Can the IoT Help Combat Coronavirus?

25.01.2021 by Pauline Batzer
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Can using IoT technology to measure the CO2 level in buildings help prevent coronavirus infections? An innovative solution creates transparency and provides an opportunity to take action.

We now know that aerosols are an important coronavirus transmission path. We inhale and exhale the cause of a Covid-19 infection, and the more we talk and move, the more aerosols we release into our surroundings. They hang around in the air for hours and spread slowly. Outdoors, keeping our distance and wearing a mask, constant natural movement of the air ensures that aerosols are dispersed fast and the infection risk is minimized. As predicted, the number of Covid-19 cases increased in the fall because we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors where air currents are created by, for example, temperature differences or by people moving about in the room. The only way in which we can now help prevent superspreading events and so keep the pandemic at bay is by airing rooms regularly.

CO2 Sensors as Coronavirus Detectives?

CO2 sensors give a clear idea of the quality of the air in a room. The carbon dioxide count in the air we exhale is around 100 times higher than in the air we inhale. So the higher the CO2 count in room air, the likelier it is that we are inhaling air that someone else has just exhaled. So the CO2 level indirectly indicates how high the risk of exposure to coronavirus might be. The Federal Environment Agency’s guidelines are that less than 1,000 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in room air is harmless, between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm is noticeable and concentrations of over 2,000 ppm are unacceptable.

Smartphone Calling: Please Air!

With the right sensor technology, measuring CO2 levels in buildings is not a problem. If the CO2 count in an office is too high, the ISS facility management solution, for example, notifies office workers by means of smartphone app that asks them to air the room briefly. Telekom has been looking into air quality management since 2019 and offers a solution that can be installed inexpensively and with no great technical outlay in restaurants, stores, schools and public buildings. It records CO2, temperature, humidity and movement, from which inferences can be drawn as to aerosol concentration. The underlying technology uses the Internet of Things (IoT). The sensor module installed locally incorporates a SIM card and relays the measurements by NarrowBand IoT and Internet to the Cloud of Things, a Telekom IoT platform where the data is analyzed.

Facility Management

Facility Management (FM) is the management and administration of real estate, including technical plant and facilities. Facility services include business processes. The facility manager’s aim is to manage facilities with regard to their actual usage as economically as possible throughout their service life.


 

Artificial Intelligence in the Fight Against Coronavirus

Deutsche Telekom’s IoT Cloud is the central control element for all of the buildings that ISS manages around the world. The platform currently receives data from 20,000 sensors. They continuously record facility management data such as room temperature and carbon dioxide count.  In the future the solution will also use the data collected to make recommendations on how many people should be in a room and issue a warning if the number is exceeded. AI (Artificial Intelligence) software will calculate from the collected parameters empirical values from which all connected buildings will benefit without delay. Smart AI learns, for example, how many sensors and measurements are required to ensure optimal air quality in offices and public buildings.

The Cloud of Things

The Cloud of Things is a cloud-based IoT application platform for remotely connecting, managing and controlling machinery and equipment.

Its benefits are:
 

  • Real-time Monitoring
    Keeps a real-time eye on machinery and equipment and responds to alarms and events.
  • Remote Maintenance
    Provides remote access to connected devices via the Cloud of Things web portal.
  • Individual Branding
    Companies can simply adapt the appearance of the Cloud of Things and the domain to their brand identity.
  • Multi-client Capability
    An unlimited number of separate sub-clients can be maintained.
  • Rules & Alarms
    Specify rules and alarms and react to deviations from defined thresholds.
  • Extensive Data Analyses
    Use collected data to identify anomalies at an early stage and make sound business decisions based on prediction models developed in-house.

IoT Goes Green

In addition to improving air quality the IoT solution helps companies to reduce energy and cleaning service costs. The measurements convey a detailed and transparent picture of the actual building use. That is why the solution recently received a “We care” label. Telekom awards the label for products and services that make a positive contribution to better climate protection and responsible use of resources.

CO2  Sensors Help in the Corona Crisis

Many factors influence how high the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is in a room. How big is the room? How many people are in it? Can they keep a sufficient distance from each other? Are they wearing full-face masks? Is everybody talking or are just some of them? Digital solutions such as air quality management are certainly a good guide to room ventilation and thereby to minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.


 

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Pauline Batzer
Pauline Batzer

Project Manager IoT

Since 2015, Pauline has been passionate about the variety of the IoT world. She has gained a lot of experience with the Internet of Things from different perspectives by working with customers, partners, and start-up companies. For the Telekom IoT blog she writes about technological trends, products, and innovations in the Internet of Things which are implemented in different industries.