Connected Real Estate Summit closes on educational note

connected real estate summit

Fifth Gen Media and Connected Real Estate Magazine concluded its Connected Real Estate Summit (CRES) at the ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale, FL on February 13th. Day two of the summit featured panels covering industry topics like Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), Public Safety, 5G and cyber security.

Rudin Management COO and CTO John Gilbert, Digital Colony Managing Director and COO Jeff Ginsberg and WeWork Vice President, Darlene Pope gave keynote presentations throughout the day.

“For our first event of this scope and size, I was extremely pleased with the outcome. Of course we want to build on our success here and continue to bring more CRE panelists, attendees, and keynotes” said Rich Beliner, CEO of Fifth Gen Media, parent company of The Connected Real Estate Summit.

Insight into CBRS

Industry consultant Tim Moynihan moderated the day’s initial panel, “CBRS—Dawn of New Network Ownership.” Panelists included WIN VP, Market Development Todd Christner, ANS Advanced Network Services President and GM Paul Fettuccia, Google Kevin Hanson, Airwavz President Mark Horinko and Geoverse VP of Partners Jim Jacobellis.

Moynihan opened the discussion by asking where the industry currently was on the CBRS “hype scale.”

“The hype comes in a couple different flavors,” Fettuccia said. “The industry is very ‘geeked up’ about what is going on with CBRS. We can see how many problems (CBRS) can actually solve for the industry and consumers. On the flip side if you look at the general population, they have no clue what it is. I think a good chunk of our responsibility is to get more people engaged so they can see this as a platform to actually solve a lot of their problems.”

Horinko also said he believes the CBRS hype is real and the shared spectrum aspect has the potential to be transformational in the CRE industry.

“The hype starts to come in when you begin to peel the onion back on the some of the use cases,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kevin Hanson from Google noted how real CBRS technology is. Devices like the iPhone 11 and the Pixel 4 are currently CBRS-equipped. “In order for this to work, we need device support and support from major operators,” he said. “Most phones that are going to be sold in the next year have CBRS. That’s great from a handset penetration perspective.”

Public safety is firmly in the “must have” category for CRE

Safe-Fi Technologies Founder and CEO Laurie Caruso moderated the “What is the enterprise view of public safety systems?” panel that comprised TEC Systems Director of RF Engineering Tony Balletta, City of Ft. Lauderdale’s Telecom Coordinator Bobby Brown and Telecom Systems Manager Gary Gray and Comba Telecom Sales Engineer Eduardo Zaldivar.

Balletta started the discussion with a compelling story of why he works in the public safety sector. As a volunteer firefighter, he saw firsthand how important it is for first responders to have reliable communication channels when his partner fell, lost his mask and no one could hear Balletta over the radio when he requested help.

“Fortunately, there were other firemen around, and they were able to pull him out,” Balletta said. “Why am I passionate? Because I’ve experienced it, and communications is so important.”

Gray explained the requirements CRE owners must meet to pass their public safety network inspection, including any BDA system put in for public safety has to be separate from the building’s cellular distributed antenna system (DAS) network.

“We do not allow those to be combined,” Gray said. “The requirements for design and operation and maintenance are totally different between those two networks. Even FirstNet, when they claim they’re for first responders; we can’t have a FirstNet system signal going through the same BDA network that our public safety signals go through. The interference between the two frequency bands used is incredible.”

Brown noted that a lot of different fields are coming together to install public safety systems, but don’t have a full understanding what’s required. For example, a company that specializes in radio frequency (RF) does not know construction or the levels of fire ratings that are required. Or a low voltage company will know how to pull cable, but not as much about RF. Meanwhile, companies familiar with alarms often lack radio knowledge.

“It’s difficult finding a company that has a good understanding all of the components of construction, RF and cabling,” Brown said. “That’s what we usually see as a main issue—there are a lot of inexperienced companies out there and for the vetting process for real estate people, they should be well versed in all of the aspects from soup to nuts to make sure systems are installed correctly and perform correctly.”

“It’s incumbent upon the building owner as well as the installer to make sure that any system being installed meets with the approval of the authorities having jurisdiction,” Zaldivar added. “You legally cannot retransmit that signal without their approval. You’re going to have to make sure it’s done correctly, and that’s why we have standards that integrators and system installers can refer to in order to make certain that each system is installed correctly.”

The latest on 5G, cyber security best practices

Berliner moderated the “5G realities—where are we carrier by carrier” panel with Neutral Path VP of Technology Chuks Agba, SOLiD Director of Marketing Doug Bierbower, Telnet Executive VP of Engineering and Business Development Mike Doranian, Nextivity VP of Marketing Joe Schmelzer and ExteNet GM Enterprise Solutions Group Greg Spraetz.

One of the topics covered was where do we currently stand with 5G. Bierbower noted there’s not much impact for the phone user—the 5G service will not differ much from what we’re used to with 4G at this point.

“What most of us need right now is a little more 4G—a little bit better 4G,” he said. “But the endgame of 5G will be something totally different. We don’t even have the applications right now that are driving that need. The 5G that’s being deployed today is almost all ‘non-standalone.’ That means the device has to connect to the 4G network in order to coordinate with the core to even use 5G.”

Agba made the point that the 5G device and application market has not caught up with the 5G marketing messaging that the service providers have put out. “We just don’t have the devices to support it on wide scale,” he said. “I think we have a Samsung tablet and a couple of Samsung devices, but outside of that we’re still relying on 4G LTE devices.”

Protecting Your Assets

JB&B Cybersecurity Technology Business Development Lead Min Kyriannis moderated the day’s final panel and her firm JB&B was the panel sponsor of “Bringing sanity to your cybersecurity systems.” Panelists included 5Q Cyber CEO Don Goldstein, Johnson Controls Global Product Security Program Leader John Deskurakis, Intelligent Buildings Co-Founder Tom Shircliff and Clarus Founder and CEO Christine Baird.

When Kyriannis posed the question, “What (cybersecurity) issues keep you up at night?” the panel’s responses varied from protecting customers from cyber attacks, companies not having their cyber plans in place to the industry not sharing information about comprises.

The panel also shared insights on how building owners can protect themselves from cyber attacks. Kyriannis noted the first step is having a cybersecurity program in place. Deskurakis recommended understanding that any connected device is vulnerable.

“A lot of our customers traditionally haven’t thought of these things because they think, ‘That’s a cooler or HVAC system or that’s a video camera and it’s connected to something guarded inside of a closet—no big deal,’” he said. “In reality they all have potential vulnerabilities and could be exploited if you don’t know the security posture of all of those things. Of course you’re going to naturally look at your networks and all the things people worry about, but you have to think about your entire environment and building as one ecosystem and everything in it can affect other things.”

“Everything starts with the policy,” Goldstein said. “Lock down the simple things first—the low hanging fruit, make sure the policies are in place and the are understood across the organization. Hold everyone accountable, measure it and report on it all the way to the top of the organization so they know exactly what’s going on inside.”

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