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by | Mar 31, 2020

IoT in Facilities Management – Understanding the Office

This blog is the 2nd in a series on IoT and Maximo projects. In the first blog, I introduced you to the Internet of Things and briefly touched on an example where you could monitor an office. In this blog, I plan on expanding on this with a couple of different use cases of how you can use IoT to improve your working conditions and help with space utilization.

Firstly, we will talk about how to monitor large office spaces, focusing on a few different things we can use sensors to monitor. The first of these would be the climate inside of an office, mainly temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration.

Use Case 1 – High carbon dioxide concentration inside an office space

Starting with CO2 concentration and a quick Google around you can start to find some statistics on what ideal levels of CO2 in a workspace should be around. This can range from 400 parts per million (PPM) in an outside space to 400-1000 PPM. In large office spaces, this is the average we generally want to keep to and see benefits when we are inside of this. What we see in a lot of offices, and more so in meeting rooms, is a concentration between 1000 PPM to 2000 PPM. At this level we start to feel the effects of CO2; people start to suffer with drowsiness and productivity decreases. In some of the worst cases we get above 2000 PPM and at this point we start to see people develop headaches and concentration from your workforce starts to decrease.

IoT in facilities management

IoT Solution

The solution to this starts with identifying the issues. Often this is poor ventilation. I have seen situations where one office uses a divider to create two meeting rooms. This leaves one room with no vents, so CO2 starts to build up. We also see large numbers of people cramming into meeting rooms too small for the group for large amounts of time.

Knowing your CO2 level is the next step. Over the years, prices for these types of sensors have decreased and you can generally find CO2 sensors that also combine with temperature and humidity, the two other factors I mentioned when looking at monitoring an office.

Sensors can be placed around an office, in the notable areas like meetings rooms but also in the main office space. By connecting these to gateways and sending the data to a cloud platform, you can start creating dashboards that can help better understand the problem areas in an office. Using these dashboards, you will start to see trends and can send automatic alerts when these levels start to exceed recommended amounts. This can create automated work orders in your Maximo system.

Business Value

Something as simple as monitoring CO2 and other environmental conditions can have a huge impact on employees wellbeing. It can be as simple as stopping clockwatching because they are getting tired and uncomfortable, and instead getting an extra 30 minutes productivity from them every day.

Use Case 2Improving space utilization in line with flexible working

Offices are not like they were 10 years ago. As more people work from home and the old system of Team A sits here and Team B sits here vanishes, we start to move into a world where anyone sits anywhere. This leads to some areas of your offices becoming busy while other areas or floors are left almost abandoned, and this all costs money.

You also get people coming into some offices just for meetings and hot-desking, and while online booking is possible, you get times where the system shows all rooms as full even though they are actually empty (and vice versa).

IoT in FM

IoT Solution

A simple solution for this comes from using under desk sensors. They work with passive IR and send signals when they sense a change in state from empty or occupied. They will send reminders every 15 minutes for the state of the room or desk.

A more in-depth solution can be found by using tracking camera technology. These cameras don’t record imagines but can track features, movement or demographics. This can be used to see if people are in a room and how many people are there, as opposed to just an empty or occupied message. They can also track people in and out of a building without counting the same person twice.

Business Value

Room booking and space inside an office can help with auditing and could be tracked easily by employees to know if these spaces are available or occupied.

A practical example of this comes from Sweden where people weigh in going to the office over working from home due to poor weather conditions. If they see all the rooms or spaces at desks are full, they don’t have to risk the trip.

Do these problems sound familiar? Why not speak to BPD Zenith about IoT projects around your facilities. 

Joe McKay

Joe McKay

Joe is an IoT Technical Sales Specialist at BPD Zenith and joined us through the IBM Champions for Growth programme. His role is to help the business development teams, providing demonstrations and technical knowledge on how IoT offerings could help clients in their business. Joe is also assisting our Delivery and Support teams to implement and support these solutions.

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