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

Rick Huijbregts is Vice President of Industry Transformation where he is responsible for Cisco Canada’s IoE strategy and industry business development. The members of his team are industry subject matter experts and each engage in the transformation of their respective industries (healthcare, oil and gas, financial services, education, real estate, and industrial sector). Huijbregts is also General Manager for Cisco Canada’s Smart + Connected Communities practice, including Smart + Connected Real Estate. Huijbregts holds construction and architecture degrees from Tilburg Polytechnic University and Delft University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate from Harvard University. Huijbregts is currently a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education where he teaches classes on Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. He also serves on several boards of Canadian academic institutions and not-for-profits. Rick Huijbregts est vice-président de la transformation sectorielle dont les responsabilités comptent la stratégie de l’internet multidimensionnel et le développement commercial du secteur industriel de Cisco Canada. Les membres de son équipe sont tous des experts dans différents domaines et œuvrent à la transformation de leurs secteurs d’activité respectifs (santé, énergie, services financiers, enseignement, immobilier et industrie). Huijbregts est également directeur général du segment des communautés intelligentes et connectées, dont le volet immotique des immeubles intelligents et connectés de Cisco Canada. M. Huijbregts est titulaire de diplômes en construction et architecture de l’université Tilburg Polytechnic et de l’université Delft aux Pays-Bas ainsi que d’un doctorat de l’université Harvard. Il est actuellement professeur de Harvard à la faculté d’études supérieures pour les cadres en aménagement urbain où il donne des cours sur la gestion intelligente des immeubles et des villes. Il siège également à plusieurs conseils d’administration d’universités et d’organismes à but non lucratif.
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