Transforming the nation with innovation, one building at a time

Cisco continues to make great progress in Smart + Connected Real Estate and its overarching Smart + Connected Communities initiatives. The announcement of the Richards Zeta acquisition a few years back was perceived as our bold move into the building convergence marketplace. Equally so, the termination of our Mediator product a few years later was construed as our departure from this market. Nothing is farther from the truth. We have continued to invest in Smart + Connected Real Estate initiatives and grow our partnerships with JCI, Delta Controls, Aecom, Honeywell, IBM and many other construction, engineering and building automation companies and the real estate industry.

Cisco Canada has been at the leading edge of making Smart + Connected Communities a reality. After a three-plus year journey, the first truly-converged intelligent buildings are finally coming online (George Brown College Health Sciences Campus and PwC Tower). And right now, more than 16 large Smart + Connected Real Estate projects are underway (totaling well over 8 million square feet).

Smart + Connected Buildings make the foundation of Smart + Connected Communities. Cisco Canada is collaborating with some of Canada’s most innovative communities to explore and deliver solutions that generate economic, environmental and social sustainability: Vancouver (British Columbia), St. Albert – Rampart Avenir Communities (Alberta), Waterfront Toronto (Ontario), Fredericton (New Brunswick) and Stratford (Ontario), just to name a few.

What do building transformation and community transformation have in common? It’s the networked infrastructure that is becoming part of the DNA of our built environment and everything we do in it (work, live, learn, and play). Slowly, we’ve all come to realize that the Internet and IP Networks are the inevitable foundation of everything we need, do or create. Building Information Networks, IP backbones, Community Networks, Fiber-to-the-Home are not new concepts anymore, and it is now commonly believed to be short-sighted if they’re not considered essential for development or revitalization projects.

With this collective appreciation in mind, it is important that we actively rally all stakeholders in industries around the shared concepts and together work towards optimized architectures, process efficiencies, and value-added applications that can be delivered and consumed over the networked infrastructure. Smart + Connected Communities is not about products…it is about new processes, new partnerships, new regulations, new ways of doing business. To facilitate the dialogue, Cisco opened its first Smart + Connected Communities Innovation Centre in the headquarters of Cisco Canada in Toronto.

A “place” – settled in a physical environment where we can gather,  collaborate and experiment, yet with virtual access and connections – has been created for stakeholders in the real estate and construction industry to come together to innovate and co-create solutions that will validate and accelerate real estate transformation. It is here where we can freely push the envelope of convergence and integration, and provide a laboratory for building data analytics and optimization. Uniting ICT with mechanical and electrical systems (and everything else that is digital and can be connected) will provide a new playing ground for legacy and emerging industry stakeholders.

Some of the first technology participants in the Innovation Centre include Delta Controls (ESC Automation) with their IP and Power-over-Ethernet (POE) HVAC controllers; FifthLight (a Coopers company) with their IP lighting controls; NuLED with their IP and POE LED light fixtures; Tyco’s Simplex Grinnell with their fire alarm system; Control4 with our joint integrated Cisco Smart + Connected Home solutions; Joulex for its networked energy management; Jibestream for data visualization and Panduit with their Unified Physical Infrastructure, just to name a few. They all have provided their innovative technologies that now are integrated over one IP network—together creating exciting value-added opportunities as the systems interoperate and interact with one another and with the participants of the Innovation Centre. Numerous other firms are expected to implement and integrate their solutions in the next few months.

Add to this, innovative influencers and integrators from real estate, construction and engineering firms, customers and consumers of the solutions, ICT system integrators, software and solution providers—and we have the makings of true industry transformation, from the inside-out and outside-in.

As our physical “place” is limited, and for the mere fact that innovation happens everywhere, we have positioned our Centre in an Innovation fabric that will allow us to collaborate with bright minds and universities and industry partners across the country (and with other Cisco Innovation Centers around the world). Stay tuned as Cisco announces future “satellite” innovation hubs with Universities and research centers that will provide specific solution expertise and access to laboratories and resources around the country.

Our first connection, however, was announced on Tuesday June 26th as Cisco celebrated its partnership with Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. The exciting site of Evergreen Brick Works will be a living lab and Experience Centre where the validated solutions will be deployed and showcased. Together with Evergreen Brick Works and forthcoming partnerships with industry associations, Cisco will continue to do its part to promote, evangelize and demonstrate the true and tested value of Smart + Connected Communities.

Innovation happens here.

NOTE, for those interested:

The Cisco Smart + Connected Communities Innovation Centre will have all necessary Cisco capabilities available to the Centre’s collaborators, and currently already includes:

  • POE Switching – POE Plus (30 Watts) and Universal POE (up to 60 Watts)
  • Unified Computing System – our UCS Server
  • Communication Manager including a variety of IP End Points
  • Wireless LAN
  • Digital Signage
  • Cisco Smart + Connected Home (Control4)
  • TelePresence Conferencing

This blog originally appeared in the July issue of

About Rick Huijbregts

As Vice President, Smart Connected Communities, Rick Huijbregts leads the development of Cisco Canada’s Smart Connected Communities practice including Smart Connected Real Estate. Huijbregts is responsible for accelerating the growth of this industry in Canada. Huijbregts holds a bachelor’s degree in construction management from the Tilburg Polytechnical University in the Netherlands, a master’s degree in real estate development and project management from Delft University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate from Harvard University with a specialization in real estate technology and investment management. En tant que vice-président, Communautés Smart+Connected, Rick Huijbregts est chargé de l’expansion de Communautés Smart+Connected de Cisco Canada, y compris de Smart+Connected Real Estate. À ce titre, il lui incombe de stimuler la croissance de cette industrie au Canada. M. Huijbregts détient un baccalauréat en gestion de construction de l´université polytechnique de Tilburg, aux Pays-Bas, une maîtrise en aménagement immobilier et en gestion de projet de l´université de Delft, aux Pays-Bas, ainsi qu´un doctorat de l´université Harvard avec spécialisation en technologie immobilière et en gestion de placements.
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