Opening Workplaces: IoT for Building Re-commissioning

by | 21 Dec 2021

We were honoured to be invited to the Smart Buildings Show at the Excel In London last October. Our Digital Workplace Consultant Simon Hilton teamed up with Technical Director David Meacock of Cistermiser Keraflo to discuss the role of IoT monitoring in building recommissioning. More specifically how IoT monitoring can help us get into our places of work. IoT and data platforms help us to monitor our environment and give us the ability to make data driven changes to have a positive impact on the workplace experience. Read on to discover the highlights from their talk.

Wi-fi enabled devices can talk to cloud-based platforms like the GemEx Engine® to surface actionable data. And we know that companies across the globe have been taking on IoT solutions more and more. Statista estimates that by 2025, the total installed base of IoT connected devices worldwide is projected to amount to 30.9 billion units.

Use cases for IoT help in building re-openings 

Legionella Risk Management

Buildings being dormant for long periods of time have resulted in regular flushing of their water systems not occurring as usual. Without this regular flushing, the risk of Legionella increases as people are left to do manual checks and risk assessments. These can end up being done in a rush to reopen as quickly as possible. Removing the potential for human error and automating processes is a much more efficient way of meeting compliance regulations and ensuring safety.

Intelligent Temperature Monitoring Units (TMUs) deliver automatic wireless monitoring, providing real-time temperature readings via a cloud-based platform like the GemEx Engine®, to track and monitor hot and cold-water temperatures in pipework systems which are critical to risk assessments.  Recorded data includes maximum, minimum and average temperatures. The sensor also records any flow events, such as outlets being utilised. After this the data readings are analysed by the device’s inbuilt software and sent up back to the cloud, and then on to the user’s preferred interface which might be a phone, tablet, or PC. The data delivered by installed TMUs can help to show where sections of a building’s water system have remained safe and are operating to specified parameters and flag areas that may require specific attention.  

Indoor Air Quality

The importance of air quality has never been more relevant. We all want to make sure our workspaces can limit the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible, Asthma sufferers aren’t triggered, and Sick Building Syndrome can be circumvented as much as possible.

Real time data on your air quality, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and indoor environments allows you to determine where the issues are. This means facilities teams can implement changes and improve the quality of your workplace.

There are multiple different sensors to measure environment quality. Each of them can measure something different, such as:

  • CO2
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Noise

Use a booking system like GemEx, to look at your reservations data, see when buildings will be busy and knowing more CO2 levels will arise with more people, adjust your ventilation system to meet the need.   

With our platform the optimal levels are already configured. We work on a traffic light system with bad, good, and perfect summary statuses. Alerts are configured to warn relevant team members when levels are approaching an undesired amount. 

This data is important but how you showcase it to your building occupants is equally important. That’s why the GemEx platform provides TV and Kiosk views for common areas. This gives occupants an instant view on their surroundings. Your teams have custom alerts, your occupants have a clear view on their environment so everyone can feel safe returning to their workspaces. 

Footfall and Building Occupancy

How many people are in your building? You want to know to keep within regulation guidelines for Fire Safety, you also want to let your occupants know how busy their workplace is. Whether you’re looking at general occupancy or visitor counting these sensors and data platforms can provide real-time information on your building usage.

In the GemEx platform you can do quite a lot. We use this data to populate analytical charts, heatmaps and reports for FM teams to easily update their stakeholders. You can also alert onsite building managers via email or SMS if the number of occupants is close to reaching an unacceptable level. You may want alerts if you’re only opening certain floors or buildings. 

Use visitor number data for public area kiosks as well as our employee app Luna to keep building occupants informed, giving them the power to choose their workspace. 

So, what does all this mean for re-opening workspaces? You can reassure those who will be returning that entering these buildings will be safe. That overcrowding won’t be an issue and if a problem does occur on-site teams will have the tools to respond quickly.  

Smart Cleaning

Part of returning to a building is making sure soft services like cleaning are efficient and “seen”. A Robert Half survey asked over 1,000 professionals what they expect on the return to the office and the data is clear. The top two priorities are more flexible working and better cleaning procedures. 

  • More opportunities to work from home (79%) 
  • Better cleaning procedures (79%) 
  • Fewer in-person meetings (70%) 
  • Staggered work schedules (55%) 
  • Mandatory face masks (52%) 
  • An adapted office layout (46%) 

What can be meant by ‘better’ can be interpreted in a few ways. It could be more frequent cleaning or more targeted efficient cleaning. Management can prove to their stakeholders that steps are in progress and service improvements are being made. 

You’ve probably guessed it; IoT can help with that too.

A solution, such as our Smart Cleaning perspective, uses motion detection and NFC tech. These sensors speak to our platform which then creates alerts and tasks. These are passed to cleaning teams within their app and an attendance and task audit history within the platform. 

This means that managers have a digital record of cleaning activity, and have the data to confirm improvements in service.  

Enhancing Employee Apps

We’ve touched on how IoT can feed into an app for your building occupants. It really does give you an opportunity to give colleagues and visitors an exceptional experience. Facilities teams are providing a service and experience for building occupants. In terms of re-opening buildings these two bits of tech in conjunction can be a powerful solution.   

Your app can keep employees informed whilst IoT monitoring data can be simultaneously fed into the app to give them options for booking desks and meeting rooms.  

IoT working in conjunction with a workplace platform like GemEx makes buildings more efficient and adaptable. This is a great asset to have. These use cases give priority to health and safety, and they mean less disruptions for your workforce and overall business.   

If you’d like a demo of our platform and app visit our Book a Demo page. Our Digital Workplace Consultants will be happy to answer any questions you have.