The design and implementation of an intelligent backbone at the 2010 FIFA World Cup projects is not only helping to make these projects showpieces for the event, but will also ensure that maximum return on investment is achieved, says electrical engineering company Electrical Engineering Solutions (EES).
“An integrated management system is of significant benefit, as it allows better management of operations and effective deployment of staff, allowing for potential problems to be identified and dealt with before becoming serious issues. This reduces operating costs, contributing to a better bottom line,” says EES CEO Bradley Hemphill.
An intelligent backbone, which uses information technology (IT), relies on structured cabling systems to operate data and electronic services, such as telephony and lighting control. By integrating IT and building automation systems (BASes), infrastructure owners can plan for maximum efficiency in the operation and maintenance of structures, which now become cost-effectively managed.
EES is the specialist subconsultant supporting engineering firm WSP Consulting Engineers, and is part of the consulting team tasked with the design and implementation of Cape Town’s Green Point stadium’s and Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay stadium’s intelligent backbones. EES is also working on Cape Town International Airport’s intelligent backbone.
The company reports that intelligent infrastructure allows stadiums to easily become multipurpose venues, giving owners a choice of customers and a better chance of year-round use.
“Stadiums are so expensive to construct. There is a great deal of pressure on their owners, sporting bodies or municipalities to ensure the stadiums generate revenue and are profitable. It is this intelligent backbone that is being built in during construction that will enable the stadiums to generate revenue,” says Hemphill.
He adds that IT infrastructure should be included in the early planning phase of stadium design and development to ensure that the IT and BASes are designed to support current and future information needs. Further, there must be sufficient flexibility in the design of the intelligent backbone to allow for future inclusion of feature-rich services that were, perhaps, not initially envisaged or available at the time of planning. It must support current and future technology.
Hemphill emphasises that the implementation of an intelligent backbone must have a team approach, with experts cooperating and making use of their own particular strengths to deliver a complete solution. He adds that the tendency for major players to work in silos, rather than integrating systems, contributes to a disconnection between services, making it complicated for owners and visitors to the structures to take full advantage of the benefits of intelligent BASes, such as energy monitoring, security systems and integrated communications.
“The efficiency with which the stadiums in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth are being constructed bears testimony to the teamwork between the major players on site,” he says.
The Nelson Mandela Bay multipurpose stadium, which is now functionally completed, was the first intelligent stadium in South Africa built to meet FIFA’s exacting standards. As a multipurpose stadium, it needs to be quickly transformed from a sporting pitch to a rock concert stage or trade show arena, without reorganising the lighting, sound, ticketing, safety and management systems, and this, says Hemphill, can easily be done. The more intelligent the stadium is, the more cost effective it will be to host varied events.
“By building an intelligent backbone into the stadium complex at the outset at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, we realised a saving of about 12% on the capital cost of information and communication technology (ICT)installation. “Since all the management system applications that run on this backbone are inte- grated, we are able to provide management with the tools to more easily manage events and streamline stadium maintenance,” he says.
Cape Town International Airport’s intelligent backbone is also on schedule to be completed before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The main terminal, which involves integrating the domestic and international terminals to streamline operations, boost efficiency and enhance travellers’ airport experience, will be ready before December 5, in time to welcome visitors to the 2010 FIFA World Cup draw.
About 25 systems will provide services to about 120 stakeholders, such as airlines, retailers, network operators and government agencies. The company reports that many of the government agencies operate within stringent security systems and managing the access and activities of various contractors and suppliers on the premises requires specialised skills and controls.
“Airports are extremely complex facilities. Rebuilding one around an operating infrastructure without affecting operations is exceptionally challenging. Customers using the airport are not aware of the project management skills that go into reducing the disruption to services they need,” says Hemphill.
The serious challenge at the airport, explains Hemphill, is that the implementation of the ICT services is within in a live, continuously operating environment, and that it must take place without the disruption of ser- vices to stakeholders. Any interruption would further aggravate the inconvenience of the current renovations. The efficiency with which the airport’s rebuild is being imple- mented is testament to the teamwork of all the construction and engineering professional teams on site, he adds.
The various teams on site ensure that construction of the intelligent infrastructure is completed in line with international standards, making these benchmarks for intelligent building.