Cisco targets in-building network convergence

Cisco ANZ’s IoT head sees potential in the ‘Digital Ceiling’

Cisco ANZ’s recently appointed IoT Solutions head wants to converge the different networks used to manage systems within commercial buildings into a single network, ideally implemented during construction.

Howard Fyffe, who was appointed director of IoT Solutions last year, told Computerworld Australia: “Typically in a building you will see multiple networks: HVAC [heating, ventilating and air conditioning], fire and security, PA [public address]. All that is converging to one network. Today each supplier puts in a network.

“That is not very efficient. We are looking to converge that into a single network and we are working with some of the big construction firms to put that in.”

“Think of a building going up,” Fyffe added. “We can put a network in there with our industrial products and you can build the building around it. That is an interesting space. We are in the early stages of that.”

Cisco formally launched its Digital Ceiling concept at Cisco Live in Berlin in February.

However the company was talking about the idea in a blog post a year ago, describing it as “a unified building services approach that provides central control for systems and adds an intelligent sensor platform to inform smarter decision making.”

It’s one of several verticals that Fyffe is targeting as he seeks to ramp up Cisco’s IoT business in ANZ.

“Ken Boal, our country VP, wanted someone on his leadership team to own the overall IoT strategy and help drive more traction and success in that space,” he said.

In this role, Fyffe overseas teams focussed on sports and entertainment, smart connected cities and Cisco’s ruggedised networking products for industrial applications. (He said that Australia was the largest market for these products outside North America).

The sports and entertainment team is looking to broaden the reach of Cisco’s StadiumVision products that manage video content distribution in sports stadiums.

“We’re looking to take that technology into any location where people congregate,” Fyffe said. “You could have interactive advertising that is curated, in airports and shopping malls.”

Cisco has a smart lighting and smart parking demonstration in Adelaide (one of Cisco’s Lighthouse Cities where it showcases its IoT technology) with some 75 light poles and 120 car parking spaces connected. “A local company there has used that to help develop a parking app,” Fyffe said.

In Perth Cisco is demonstrating the RuBAN fleet management technology from US company Davra Networks and Fyffe is gearing up to demo Cisco’s expertise and offerings for IoT in transport at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress, to be held in Melbourne in October, the first time it has been held in Australia since the 2001 event in Sydney.

“It will good if we can showcase what we are doing with the digital tram, or the digital bus. We have some teams working on that,” Fyffe said. “It will be a compelling event.”

Cisco is also eyeing the agricultural IoT market. It was a founder member of the LoRa Alliance that is promoting the LoRaWAN low power wide area network technology for IoT and Fyffe sees this being useful to IoT agricultural properties outside cellular networks, in combination with its fog computing platform that sits at the edge of the network performing local processing and filtering the amount of data that gets shipped to the cloud.

However, he does not necessarily see the farmers as the customers for this technology.

“We are also talking with our financial services customers about how they could better assess a farm: How is it being run, and how it could be improved if they were to lend money on it?” he said.

Stuart Corner travelled to Cisco Live as a guest of Cisco.

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