Cisco Systems is continuing to focus on what is broadly called the smart cities sector to bring technology to buildings and physical infrastructure.

In the latest move it announced a Canadian partnership with Schneider Electric, which makes a wide range of building and electrical grid management solutions.

The partnership “will create new opportunities in the development of smart buildings and smart communities across Canada, and have a positive impact on the environment by improving energy efficiency,” Rick Huijbregts, Cisco Canada’s vice-president of its Smart Connected Communities division.

The two companies have worked together before on a number of projects.

“Schneider Electric and Cisco believe conservation efforts will build a route to a sustainable future,” Huijbregts said. “Schneider Electric has developed solutions to address this growing demand, while we’ve been working hard at Cisco to develop sustainable technologies to show people that technology can work for the environment, and not against it.”

“It’s also an important step to further the possibilities made available by the Internet of Everything (IoE). The IoE plays a crucial role in sustainable technology and we want to ensure Canadian businesses are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities it offers. Over the next few years, more and more items will be connected to the Internet that can have a tremendous impact on the environment: anything from refrigerators to cars to building heating systems.”

The partnership will mean the two companies can pitch to potential customers jointly rather than individually,” Andy Schonberger, business development manager for Cisco Canada’s smart and connected communities consulting division, said in an interview.

-“You have to have a good core network to manage all these new (energy) devices and endpoints, so we definitely see a lot of ways to work together.”

The announcement was made a Toronto’s Earth Rangers Centre, a conservation agency for children, where both companies have equipment: the building’s data centre has just been upgraded with Cisco servers and network equipment, while for the past five years it has been using Schneider energy metering and access control systems.

The facility is starting to integrate these systems, said Schonberger, who until recently was director of the centre. All Schneider controllers are linked to the network so, for example, staff can now control office lights through the Cisco IP deskphones. Ultimately the integration would allow finer control over energy consumption through Cisco technology that watches an IP device plugged into the network.

The partnership is one of a number that Cisco is making to supply smart building solutions to building owners and municipalities.

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