Healthier Buildings with IoT

example of iot technologies for healthy buildings

IoT Technologies And Building Management

There are many companies working with IoT and Artificial Intelligence applications to make buildings smarter and healthier.

In this example from South African company IoT.nxt, they talk about how their building management systems are helping keep buildings operational and safe during the COVID pandemic.

The video several IoT sensor systems, including occupancy detectors, air quality and infra-red cameras being used to:

  • Manage occupancy
  • Enforce compliance with social distancing
  • Check for COVD related health concerns
  • Enable users to choose locations based on environmental factors, such as temperature
  • Provide management reporting

Looking beyond the video

To find out more, I checked out their interactive Smart Building demo.

The demo covers all the basics of what I’d expect to see, from room and desk booking, occupancy levels air quality, power levels, floor maps.

One thing that jumped out at me was the real-time location of users and heat map to show the movement of people in the office over time.

Other ideas and questions

Watching the video and playing with their demo raised some questions and ideas.

Enforcing Social Distancing with Desk Blocking

By making every-other desk unavailable for booking out, IoT.nxt claim they can help enforce social distancing in the office. From what I can see here, I’m not sure that goes far enough. My personal experience suggests that people would use the desk anyway and wait to be evicted from it if someone turns up with a valid booking. Perhaps it would be more compliant to raise an alert if the desk was used without the appropriate booking. The alert coupled be as simple as an uncomfortable or embarrassing flashing flight above the desk.

Indoor Location and Navigation

How is the location determined? Is it from the use of the app on a smartphone, or from other passive positioning systems (like the system BEAD uses in my article here.)

If it is smartphone, how do they keep track on occupants who are not registered, such as guests?

Having the real-time location and floor maps could solve one of the biggest headaches many of us have suffered in corporate offices – finding the meeting room you booked! Navigation to the desk, or meeting room would be an awesome feature to include.

Navigation by Light

On a side note, there are many solutions for indoor navigation and location based asset tracking. One I particularly like is through the use of visible light, like this solution from Acuity Brands.

Environment factors – noise

Choosing your desk by temperature or air quality is interesting, but in my experience one of the biggest factors is noise. As I mentioned in a previous article, noise is more than just a nuisance and it would be really useful to choose a desk based on both the ambient noise and the impact of your loud conf-call on neighbouring desks.

COVID Compliance – Mask Detection

In addition to occupancy and occupant body temperatures, technology like this from NATIX could help measure and report on mask-wearing compliance, without violating privacy.

COVID Compliance – sanitisation

The interactive demo and video talk about desk booking, utilisation reporting and facilities cleaning schedules. Perhaps in the heightened security around COVID proactive monitoring of desk occupant health as well as automated desk sanitisation after the occupant has left could be interesting too?