP-based technologies have made everything controllable over the network--which has blurred the lines between technologies. A must-read assessment to help you prepare for the future.

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TAGS: business, collaboration, convergence, design, education, practice, technology,


By Craig Janssen

Future technologies do not look like the past. You may have heard the buzzword “the Internet of Things” or IoT. The idea is that physical objects are now connectable with the embedded technology needed to sense, communicate and take action across a network. Why is that important? It means that everything from AV to lighting to HVAC to communications is accessible, controllable and monitorable over a network, making it possible to automate actions with “if this, then that statements.” For example, if a room is empty, a thermostat can be set to drop the temperature and lights left on can send a text to an operator so that they can access a browser and turn them off.

… the benefits to clients are in the interconnection of the technologies….

Why audio, video and lighting (AVL) are now IT

In the past few years, IP-based technologies have made everything controllable over the network—which has blurred the lines between technologies. What were once distinctly separate disciplines can now be operated on a single converged network. The benefits to clients are cost savings in infrastructure and energy, along with better capacity to control systems. The operations side of churches is reflecting the shift in their hiring practices. While AVL was once the domain of a media minister or creative director, churches are now beginning to operationally run those systems under the head of IT. Why? Because it no longer makes sense to address them separately. Some larger churches are requiring a Chief of Technology (CTO) to manage their systems as a whole.

How convergence of control is impacting designers

AEC professionals know that the CSI Specifications are how buildings get built. They are laid out in the way that contractors have historically purchased labor and materials so there are silos for audio, video and lighting. The challenge is that the benefits to clients are in the interconnection of the technologies. (And the future always follows the clients’ best interests.) A new skillset is arising where traditional AVL consultants now have very strong network skillsets. Design-build firms are required to have software integrators on their teams. Someone has to shepherd the interconnectedness. (Note that all new major sports facilities are on a converged network with all technologies running on the same backbone.) RFPs with highly segmented technology disciplines are going away.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is fueling the shift

The BYOD trend means that it isn’t just the technology that is changing. The culture of the people who use the technology has changed. Assistive listening is now an app. Conference rooms are now run via iPad. Did you know that with the right infrastructure you can use an iPhone as a microphone on the main loudspeaker system? It isn’t just the Internet of the Church’s Things that is changing the design; it is the Internet of EVERYTHING—including the worshippers.

Architects, engineers and builders can show leadership in helping to lead these conversations with churches—and in partnering with skilled technology designers where needed. It is inevitable. The CSI spec will catch up.





Learn more about the companies in this story:

Construction Specifications Institute





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