Cisco Canada Blog

Convergence At Its Best

September 20, 2011

Today , the first employees of PWC will take possession of the first two floors of their new showcase property in downtown Toronto: PWC Tower @ 18 York. When they will walk into their offices, they will not find a light switch on the wall. Instead, they will now be able to turn on, dim and turn off their lights using the Cisco IP phone in the offices, meeting rooms, and quiet rooms. For any technology person this may not seem a big deal, yet it certainly will be a first for the occupants of 18 York.

This capability may appear deceivingly simple. But it is not quite as straight forward as a phone that communicates directly with a lighting system (which has been done before). What makes this really so unique (above and beyond the CAPEX savings of a couple of hundred dollars per light switch) is the underlying architecture that enables it all to happen. 18 York is one of the first buildings with an end-to-end Building Information Network (converged fiber IP network infrastructure) that communicates with the network edge such as IP Phones, sensors, access points, but also with the lighting system, power meters, blinds, and soon also the building’s HVAC.

A gateway technology is used to capture and normalize the data that sits in traditionally silo-ed disparate building systems. A Centralized Management System (CMS) acts as the central nervous systems of the building. Features, functionalities, and policies are set in this CMS with the purpose to optimize the building performance, reduce the building energy footprint, and provide services that will enhance the occupants experience (e.g the ability to personalize lighting levels while maximizing energy savings).

The smart and connected real estate approach turned this state-of-the-art building into an information-centric operation that will provide so many more opportunities for facility and experience enhancements. For starters, the CMS will expose the building information to a cloud-based automated fault detection application that will predict the building’s performance and trigger condition-based and preventive maintenance activities. Also, soon we will be displaying the PWC’s energy consumption on the many digital signs in their modern office. With the IP Network as the building’s “Platform for Innovation”, this will just be the beginning.

The convergence didn’t stop with the technology alone. The true convergence was how the industry came together to make this happen. As the concept broke through technology silo’s, it also ruffled some of the established relationships and contracting methods. Building 21st Century buildings with 21st Century capabilities requires 21st Century thinking in organization, stakeholders, and teamwork. On this project, we saw GWLRA (landlord) and PWC (tenant) embrace and own the vision and everyone else rallied behind it. A big thanks to EllisDon, Cisco, Lutron, Flexity, FifthLight, Canem, and everyone else involved (

Convergence at its best ! Let’s do it again (and again and again).

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  1. This is an outstanding invention.