Smart office sensors are transforming facilities management. This digital technology contributes to sustainability initiatives and resource optimization. This is particularly appealing right now – Smart building sensors can also support health and safety.
Companies that want to get back to the office need to reimagine their office workspace design to prioritize wellbeing. Businesses must take into consideration abundant advice from public health organizations about returning to work safely. Yet they also value the emotional and mental health of their employees, and must make changes accordingly. The consensus, though, is that the work environment won’t look the same.
Global real estate services firm, Cushman & Wakefield, describes efforts to implement a coronavirus-safe working environment as “the 6 Feet Office concept.” It involves adapting the workplace to promote optimal functioning and a virus-safe environment. Specific strategies include:
- Maintaining social distancing between individual workspaces
- Monitoring occupancy of common areas such as break or conference rooms, elevator lobbies, and restrooms
- Enhancing cleaning and disinfecting protocols
Fortunately, Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices were already transforming facilities management. The year 2020 simply amplified the need for revolutionary technology such as smart office sensors. In this article, we talk to Disruptive Technologies about how their smart office sensors support rapid evolutions in the workspace.
What Are Smart Office Sensors?
Smart sensor technology can be installed throughout the business environment to provide the data needed to make informed decisions about how office space is utilized, when, and by who.
Leveraging IoT connectivity, these intelligent sensors are small electronic (typically battery-powered) devices that send data regularly (as frequent as every 30 seconds) to the cloud.
Disruptive Technologies (DT) sensors are just 19 x 19 x 2.5 mm, which is the size of a Scrabble tile, or stamp. This compact technology sticks to pipes, walls, ceilings, and other surfaces with an industrial-grade adhesive. With a battery life of 15 years, they can be easily installed throughout a building without requiring ongoing maintenance. You can peel, stick and forget it.
DT offers several types of smart sensors:
- Temperature sensors — measuring the temperature in any space, on any surface and on assets such as pumps, pipes, or server racks
- Proximity sensors — detecting if an object is present or removed, such as counting the times a door is opened or closed to determine utilization
- Touch sensors — touching the sensor triggers an action or relays a notification to the cloud server (like sending a notification when the printer or coffee machine needs repair)
- Humidity sensors — measuring ambient temperature and humidity in working areas such as offices, meeting rooms, storage, kitchens, server rooms
- Water sensors — for flood and leakage detection and monitoring of flushing
With the data available from these types of sensors, facility managers can be more energy-efficient, manage proactive maintenance, optimize cleaning schedules, analyze usage trends to allocate assets, extend the lifetime of their equipment, and so much more.
There’s a real opportunity for smart sensors in the current and post-COVID work environment. Next, we’ll discuss the advantages of this technology in office settings and business facilities.
How Will Sensors Inform the Future of Work?
IoT technology to support smarter building management was in the works before 2020. Yet the global pandemic helped businesses see the immediate value; these devices went from “nice to have” to “need to have”
Let’s look at distancing employees in the office. A wireless temperature sensor can be attached to a desk to determine human presence. The data could be used for occupancy monitoring to optimize the use and hygiene of that space. In addition to real-time information, the data can also help determine minimum, average, and peak usage of workspaces to better plan gradual returns to the office.
The sensors also benefit industries with cold storage needs. Successful cold storage of food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals (vaccines, medications) hinges on identifying any significant temperature changes.
Further, temperature sensors also offer energy efficiency and sustainability gains for different industries. Awareness of ambient temperature can significantly reduce air conditioning costs in hotels, offices and residential buildings. In London, England, a DT client created an IoT-powered workspace and reduced energy costs by 31% per month, and minimized its carbon footprint by 30% in just five months.
Added Benefits of Intelligent Sensors
Visualizing the data on a digital dashboard depicting asset use, or a heat map of where people are congregating, can help with other facets of building management. IoT data insights can help optimize cleaning schedules and support preventative maintenance efforts. The sensors can help ensure high standards for cleaning through usage tracking of washrooms, desks and meeting rooms.
For example, temperature sensors on pipes can track water movement to ensure services are operating at acceptable levels that don’t encourage pathogen growth. By reducing the need for manual labor associated with pipe inspection, the sensors help building owners save on Legionella compliance costs.
Smart building technology can also improve user experience without sacrificing user privacy. With tiny, non-invasive sensors, the need for cameras is reduced. Further, the sensor is not tracking staff badges or IDs. After all, you might not need to know who is eating all of the snack cakes in the break room. But you want to know that they are going fast and need to be replenished soon.
With access to a connected data dashboard, building administrators can gain a full overview of buildings and assets through remote monitoring.
Smart office sensors make it possible to gather as much data as possible about a building, its assets, and its users, whie being anonymous where and when needed. Fortunately, the evolution of IoT tech is making these types of sensors and other devices more accessible to entrepreneurs and small business startups.
As Disruptive Technologies partners with new companies, the reach of its IoT sensors and solutions is growing to include all manner of industries. Its products are purchased by customers who want to install their own high-tech solutions and partners integrating the sensors with their smart workspace platforms or business intelligence solutions. Ultimately, businesses that care about sustainability, energy efficiency, optimizing assets, and user health and safety can benefit from this IoT innovation.
With the advent of 5G, the pace of digital transformation will continue to pick up. After all, Disruptive Technologies is only one of the many tech companies rethinking how we use technology and the future of work.
The next article in this series will explore the software solutions used to harness the raw sensor data into actionable insights in the algorithmic building.