Richard Kirkham, Director at smart home integrators, Avicci, talks about the importance of cable infrastructure in the shome technology environment.

We preach heavily about the practice of correctly installed infrastructure and blend that with our attempt to enlighten the installers about legacy cabling and future readiness. With the help of the #liveinstall presence, almost every day there is a tweet or blog about cabling, Cat6…Cat6A…foiled and shielded cables.

In our view, this is great. It’s just the exposure the industry needs to help promote the correct procedures required to give the customer what they expect when it comes to connected devices using a network as the main body of infrastructure.

However, there are equally a growing number of ‘have a go’ opportunists out there. Recently, I attended a site where the client had entrusted the builder/developer with the purse to completely renovate their property, including full electrical wiring, kitchen fit out, etc.

His knowledge of our industry was based around ‘YouTube’ and ‘google’.

So, we attended site for the first time to survey and discuss the project and noted that the infrastructure needed to give the client even the most basic of connectivity was already underway. Alarm bells!! Who has ever undertaken an installation without a conversation to identify even the basics required? Was his intention to gain free on site advice with no intention of ever employing our services?

To provide the customer with a working solution should be the first priority. “We’re throwing in a Cat6 to every TV” was his reply to the question about infrastructure design and topology.

The work was beginning to take place right under our noses and there was little we could do to help the client. We know what was happening in front of our very eyes was wrong, inadequate and potentially dangerous. In this type of case, you have to decide whether to educate on tap and hope you are employed after a quotation or walk away shaking your head. I’m sure many installers face this same dilemma.

Whilst there’s still clearly an education job to be done on installation practices we also need to delve deeper, shift our focus and look at why such a situation is happening widely around the UK.

What’s needed is for there to be education in place to provide these developers with enough knowledge to offer the basic format that we can adapt to suit individual needs, a minimum requirement in buildings or even, dare I say, a standard which we can adopt and develop.

CEDIA’s ‘Smart Home Recommended Wiring Guidelines’ publication provides a solid platform for those who have little knowledge, to go away and think about what is required for their system. After all, it is a system. Everything you buy whether it’s a retail purchase or through a specialised distributor, it all becomes a system.

The problem we face now as a company looking to provide solutions and integration is that we need our potential clients already charged with information and education. Then, we can provide a solution without the jaw dropping moment at the end when the price is discussed. They need to understand what is involved, where their hard earned money is being spent and value it accordingly.  If they are aware of our services, like the 5th trade on site, awareness begins to grow and, then, so should standards.

We understand that our industry’s involvement with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the CEDIA Continuing Professional Development (CPD) presentation goes some way toward this education but more is needed, particularly in the sub £1M properties.

We need education from the ground up, so that developers are looking to procure the services of #smart home specialists and that our services aren’t requested at the very end, post decoration.

It is incredibly hard to convince the homeowner to spend cash on parts of the installation they can’t see, such as, cabling and networks. But, it’s even harder to tell them that their trusted developer and his work just hasn’t been done well enough to provide you with the tools to get that smile at the end of the project. We know that there’s an appetite for this knowledge. Let’s do this as an industry, from the ground up and make us and our clients much happier as a result.