IoT in Commercial Buildings: Improving Occupants’ Health and Wellbeing
Occupants’ health and wellbeing have become one of the core pillars in today’s commercial building operations. With indoor environments directly influencing people’s physical and mental states, modern building standards like WELL have been introduced to provide guidelines on how buildings and interior spaces should be designed to advance human health and wellness. As special health risks arise, indoor conditions could even have an impact on tenants’ safety and the spread of diseases. Amidst today’s urgent call for radical measures to protect people’s health across sectors, forward-thinking companies in the real estate and facility management sector are pushing the boundaries of IoT in commercial buildings to safeguard occupants’ safety in the long run.
Smart Building Technology for Indoor Environmental Quality
The use of smart building technology for tenants’ wellbeing at commercial properties is not a new concept to tech-savvy building owners. Modular IoT sensors coupled with long range, low power and low-cost wireless connectivity, are used to reliably capture and communicate data on various indoor parameters such as air quality, temperature, humidity and natural lighting, at discrete building areas. What’s unique about sensor data is that it can unveil underlying problems that might not be immediately recognizable by a human being like the high concentration of particulate matters and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or unhealthily low humidity levels. With an open wireless IoT architecture, data can be easily integrated into the existing building management system for automatic regulation of HVAC equipment to ensure a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.
Extending the Horizon: Tackling Imminent Health Risks
Without a doubt, indoor environmental monitoring, especially air quality control, will continue to play a role in reducing disease likelihood and improving occupants’ overall wellbeing. On the other hand, under special health and safety circumstances like the presence of infectious agents, these measures alone will often not suffice. Hygiene standards must be redefined and new unconventional approaches may be needed to mitigate health risks. The good thing about IoT technology is that it could be adaptable to diverse application requirements and scenarios. With the right sensor and networking solutions, property owners and building operators can harness the data they need to establish a safe building environment.
1. Ultimate Sanitation
As hygiene becomes a top priority, sanitization and disinfection activities are coming to the forefront. Increasing cleaning frequency is an essential practice, but occupancy sensors can step in to help facility managers optimize cleaning schedules systematically. Anonymized sensor data reveal insights into the usage level of shared areas without invading occupant’s privacy, so spaces that require higher sterilization frequency could be effectively identified.
2. Traffic Control
People counting sensors using technology like radar also provide a non-intrusive approach to floor traffic monitoring. By knowing how many people are present at specific building areas in real-time, the set threshold for traffic density can be safely controlled and maintained throughout the day. Additionally, sensor data can be fed into a web-based platform/ mobile app to help navigate building users to low-traffic zones, and underutilized areas could be repurposed to further even out space usage.
3. Consumable Supply Management
As obvious as it sounds, ensuring occupants have adequate access to vital consumables like hand sanitizers isn’t without challenges, especially when the demand highly fluctuates and there’s a current bottleneck in the supply chain of hygiene materials. With the help of wireless sensors, facility managers can proactively monitor when consumable supplies are running low for effective inventory management and timely replenishment.
The applications discussed above are just a few examples of how a smart building architecture could contribute to enhancing tenants’ health and safety. While technology is no ultimate solution to all health problems, it is instrumental in detecting and minimizing conditions where diseases and illnesses thrive and facilitates responses to acute health risks moving forward. At the same time, in the face of growing data privacy concerns, implementing the right technology with the right processes will arise as a critical requirement.