Streamline infrastructure upgrades with these key activities
April 25, 2023
Technology in hospitals is key to improving healthcare delivery, giving doctors and medical professionals new ways to diagnose and treat patients. Medical records and communications have also been streamlined and improved as a result of new technologies.
Changing equipment and systems place greater demands on facilities and infrastructure. Renovations, new systems, and upgrades are needed to meet new requirements.
We’ve seen this challenge firsthand.
AE Works' Registered Communications Distribution Designers, Engineers, Architects and Designers recently worked on several site-wide healthcare telecommunications upgrades. One project spanned an entire campus, over 1.5 million square feet and 25 buildings.
Planning, coordination, and layering in a future-focused approach have been key to streamlining these large-scale telecom infrastructure upgrades to minimize impact to ongoing operations.
Here are a few key considerations from our recent campus-wide telecom upgrades that helped make building projects a better value.
Starting Off Strong
Building a solid foundation of existing conditions knowledge and organizing information is crucial to a successful large-scale infrastructure project. Important considerations include:
Phased approach to site visits: Scheduling site visits in phases can be helpful to determine whether existing facilities (telecom rooms, data centers, etc.) meet requirements. Additional site visits can be useful for a deeper exploration on how infrastructure needs can be met in new or expanded locations.
Understanding how to accommodate new technology infrastructure: Expansion or relocation of existing telecommunication rooms is commonly required to accommodate new technology infrastructure. These situations require careful coordination since this often means that other occupied spaces are impacted in the process. Minimizing the impact on existing spaces and staff working in the facility is a critical part of identifying workable design solutions to support these types of projects.
Developing a Future-Focused Design Solution
With the constant evolution of technology and shifting market conditions impacting construction costs, developing future-focused solutions that mitigate risks and meet long-term demands is essential. The following activities can help drive an effective telecom infrastructure solution:
Maintaining a risk register: We find that maintaining a risk register throughout a project helps identify project challenges early. A tool like this details risk items and descriptions, risk assessment information (probability, impact(s) on cost and schedule, and severity) and tactics for mitigating/eliminating risks.
- Integrating security into the solution: Telecommunications infrastructure must also be securely protected. Our process is to verify that data cabinets and fiber infrastructure requiring physical security are equipped with locks and tamper switches, that data centers can be equipped with an access control system to grant/deny access, and that video surveillance and intrusion detection systems monitor all telecommunications rooms and data closets. We have also selected and specified lockable manhole covers to ensure the security of underground fiber pathways.
- Planning for the future: Building future flexibility / expandability into your infrastructure project budget enables long-term value. Make time to explore solutions that can save you both time and money in the future. For example, on a campus-wide telecom upgrade project, new concrete-encased underground conduits were required for fiber optic connections between buildings. One to two additional conduits could meet the demand of these connections. However, considering future flexibility, it would benefit the facility in the long run to have a few additional spare conduits. This is a great example of a very minimal increase in cost with a substantial increase in benefit for long-term saving and flexibility.
Decoupling site work from facility work: Often site work can be scheduled before, after, or concurrently to the building systems construction scope, which will allow for some flexibility to minimize site disruptions.
Coordinating Construction Phasing to Minimize Disruption
Careful coordination and communication can minimize impacts during construction. A few considerations include:
Communication and planning to minimize outages: For campus-wide infrastructure projects that affect a large area and buildings, phasing considerations are essential to minimize disruptions. It is our practice to communicate throughout a project so that all key stakeholders are fully aware of the impacts of construction so they can plan and anticipate these impacts while we work to minimize disruptions.
A detailed phasing plan: In order to ensure safety, it is critical to develop a phasing, dust control, and infection control risk assessment plan that indicates when certain areas will be closed during construction phases. It is also important to ensure that paths of egress remain open during these phased closures. In a wide-reaching project with multiple buildings, we have found it beneficial to develop phasing plans per floor for each building indicating ICRA barrier locations and phasing of construction.
Installation of new systems before demolition to minimize downtime: When possible, new systems can be installed prior to the demolition of existing systems in order to minimize downtime. As a result, parallel systems will be in place so that the transition from existing to new systems requires little downtime.