Published: Monday, November 25, 2013

Tech Marvel

Networking the largest shopping mall in South Asia

A colossal project undertaken and accomplished

Technical crews running test on the network backbone

Technical crews running test on the network backbone

InfoLink engineers checking the kiosk booths

InfoLink engineers checking the kiosk booths

Jamuna Future Park- by far the largest shopping complex in this subcontinent is to house more than thousand shops, premium outlets, showrooms and food courts. This enormous shopping district required connectivity for internal operations and functionality. Moreover the incoming crowd also required access to internet. But no other engineering firm had ever undertaken such a meticulous challenge.  It was ‘InfoLink’, a network engineering firm, who was awarded the contract to connect all parts of this gigantic shopping mall in a network to ensure that the entire network can be controlled and maintained from a single point location.
Since this was a mammoth project and no other project of this scale was ever implemented in this country hence InfoLink had a quite steep learning curve. InfoLink was to do three things:  1. Establish and install all a unified network. 2. Build and connect kiosk for visitors 3. Maintain and monitor the high volume network traffic and networking hardware.
Establishing a unified network was a multilevel work hence the crews where tasked in groups to finish the work within the deadline. There were many challenges to establish the network and install all associated hardware. Firstly the network needed to be centralized and controlled from one single point. To do so, all network hardware was specially configured. Secondly enormous space was required to be covered with fiber optic cables. And all cables required to be laid in the ceilings. Since the floor to ceiling height was 4.42 meter, specialized equipments were required to lay cables at such a height. Thirdly, the Wi-Fi devices, through which end users could access the internet, were extremely sensitive to dust. As the network development work done in the construction phase of the shopping mall, so the devices where frequently exposed to dust resulting malfunction. Lastly, the 410,808 square feet per floor made the footwork lengthy and time consuming. To address these challenges some changes were made in the plan. The device hanging problem was solved by rearranging the total device plan. The problem of backbone route was solved by creating a tunnel from the center to Jamuna Future Park pocket gate. A special cover was used for safety of Wi-Fi devices. High ladder was used for recovering dead cables and a special high elevation cart for installing the devices. Even after that some laid cables were not working properly. In that case, those cables had to be changed.
Kiosk/information booth was another part of the project. An electronic kiosk (or computer kiosk or interactive kiosk) houses a computer terminal that often employs custom kiosk software designed to function while preventing users from accessing system functions. Computerized kiosks may store data locally and offer the visitors data from the stored memory whereas the interactive kiosk fetched updated data from the main network storage in real time. Some kiosks provide free, informational public service, while other displayed advertisements. In total 25 kiosks are already deployed throughout the shopping complex.  But in long term a total of 900 units will be deployed. Each would carry advertisement that was related to Jamuna Future Park. To deploy such a large amount of foreign built kiosk was lengthy and expensive. So InfoLink came up with with a cheaper alternative. They suggested the Jamuna authority to go for locally assembled Kiosk. The kiosk outer-shell and CPU was designed and assembled locally. Only the touch-screen monitors were imported.  The software for the system was created by InfoLink software development team. Thus it marked the very first commercial deployment of Bangladeshi assembled kiosk.
Maintaining and monitoring the extremely high bandwidth-ed network was another part of the project. For this part of the project, monitoring cell/NOC (Network operations center) was put up and extra IP (Internet Protocol) was needed for covering all the merchant clients of the premises. For client billing InfoLink software team developed billing software which made total billing process accurate and secured.  Besides dedicated internet and shared intranet, the networking project also involved data connectivity services for CCTV connection, Branch connectivity, ATM connection, Wi-Fi service for floating customer and connectivity for mobile users using hotspot voucher card.
The future work of this project involves Wi-Fi network for the rest of the floors, deployment of 800+ new kiosks, enable hotspot voucher card with e-payment options etc. No wonder, projects of these sorts are the embodiment of engineering at its best.

Some facts & figures

  •  23,950 feet (approx.) 12 core Fiber optics used
  •  13,123 feet (approx.)  4 Core Fiber Optics used
  •  5,987 feet (approx.)  Cat 6 Shield cable used
  •  Total: 44,000 feet fiber optic cables used

 

  •  Total Core Capacity – 192 core and Scalable

 

  •  Backbone Capacity – 24 Core and Scalable

 

  •  Wi-Fi Coverage area– 350,000 Sq ft (Approx) ( Only 5th floor)

 

  •  At a time user – 300 Wi-Fi User successfully tested (supports up to 1000 users).
  •  Coverage area by Cable – 2,870,000 Sq ft (approx.)
  •  Total number of Deployed Kiosk – 25
  •  Total Bandwidth Capacity inside Jamuna Future Park – 400 Mbps and Scalable