Customer application 14 December 2021
The “Internet of Things” Gains a Foothold in Buildings

With the opening of the “Cisco openBerlin Innovation Center,” the global leader in Internet and network solutions is writing a new chapter in building technology. In less than one year, a factory located on the EUREF Campus in Schöneberg, Berlin has been transformed into a “lifestyle workspace,” which provides Cisco with an unparalleled idea factory and innovation platform for the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Implementing the project required partners invested in innovation. These include HOSCH Gebäudeautomation in cooperation with WAGO, the IoT specialist relayr and many other start-up companies.

The captivating impression the Cisco Innovation Center building makes is due to its very special charm. Built in the early 20th century, the vintage industrial brick building has a warm and inviting appearance, looking more like headquarters of a start-up than of a global IT corporation. This impression is intentional and part of a well thought out strategy. “Our focus was not on the building technology as such; instead, we asked ourselves about the people who work here, what they need to feel comfortable and to give their creativity free rein,” explains Mitko Vasilev, co-founder and CTO of openBerlin.

IoT forms the center of openBerlin, which focuses on manufacturing, transportation and logistics. With this project, Cisco is creating an open platform for partners, start-ups and other enterprises, in order to accelerate development on a global level. For this reason, the idea factory was conceived as an open structure and equipped with approximately 100 workstations. Cisco wants to attract researchers, developers and representatives from leading institutions, customers and partner firms, like azeti, Bosch and Intel, to collaborate on innovative IoT solutions.

Cisco Innovation Center:

  • BACnet/IP Backbone
  • Building Management Systems Become Obsolete
  • A Data Pool of Inexhaustible Possibilities
  • The Newest, Most Up-to-Date Open System

BACnet/IP Backbone

Production in the former factory on the premises of Berlin Gasometer did not shut down till 2014, so the timeframe for the project was quite ambitious. In order to create a showpiece for the “Internet of Things,” Cisco also set the technological bar extremely high. This included equipping the space – around 1,000 m2 – with more than 10,000 sensors and high-tech communication units to capture the most detailed information about current conditions, as well as movements and locations of people within the building. The data collection ranges from information on lighting and climate conditions, to facial recognition, to smart watches.

When selecting technologies for the building, open source standards and communication ability were considered most important. The team only had three months to plan and install the building automation technology. For the IP-based aspects, Cisco turned to relayr, a Berlin-based IoT specialist company. The system integration specialist, HOSCH Gebäudeautomation from Teltow, and its technology partner, WAGO from Minden, provided the designs and implemented the building technology. WAGO’s CoDeSys-programmable BACnet/IP fieldbus controller (750-831) is the core of the system. As the link between the IP-based sensors and conventional building technology, it controls room automation and lighting technology.


“We needed partners who believed in our vision, were open to new concepts and had the flexibility to successfully accomplish this project under time pressure.”

Mitko Vasilev

Cofounder of openBerlin

Building Management Systems Become Obsolete

The fine-grained modular design of the BACnet Controller, part of the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750, offers an extremely high level of flexibility for combining the necessary I/O modules, and thus a high degree of scalability. In addition, technology islands using different protocols, like LON®, KNX, MP-Bus, EnOcean und SMI, can be easily united in one system. For example, openBerlin needed to tap the meters for electrical consumption and hot water using M-Bus and to control the lights via DALI. In addition, the BACnet Controller assumes control of all pumps and fans for room temperature regulation.

WAGO’s controller communicates with an IoT-based control system via BACnet. There is no higher-level building control system. The building’s multifunctional sensors, around 3,000 of which have since been installed, and each of which combines eight sensors in one device, transmit their data via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth®. The data is collected, filtered in a fog gateway (micro cloud) stationed in the building and then made available to a Web application in the cloud. Using any smartphone or tablet, users can individually control light scenarios, among other things, at their individual workstations, with continuous light intensity settings and color options.


A Data Pool of Inexhaustible Possibilities

In principle, however, the building automation is designed to automatically set lighting and indoor climate control to the optimal comfort conditions for employees, customers and partners – no outside intervention needed. This means that the light intensity and color change according to the season or time of day to provide ideal conditions for people using the room or workstation. For optimum indoor climate conditions, the sensors detect temperature, humidity and CO2 content, which the BACnet Controller then processes. For example, if several people congregate in one room, the system registers this and automatically lowers the room temperature.

“At the moment, we record 26.5 GB of data per day,” says Vasilev. “Of that, we probably use only about 5 %.” This should change in the future as the system is expanded with artificial intelligence in order to integrate proactive measures, and other programs, into the building’s automation. This project is impressive, not just due to the level of innovation, but also with regard to the investment costs and energy efficiency. In comparison with other Cisco properties, the initial investment saved nearly 30 %, while the energy savings amount to around 60 %, due in part to the need-based temperature and lighting control.

Vasilev’s summary is positive: “We are highly satisfied with the results of the project. The IoT-based building automation we developed with our partners is the most innovative, state-of-the-art open-source system. At the same time, it relies on components that are available in series production.” The concept additionally serves as a global model for other innovation centers and Cisco projects. The very high degree of system flexibility has allowed Cisco to secure its investment and create the ideal basis on which to realize many other ideas at the site.


By Stephan Lampe | 2016-08-29

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Customer Applications: Building Technology

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