PETALING JAYA: Buildings in our high-tech century require the expertise of not only the regular mechanical and engineering (MNE) consultant, but also that of an IT network consultant.
With the Internet increasingly becoming the fourth utility, building developers need to think about how to properly dovetail it with the other utilities, i.e. electricity, water and, in the case of retail space developers, air-conditioning.
Colin Ng, director of broadband network solutions provider Macrolynx, said one of the oversights developers make when installing the fourth utility is to leave the job to MNE consultants because not all know where to begin or how it should be done.
"This can sometimes lead to disastrous results, like tenants not being able to get the websurfing speeds they want or IT vendors finding it difficult to bring their services in," he told Bytz.
Macrolynx played a key role in the design and planning of IT networks for The Gardens and GTower properties in the state. The Gardens comprises a shopping centre, six-star hotel, residential suites and office spaces. GTower has offices, hotel and a club.
Ng said an IT network consultant's role is to be the intermediary between developers and MNE consultants. The consultant even advises MNE consultants on which cables to use and where they should be placed.
Such collaborations, he said, will help developers build a plug-and-play Internet-ready building, where tenants can come in and connect their equipment to the outlets and start running a business.
This may seem trivial, he said, but some developers do not know IT and may choose the wrong cables. "This would then work against their good intentions of providing a plug-and-play service to their tenants," Ng said.
There is a growing demand in this niche market because more and more developers are also aiming for MSC Malaysia Cybercentre status. MSC Cybercentres attract MSC Malaysia status companies that enjoy incentives such as tax breaks and unrestricted employment of local and foreign knowledge workers.
MSC Malaysia status companies are required to run their business from a cybercentre or cybercity, in order to be eligible for these incentives.
Furthermore, Ng said, more Malaysians are going digital, with everyone accessing or trying to get access to the Internet nowadays.
"Three times more people filed their income tax returns via the Web last year, compared to those that did the previous year. By this measure alone, we know that there is a great demand to be digitally connected," he said.
He said developers also cannot ignore the demand for a building these days to be ready to accept IT infrastructure, whether it is a simple fibreoptic cable for broadband connectivity or a full-blown datacentre.
Some condominiums already have cables for broadband access built into the structures, like wires for electricity, and this is something many expect, he said. "Because of this market demand, developers have no choice but to comply."
Ng believes more developers will be constructing Internet-ready buildings. "Within the business heart of Kuala Lumpur alone, there is 14 million sq ft of space ready to be developed, so this is a great opportunity for Macrolynx," he said. - JO TIMBUONG