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Smart Buildings Facing the New Normal

Workplaces Are Facing Challenges In Adapting To The New Normal

With workplaces and life somewhat returning to normal, we are now faced with a new array of workplace complexities. Touching door handles, sitting in meeting rooms and turning on lights are a few of the multiple crossovers between workers in the office setting. The new normal brings improved and efficient buildings that will impact employee health for the better, while also reducing building costs.

We know that Smart PPE is going to have a profound effect on industry in order to better protect people in their working environment, but how can smart buildings also help combat COVID-19 and all its complexities? 

What Exactly Are Smart Buildings? 

Smart buildings originally came about to enable environmental management and security in a more efficient way in office and workplace settings. A smart building uses automated systems to control its functions; heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security, lighting and other environmental systems. 

The building is broken down into its various structures, which are mapped with a network of sensors, actuators and switches, and microchips that generate a constant flow of data and are fed into a model. 

The data is processed and provides key business and building insights to monitor the building status. 

Smart buildings were originally developed to enable people-centric environments, where the workplace became part of the way people work and allowed workmates to operate seamlessly with each other. 

Walking into a room that lights up as soon as you enter not only saves energy, but means you don’t have to waste time searching for the multitude of light switches. 

The same goes for heating; using temperature sensors allows meetings to run smoothly and at a comfortable temperature for all in the room so there is no fiddling with dials! 

How can they be upgraded to implement COVID-19 measures? 

In the face of COVID-19, there are now new ways smart buildings are being looked at in order to eliminate the spread of the virus in workplaces. Thermal imaging cameras are one of many ways businesses can effectively monitor and prevent COVID-19 from spreading in the office space, because they can capture the temperatures of employees as they enter and leave the office building. 

Alerting the system when an employee’s temperature is too high can safely inform that person that they need to visit a doctor to get tested, and prevents them from potentially spreading it to others in the workplace. 

Sensors in offices can allow social distancing measures to take place, as they measure the flow of people moving from room to room. The more people in one area, the more of a chance the virus has of spreading. But if there are panels in place to alert people that there are too many in one room, then social distancing measures can be practised safely, while still maintaining a good work ethic.

Office buildings are heavy consumers of heating and ventilation systems, which are neither good for the business bottom line nor the environment. By developing a smart system that tracks when people are in a room, the appropriate ventilation can kick in to ensure safe clean air is circulating and is appropriate for the number of people in the room. 

Smart systems can also be used to highlight what areas of the building are free for use, which reduces the amount of times people will cross paths. The system can then record how long an office space has been used for, and by whom. 

Cleaners can tend to these exact spaces, rather than wasting a lot of time cleaning the whole office. 

To return to the previous point about turning temperature dials, this is now a serious measure that needs to be looked at because the more people who touch switches, the higher the risks because COVID could spread. 

Developing a smart and intelligent infrastructure not only for lighting, fire and security business systems not only hands the power back to the employees as they move through the building, but it also provides comfort in knowing the building is working with them to fight this infection. Data analytics platforms that allow for continuous analysis of the systems ensures employee safety as they return to work, as well as have productive operations to improve their performance.

With the optimisation of room conditions and protection of assets through smart CCTV and connected systems, you can ensure the wellbeing of your employees and protection of assets. If you would like to talk to someone at Davra today about how you can begin to develop a smart building policy, please contact us here for more information.


Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO

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