As more people are getting vaccinated, we’re putting plans in place to safely reintroduce employees back to the office. Now and into the future, we are taking thorough measures to bring people back in safe, socially distant, and compliant ways.

In this blog, I will share brief observations as updates to my previous blogs on how we are using Cisco DNA Spaces to return to work safely.

Monitor building occupancy

Cisco Singapore is among the first sites for which we began the return to office phase. During the first days back at work, we used Cisco DNA Spaces to monitor occupancy and understand if social distancing and safety guidelines are being followed.

The Cisco DNA Spaces Right Now app allows us to visualize the number of employees in buildings across campuses. We can also set our own capacity thresholds and receive immediate alerts when the threshold is met or exceeded. Even better, we can decide whether we want to trigger these alerts via Webex messaging, SMS, Email, or an API trigger.

Recently, our partners in the Workplace Resources team leveraged the Firehose API from Cisco DNA Spaces to incorporate the wireless density data into their density dashboard.  The API trigger is used to display real time density status on a visual, intuitive dashboard. For Cisco Singapore below, we can easily see that one of the buildings is being occupied below the maximum capacity rule, meaning the building is safe to enter. This dashboard will update in real-time as people enter or exit, so that we can proactively keep our spaces safe. We can look at average occupancy on a daily or hourly basis and can count current occupants in buildings and floors. These analytics help us decide whether we should proceed with return to office or work from home.

sample office grpahic occupancy report

As we move into the later stages of return to office, we plan to make this dashboard available for all employees and presented on building digital signage.  That way, employees can look at the occupancy of the buildings of interest and make their own choices.

Communicate safety information

During the workday, emergencies, COVID-19 diagnoses, overcrowding, and other events can happen at unpredictable timings. When such events occur, workplace services teams should be equipped with ways of communicating the latest, real-time information to employees and visitors.

At Cisco Melbourne and many other sites, we’re using digital signage in lobbies to clearly and visually display the current floor occupancy against the maximum floor capacity. The signage displays as green when the floor is occupied at a safe capacity and will turn red if the number of occupants reaches the capacity limit. That information comes from the Cisco access points and the Meraki video cameras, which are fed into Cisco DNA Spaces. This helps with decision making where, for example, if a space is too crowded an employee could go to a different floor.

Lessons Learned

  • Cisco DNA Spaces is a great source of wireless data to manage employee density as we return to office, but it’s not the only source. Cameras, Webex endpoints and badging systems also provide valuable data. Leveraging the Firehose API to bring all of the data together was easy and impactful.
  • Garbage in = Garbage out. Cisco DNA Spaces relies on accurate floor plans and recording of wireless access point placement. Make sure that this data, including location, height and azimuth, is accurate or your wireless density data won’t be.

Watch the video below to see how Cisco is returning to office safely by leveraging Cisco DNA Spaces, Meraki Cameras and Webex endpoints:

Related Links

Cisco Melbourne – A Safe Return to the Office (Video)

Cisco Trusted Workplace solutions

Cisco DNA Spaces


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Jon Heaton

Manager, IT

Cisco IT - Customer Zero