Secure connectivity is an indispensable part of working with the Internet of Things, an infrastructure of smart technology growing in hotel, hospitality, commercial real estate sectors, and throughout city-wide applications.
Christophe Ameline, Head of the Vertical Markets Strategy & Offer at ALE, explored this topic in Gigabit as it pertains to better hotel service offered by the IoT.
Hospitality is an industry of connection. In 2014, 40% of business travelers had three or more connected devices, because smart and wearable technology keep people functional while mobile at the same time. Guests are using their own tech for information and entertainment rather than the offerings and services at the hotel.
Secure Access Comes first and Last
Hoteliers know that growing their business means investing in technology. The 2017 Lodging Technology Study found that:
- 57% of hotels intend to increase investment while…
- 42% plan to maintain their technology spend.
The top priority? Digital engagement in a secure environment. Mobility and connectivity are central to this digital transformation strategy. Wireless connectivity is now a non-negotiable amenity. Guests are used to it at home, and all but demand it on the road. Only room cost ranks as a higher priority for guests. However, ease of access must be balanced with security.
Pervasive high-quality Wi-Fi from Lobby to Lounger
There’s no shortage of headaches for hotels trying to offer strong, pervasive WiFi. Guests are numerous, as are devices. Data demands are huge, and many hotels were built prior to WiFi concerns at all, making retrofits challenging in some cases.
Thick walls and metal structures (common in historic hotels) often hamper cable connection and slow down signals. The 140-year-old Waldhaus Flims Alpine Grand Hotel & Spa solved this problem with a single LAN cable. Special access points may serve as mini-switches in some cases, which guarantee access to internet, telephone and video, but with a smaller footprint. WiFi meshing can deliver Ethernet in certain hotel areas too.
It’s more than a question of adding more access points. Simple connectivity must “follow” guests around without gaps in coverage.
Staff Needs Mobility Too
Staff are finding greater need for mobility too. For example, in Paris at The Buddha Bar Hotel, staff are expected to be contactable anywhere on site. Throw in apps that let employees answer questions on the spot and check on maintenance and room issues, and it’s not hard to see a greater demand for high-speed, secure connectivity.
Threats to Secure Networks
Hackers and data thieves are targeting hotels more and more. The demand for hotels to create an easy experience for guests can create vulnerabilities in networks, as can the constant influx of mobile, wearable and easily transported devices.
Containers and PANs Offer a Solution
Containerization of technology is one of the driving priorities behind secure network creation in hotels. This is a way of making virtual isolated networks on a single, converged network.
The plan is to group connected devices that have overlaping functions to respective authorized users in a unique, virtual IoT ‘container’. For instance, the ‘guest access container’, would serve as its own network where guest users are unable to interact with or see devices in the container of say, the finance or security departments.
PAN, or (Personal Area Networks) allows guests to connect with their own smart TV, but not, for example, the one next door. A PAN is similar to having a dedicated WiFi platform for every room. It creates an experience similar to what guests would experience at their homes.