Jonathan McFarlane, PlaceOS CEO

Australian start-up PlaceOS has partnered with Cisco to build smart spaces and offices globally and will be delivering its first project in this venture later this month with the new global HQ for ASHRAE based in Atlanta, Georgia.

ASHRAE is a global society advancing human wellbeing through sustainable technology for the built environment. It will leverage Cisco’s network capabilities and PlaceOS’s technology platform, which integrates with the HQ’s systems and devices to provide a number of workplace features aiming to respond and adapt to end-user needs.

Some of the features provided includes room scheduling, desk availability, people finding, visitor management, audio-visual control, car space management and building analytics.

“The way we interact with spaces is changing, as are the spaces themselves – well-designed and implemented technology allows greater sustainability and more efficient use of resources at a lower cost,” Jonathan McFarlane, PlaceOS CEO, told The Fifth Estate.

“Smart workspaces improve space management, resource use and people management, and improving people’s day-to-day experience in a smart workspace improves the well-being and performance of workers.

“Besides better user experiences, smart buildings also create deeper insights into how people truly use spaces and how that utilisation can be optimised.”

As an integration platform, PlaceOS will be providing the technology foundation that enables Cisco to weave together its various solutions, apps, data sets and tools, while leveraging the power of context-aware systems to provide a connected and seamless end-user experience.

“We provided the platform that integrates and automates most of the workplace features, including systems that detect occupancy of rooms and adjusts room settings such as lighting, ventilation and air conditioning,” Mr McFarlane said.

“Recently, we’ve been able to apply our technology to help keep workers safe and compliant with COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

“Our platform also provides a smoother experience for users of the building including visitors, as it recognises people and can automate their access.”

Another critical aspect of how PlaceOS sees the role of platforms for a smart building is that the construction process is very long-term – often taking years.

“This means the technology that is available on day one may be completely different from what is around when the project is completed,” Mr McFarlane continued.

“For that reason, it’s important to have a solution that can adapt to new technology in the way a platform does.

“That’s really going to be the opportunity in the long-run for businesses like ours; to be involved in these projects from the beginning in order to implement technology that works across all lifecycle stages of the construction process and can adapt to new technologies as they become available.”

According to Mr McFarlane, moving forward this partnership and the company’s ventures all aim to “lay the foundations for the real estate of the future”.

“When we started PlaceOS, we were initially focused on its applications in universities, but we quickly realised that our platform could be leveraged in many other areas, such as finance, health and manufacturing,” Mr McFarlane said.

“Our short-term focus is to reach new customers and verticals, as well as smaller customers. We currently work with a lot of larger enterprises because that’s where we can have the most impact, but we see a lot of opportunities for smaller organisations.

“To this end, our long-term focus is on smart cities, which are becoming more of a reality every day and Australia is uniquely positioned to be a leader for a number of reasons.

“We’re also already focused on smart precincts in Australia, so the next step is how do we automate across the buildings through to public systems and public transport. The technology is ready for that and that’s where our focus is going to be in the long-term.”