(photo: Tima Miroshnichenko)
24.11.2020, 08:54

Managing Building Occupancy for COVID-security

Facilities Management, The Indoor Environment, Smart Facilities, United Kingdom

Dan Shields, CEO of Building IoT management platform operator, Shields Energy, explains how realtime management of occupancy levels and indoor air quality is making facilities safer post-Covid-19.


Facilities managers and health and safety (H&S) professionals have had to make significant changes to the way their spaces are managed.


From offices to shopping centres, and hospitality and leisure venues to transport hubs, facility utilisation patterns have had to be carefully re-assessed - and spaces and people flows recalculated, in order to meet guidance from governments.


In the United Kingdom, professional bodies including the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers  (CIBSE) and the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) have published best practice documents to help building managers keep staff, customers and visitors safe. Elsewhere, building owners, operators and managers have been following guidance on the operation of HVAC systems from ASHRAE and national industry organisations.


But how to ensure that best practice is actually taking place in the real world?


This is where building internet of things (BIoT) technology solutions come into their own. Connected sensors and monitors linked to cloud-based software can provide true building health diagnostics and enable significant safety benefits.


BIoT devices that also feature cloud based software and feature digital twin technology, can also create a complete ‘picture’ of a building, floor or room’s occupancy levels and the people flow within.


By taking data feeds from sensors throughout a site, platforms such as the one we have developed at Shields (CODA) can create a digital twin – literally a graphical representation of a site and its systems and occupants – to show managers at a glance what is happening within their buildings in real time.


Managers can set up alerts when occupancy limits are close to pre-defined thresholds, or when people flow management requires attention.


Traditional occupancy sensors can be combined with wearable sensor technologies and CCTV to create a dynamic feed. BIoT systems such as CODA can also combine occupancy data with air quality monitoring and HVAC data streams. In fact almost any data feed can be integrated into the platform, with APIs enabling bespoke application development for any environment.


Meanwhile, building managers can use their actual physical building data via a digital twin to visualise and test different scenarios and create new people management plans as the Covid situation changes – without taking a leap into the unknown.


As well as providing demonstrable records and an audit trail of building health measures and management, deploying BIoT solutions gives building occupants and visitors confidence that all possible measures to ensure their safety have been taken.


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