Cisco Canada Blog

Start Innovating : The Platform Is In Place.

October 7, 2011

We have all heard of “cloud services” and the tremendous business shifts this will cause in the marketplace. I am not quite sure if its impact is yet understood in the real estate and construction industry.

Naturally, the infrastructure for delivering and receiving cloud services needs to be in place. The service providers have worked hard to build out delivering capabilities, and the list of application providers that use the cloud to deliver their services is growing fast (e.g. hosted wireless and voice services, energy management, automated fault detection, demand response).

As with everything, the proposition is as strong as its weakest link. If somewhere the infrastructure is not in place nor optimized to maximize the delivery and consumption of cloud services, we will not be able to truly capitalize on their benefits.

Truth to be told: we all know where the infrastructure breaks down…it’s in our buildings. Silo-ed, disparate, legacy, and proprietary systems and technologies as well as separated communication networks prevent us from monetizing the opportunity (i.e. generating savings, revenue opportunities, and providing new ways of doing business).

However, the future is here. PWC Tower in Toronto may well be one of the first commercial multi-tenant buildings where the infrastructure is available and optimized for enabling and receiving cloud services. Hidden in shafts, closets, and conduits, this modern high-rise office tower at 18 York Street has a converged IP base building network that is the infrastructure for communications between  lighting, blinds, A/V, metering, security, HVAC, signage, and much more.

The open access building infrastructure also integrates with tenant networks to even further extend its value: IP phones in the tenant environments have become integral part of the architecture and they now provide environmental controls. No more silo’s. No more proprietary and disparate systems. No more inefficiencies due to the inability for systems to talk freely to one another.

At the heart of this building nervous system sits a centralized database and management system where ALL building data flows to and from in order to optimize and maximize performance and efficiencies.

This is where the cloud comes in. The technical architecture in the PWC Tower has made it (and everything in it) an active node in our connected world and provides for a “Platform for Innovation”. Cloud application providers can now easily access this centralized data and provide incremental services, analysis, and value to the building, its operator, and the user within it – safely and securely from anywhere in the world. One of the first cloud services available to PWC Tower is an energy visualization and automated fault detection
application by Scientific Conservation and SciEnergy.

But this is just the beginning. Let the innovation begin!

Follow the innovation at — now as part of the Smart + Connected Communities Institute !

Leave a comment


  1. Rick, in your article you state that the PWC Tower utilizes a centralized database. Can you provide some detail what data it captures, where it comes from, the systems integration with other applications databases and how the data was normalized, if at all?

    In my experience, this is another weak link that remains a challenge for our industry

    Andy Fuhrman, IFMA Fellow

    • Hi Andy

      We are using a Centralized Management System (CMS) developed by fifthlight. They capture the data, through a Tridium box and normalize it into a format which can be used for the various controls.

      So far Lutron lighting, blinds and AV will be going through the CMS and we are adding the Johnson Controls and Carma metering so the data can be made available through the CMS to SCIenergy.

      All very exciting.

      Ron Gordon. Cisco BDM.