On the connected building front, there has been considerable progress in Canada. According to Rick Huijbregts, VP business development and lead on connected real estate for Cisco Canada, the number of buildings with fibre networks “is not an insignificant percentage. A majority of buildings have infrastructure being installed – and there are companies out there that do this for a living. But to layer on the new services and applications to take this to what we would call real Smart + Connected real estate, it’s still at the early stages. As compared to where we were four years ago in terms of awareness, proof points [that have shown CAPEX savings of 9-16% in addition to OPEX energy and maintenance savings] and relationships in the real estate world, though, the difference is like night and day. We have partnerships with DTZ Barnicke
… and we have about eight million square feet in eight buildings that our teams are now working on. From a new construction standpoint, three out of every four new buildings will be like the PwC Tower or better.”
Over the last couple of years, Cisco has also worked to broaden the concept of Smart + Connected Communities beyond built infrastructure to encompass activities in government, home, transport, healthcare and education – the George Brown campus provides one example of how many of these areas can intersect. Cisco’s main focus now, according to Huijbregts, is on looking at the connection points between these “siloed services” and on bundling them onto a “centralized, connectivity backbone” to see what “value-added services may be co-created” with service owners and third-party partners. If this vision seems challenged by jurisdictional or regulatory hurdles, Cisco’s aim is not only to encourage nationwide extension of broadband connectivity (a fundamental requirement for all Cisco innovation and a healthy source of business – half of domestic business is with the service provider group), but also to create the infrastructure underpinnings. This has been accomplished through the “Cisco Unified Services Delivery Platform” which enables the creation, delivery, security and provides access to next generation services designed for the management of urban systems. ‘Community’ in this case, has moved beyond the building to the multi-system municipal environment.