Tag Archives: Internet

The Future of our Smart Communities (1) : Youth

One year ago, Cisco Canada and FCM signed a collaboration agreement focusing on the betterment of Canadian communities through the application of innovation and advanced technologies. Over the past year, we’ve had numerous exciting engagements with the FCM and its members; highlighted by the creation of a Municipal Video and Collaboration Network that currently is in pilot-mode with the Executive Directors for the FCM. Continue reading

Change is inevitable: don’t fight IT – embrace IT.

changeIn the last week few weeks I have had the pleasure to speak on the topic of organizational change in front of human resource professionals. I made an effort to link the technology (r)evolution we find ourselves in the middle off; the changes in the way we expect to work and interact with our customers and colleagues; and the corresponding work spaces in which we seek to be productive, happy, and health.
Technology is changing at an ever increasing pace. Continue reading

Talking with Polytechnics Canada

This is my script for tonight’s dinner key-note at the Polytechnics Canada annual meeting. Surely, it’ll sound very different tonight.
Thanks Anne and Nobina for inviting me tonight to speak with you briefly at today’s Polytechics Canada Annual meeting dinner.
As you may have detected, I came with a slight accent. That’s right: I am one of those 20% Canadians that wasn’t born in Canada. My place of birth is in the Netherlands. It is here where I graduated almost 20 years ago from the Polytechnic University in Tilburg. Now, don’t get confused by the naming…though my old school’s name translates into “University”, it was a College as we know them here in Canada. Continue reading

Infrastructure Modernization–every Bridge needs a Switch

Public infrastructure is a key driver of a Nation’s success, particularly for a prosperous economy. Infrastructure plays an essential role in supporting global economic competitiveness (trade corridors), safety and security (borders), public health (water, housing), environmental protection (clean air, clean energy and public transit).

“Modern and efficient public infrastructure is key to supporting the Nation’s most important economic and environmental goals and to building strong and prosperous communities”, says Infrastructure Canada.

More than $ 48 B was allocated between Building Canada Plan and Canada’s Economic Action Plan to provide some much needed long-term investment to upgrade and revitalize Canada’s infrastructure (2007 – 2014). With the end of this funding coming near, a new Long-Term Infrastructure Plan is being prepared that would continue the investment in Canada’s infrastructure. Continue reading

Innovating Transportation, Mobility with ICT Networks

Last Tuesday (Sept. 18th), I was invited to speak with Laura Di Battista about the importance of the Information Highway as an essential infrastructure for every community and every country. Canada has a long way to go, and is not necessarily recognizing broadly the importance of ICT networks as critical utilities for the success of our Nation.

Listen to Canada’s CBC Radio 1, “Here and Now” — interview with Rick Huijbregts on “Building the Information Highway”

The interview was an introduction to Cisco’s participation in EVERGREEN BRICKWORK’s MOVE 2012 exhibition. For several months – until October – EBW will showcase innovations in matters of infrastructure, mobility, and transportation. For several Tuesdays in a row – until October 11th – EBW is hosting INNOVATION TALKS where different voices from the community, government, and business are asked to openly share their thoughts on the future of mobility in increasingly denser communities.

Continue reading

The Future of Canada’s Infrastructure

It is an important week for “infrastructure” in Canada. Starting today (09-10-2012), Regina will be hosting the second-ever National Infrastructure Summit. Hunderds of delegates from the public and private sector will come together to not only discuss the state of Canada’s infrastructure, but also to explore opportunities and solutions in finance, policy, innovation, and citizen engagement. The summit is followed by FCM’s gathering of the Municipal Infrastructure Forum. The Forum is an informal body bringing infrastructure experts together with municipal and business leaders to exchange ideas, build consensus, and provide input to the federal government.

Infrastructure is the backbone for Canada’s economic success and quality of life. The roads and bridges we use to move ourselves, our goods, and our services; the electrical grid we need to power our economy and lives; the water infrastructure that is required to deliver healthy and quality water; all are critical to the fabric of a Nation—especially in a country that is falling behind in productivity and innovation. Berry Vrbanovic [Past President at the Federation for Canadian Municipalities] says: “The last few years have seen important investments in our infrastructure that have helped slow the rate of decline and given us hope for our future. However, Canada is at a tipping point; either we continue moving forward with the job of re-building or we fall further behind as crumbling roads, traffic gridlock and sky-high housing prices cost our economy jobs and growth.” Continue reading

Clicks and Mortar: Innovating Infrastructure

Billions (in Canada) and Trillions (around the world) of dollars are being spent each year on the development and renewal of our infrastructure. Roads, bridges, homes, and [commercial, industrial, and institutional] buildings make the physical fabric of our communities. A small, yet growing portion, of this global spending goes to the systems that make this infrastructure work; such as security, mechanical, electrical, and transportation systems.

These systems have always been part of the DNA of the underlying infrastructure for our communities (nothing new there). However, the difference is that they are becoming smarter and more capable to have a profound impact on the performance of the infrastructure. Where historically these systems were subservient to the bricks, beams, and concrete they were housed in; it now seems they are being elevated in importance. The intelligent systems have now the ability to make our infrastructure come to life – and provide greater value to those that depend on it.

The great enabler of this shift is the world of information and communications technology (ICT), and more specifically the Internet and IP networks. Networks become the new addition to the DNA of our infrastructure. We have seen already numerous examples where connected and smarter infrastructure has the ability to positively impact economic, social, and environmental sustainability. My blogs have covered several of these examples, and please keep reading them as there are more to come.

The trend of smarter and more connected infrastructure is unstoppable as every sensor, device, system (and user) will become a node on the Internet and its worldwide networks. We [as in leaders in the construction, design, development, ICT industries, and many other stakeholders] have now the stewardship to channel this transformation into a direction that is repeatable and sustainable. Together we have the ability to (re)build the fabric of our communities through the intelligent use of technology and innovation. As we see this technology and innovation converge with bricks and mortar, we will end up with infrastructure that meets our, and our children’s, rapidly growing expectations in a resource constraint world.

At Cisco Plus in Canada on Wednesday May 16th, a selected group of leaders in the infrastructure industry (architects, engineers, developers, builders) will gather to discuss the implications of “clicks and mortar”, and the opportunities it will provide to all that are interesting pursuing them. The future is here, let’s now optimize and monetize it, together.

When you are visiting Cisco Plus, please attend also the Business Session “Managing Unprecedented Change with Business Transformation” by Sandy Hogan (Cisco Vice President of Americas Business Transformation) on Wednesday May 16th at 11am EST.

Power to the Network

Last month Cisco launched its UPoE (Universal Power over Ethernet), delivering up to 60W to networked end-devices. Now, I am not very technical myself to understand how this all works, but I certainly can see the business implications (for every IT professional and business, but also the developers of buildings and communities) as the journey of PoE continues to develop.

Power over Ethernet (PoE)  is a technique that delivers electrical power over Local Area Network cabling to networked devices. PoE itself isn’t new (but not old either). In 2000 we were able to deliver 7W over the network, called “Inline Power”. The term PoE was coined in 2003 when the IEEE approved a standard (IEEE 802.3af) for PoE up to 15.4W. Only 4 years ago PoE was able to deliver 30W to networked devices, enough to power IP Phones, wireless access points, but also video surveillance cameras and access controllers. Last year, Delta Controls was the first building automation company to launch its PoE IP HVAC controller to the market which was premiered at Carleton University in Ottawa. This year, Universal Power over Ethernet (UPoE) leapfrogged the industry to provide 60W per switch port to enable new deployment options in next-generation infrastructure.

So, how is all this relevant for those outside of IT (especially for those that build buildings and communities)? UPoE will cut capital and operational cost; simplify facilities maintenance and management; reduce environmental footprint; and provide for future-ready physical environments.

(1) As “the Internet of Things” becomes part of the DNA of an infrastructure project (as the 4th Utility), we’ll see more and more devices connect natively to the Network (from IP Phones to LED lighting, HVAC controllers, TelePresence, LCD displays, etc.). Once connected to the Network, many of these devices can, should, and will be able to be powered through this same network. The elimination (or reduction) of electrical cabling and the labor related to it will have a significant positive impact on the capital cost of a networked building. How many power plugs do you need at a desk if your phone, TelePresence unit, and your laptop are going to be powered through the same network that operates them? Consider $300 per door (or more) savings for eliminating the electrical provisioning for each access controller above your ceiling panels.

(2) Operational maintenance and management (including Moves, Adds, and Changes or MACs) of networked devices that are powered over Ethernet become much more efficient and cost effective. Especially if you extend the PoE infrastructure with available kinetic technologies (i.e. a kinetic light switch does not need ANY wiring as its kinetic energy communicates over a PoE wireless network) the possibilities of quick customization and change of our physical environments becomes more effortless and instant. One would not need an electrician (as we know them) anymore to add or rewire electrical infrastructure to accommodate new locations for networked devices. A video surveillance camera, LCD display, or LED light fixture can be placed (and powered) in places where no electrical wiring is provided.

(3) It is a well established fact that much of our energy loss is due to the many up and down conversions that are needed to move electrons from the power plant to the low-voltage end devices in your building (consider how hot the power plug for your laptop can get). If you add the possibility of adding solar energy or other alternative energy sources, you now can leverage the network to generate in DC and deliver in DC, thus eliminating energy loss due to conversions. Also, the Network is optimized to monitor, manage and control the power delivery and consumption to all its networked devices (see: EnergyWise). UPoE makes energy optimization and reduction part of the buildings DNA.

(4) Lastly (yet, there are many more benefits that I’ll discuss in future blogs), UPoE adds to the future-readiness of a networked building. We don’t know what systems and devices will be required for the performance and operation of our physical environments. What we do know is that the Network is the new lifeline of such environments; and end devices will consume less and less energy (maybe 60W or less—wouldn’t that be interesting)?

This means that the networks we are building today are able to power, enhance, and enable the features and functionalities of tomorrow.

Maybe it’s time to re-write MasterFormat Division 26? (and consequently also 23, 25, 27, 28, 33).

Pursuit of Happiness in Times of Change

Last week I spoke to the Alumni of George Brown College’s “Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies”. On my way there I realized that it was more than 17 years ago that I myself graduated from a like-minded institution in the Netherlands. 17 years ago ! And oh my; has the world changed since then. When I left college, it was the year that they handed out email addresses to the students (I missed out). It was all pretty basic stuff, and the Internet hadn’t really developed yet into something useful. Nobody in my year had a cell-phone, and laptops were a novelty. My PC had a 3.5” floppy disk (a what?). My first laptop came two years later and was called a “mobile desktop”. There was no Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Receiving my emails on a phone was unthinkable. “Cloud” meant only one thing. The cool thing (for living in a dorm back then) was to have our own fax machine.

Now, 17 years later…where to start. I don’t listen to my CD’s anymore; music now comes from my phone. We watch 50” LCD TV and 3D is on sale. The fax is gone, and my car parks itself.

The internet has exploded. Since my graduation, network speeds have increased 18 million times. Internet traffic to one of the hottest video sites (either Netflix or YouTube) in one year today completely dwarfs all internet traffic combined that was traveling the networks when I graduated. In today’s heavily enabled and booming information age, humans have created more data in 2009 than all previous years combined. Video has taken over as the dominant medium on the internet: Netflix consumes nearly half of US internet traffic today, and high-definition video conferencing is available in the home. Every 60 seconds, there is 48 hours worth of video loaded onto YouTube; and 2 billion videos are watched each day on this popular video site. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have taken the world by storm. Not only their valuation is astonishing ($100B, really?); their member base is equally impressive (Facebook leading the charge with more than ½ billion active users). Tablet devices didn’t even exist 2 years ago (let alone 17 years ago); and already there are more tablets sold than PCs this year. And on and on and on. And when I write all this; the facts are already obsolete. It is expected that in 2015 there will be nearly one mobile-connected device for every person on earth; and less than 5 years after that we anticipate 1,000,000,000,000 (yes; Trillion) connection into the Internet.

Where does it end? It doesn’t !

This begs the question: are we building the right infrastructure, buildings, communities, countries or even environments (in the most abstract sense of the word) for the generations that grow up in this new world? Are we making enough progress in the evolution of our physical infrastructure also, to accommodate the rapidly changing expectations in this rapidly changing world? My opinion: NO. We simply can’t keep on building buildings like our fathers and their fathers did. Times have changed—and it’s time for the real estate and development community to get on board. And there is nothing wrong with that…many other industries before us have embraced the technologies to create new opportunities, new businesses, and new wealth. Let’s use the innovation and transformation around us to rethink the environments that support and enable us; and to rethink how we jointly get to create those environments. In times of constant and accelerated change, we either lead; follow; or get out of the way. This train ain’t stopping; and we’re driving it (and your children to). All aboard.