Companies are beginning to realize that in this digital age their physical spaces generate an enormous amount of data. They also understand that harnessing this data can not only bring their workspaces to life but also enable them to leverage technology to make administration simpler, reduce operating costs, become more environment friendly, better support employees, and more.

This was also the starting point for one of our clients who decided to tap into data from a new one-million sq. ft. workspace it built.

Our client’s decision to invest in a smart building led them to partner with Cisco. The building’s digital core was built using Wi-Fi 6 technology and a mesh of Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 series switches, Cisco DNA Center, Cisco Meraki, Cisco SDA, and more; the company’s vision for the future, however, is what brought it all together and motivated them to work with our teams to create a digital fabric that helped them capture and make sense of data from across the building, in real-time.

What can a smart building do?

While the potential benefits of building such an intelligent workspace are unlimited, let’s talk about a few things that the client has developed and deployed already.

Keeping in view that safety and security always come first, our client has built an all-in-one app that manages all the needs of anyone who needs access to the building. Thanks to the app, on the user’s mobile device and a strong network of wireless cameras, sensors, and contactless access control devices, the company can register employees, contractors, and guests as they come to the building and grant them rights inside the premises based on policies set up by the IT team.

Employees, for example, have access to everything and can book conference rooms and so on. Contractors on the other hand, have limited access to the premises, and guests only have access to a specific section of the building. Regular staff and customers can use beacons placed inside the building to navigate within the workspaces and find their way to conference rooms and desks.

The app also provides users with access to not just facilities within the building but also the elevator, parking spaces, and more. In fact, the building’s cafeteria is fully integrated into the app as well, allowing users to not only see the menu but also place orders and make payment.

In the current environment that we are operating in, a special round-the-clock command center monitors everything remotely to ensures compliance with Covid-19 related health and safety regulations and manage the facility accordingly.

If you’re familiar with smart buildings, you know that most facilities like this use internet of things-powered (IoT) sensors to switch-on and switch-off lights in conference rooms and washrooms, manage elevators, and even the air conditioning. This and more are linked to a sophisticated energy management system which analyzes usage, identifies patterns, and reduces costs. It has further allowed them to leverage predictive analytics to transform themselves to become a green building.

Our studies show that smart buildings with Wi-Fi 6 can reduce power consumption by almost a third – that’s a massive win for any organization’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics.

While these are some of the solutions that have been deployed, the teams at both organizations are working on creating more efficiencies and leveraging the data for more intelligent solutions. It’s a process that isn’t going to end anytime soon.

Go a step beyond visibility, use automations

Smart buildings are state of the art facilities. Think of them as a natural progression to the hybrid workspaces we’re heading to rather than futuristic, sci-fi versions of yesterday’s offices. As discussed so far, smart buildings make life and work simple. Fortunately, their ability to simplify isn’t limited to the users or occupants of the building.

What the client has achieved with this structure is an example that smart buildings can make administration and management of facilities simple and provide a few strong layers of security when it comes to safeguarding the company’s staff, its network, and its premises.

Using Cisco’s solutions, the building was able to deploy policies that enabled them to automatically manage how and what users accessed, whether it was digitally on their network or physically in their premises. This will become even more critical in the coming months, as we start to return to the office. Smart buildings will continue to play a significant role in keeping staff safe and helping companies comply with prevailing health and safety regulations including social distancing requirements.

Given the organization’s size, nature of business, and the stature of some of its clients, data privacy and security are key concerns – after building its digital-first smart building, the client realized that this is the way to go as the level of assurance provided by the automated systems were far superior to traditional ones bound by human errors.

One million sq. ft. is just the start. We believe our client will broaden their horizons with this intelligent workspace and inspire themselves, their partners, and their industry to make more such investments in the next few months.