Cisco’s new NYC office offers blueprint for smart workplaces

After two years of pandemic, office managers are being pushed to create hybrid workspaces at the same time they balance the need to cut energy costs and meet net zero carbon emissions goals.

While the concept of a smart office building is not new, it is gaining renewed traction in some organizations as they adjust to hybrid designs, especially as the number of workers can vary from day to day, creating variations in energy and security demands.

Some workplaces are implementing networks to tie together sensors and wireless access points, among other nodes. Sensors to monitor the number of office occupants can be tied to indoor temperature and lighting so that a smart office management system can adjust blinds and lighting where needed while conserving energy.

Cisco recently began marketing the smart office concept with its new DNA Smart Workspaces concept.

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Cisco is also targeting CIOs with Cisco Meraki specialists who can discuss implementing Wi-Fi 6E, 5G cellular gateways, predictive SD-WAN analysts, security and network segmentation.

One of the most visual of Cisco’s smart office marketing approaches comes in its new New York City office at One Penn Plaza, a 54,000-square-foot space with a variety of flexible workspaces and high tech meeting rooms. Cisco created a video to show off its New York space that is equipped with Power over Ethernet lighting and HVAC, which Cisco claimed is easier and faster to install and more energy efficient than traditional electrical cabling.

The space is equipped with wireless access points and IoT sensors, including 92 video endpoints.  Multi-media with Webex gear in conference rooms allows in-office and remote workers to collaborate. Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 family of switches and 90-watt universal Power over Ethernet provide the backbone for the company’s smart building approach, according to its web site.

“Cisco challenged us to make technology the foundation for the design of the [New York City] space. It needed to be factored into everything we did,” said Juliette Poussot, design director for Gensler. “Unlike most projects, we actually designed with the technology first and built the architecture around it.”

Cisco argues that “tech is the new fourth utility” and organizations taking advantage of smart building tech “will have a clear competitive advantage.”  All told, Cisco’s approach can provide a significant reduction in energy costs, the company says, and help it reach its internal company goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.