Building management for schools, hospitals or large offices can be highly challenging. But the Internet of Things is making it easier to ensure better security, comfort and transparency.
Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, too dark, too stuffy: People shouldn’t have to put up with such conditions in hotels, clinics, offices and schools. It should be comfortable, well-utilized and, naturally, safe and secure at all times. The facility manager of a building for hundreds of people has to have eyes and ears everywhere in order to recognize and fix problems promptly. Fortunately, the Internet of Things (IoT) can help.
MORE COMFORT WHEN CONNECTED
Wireless sensors measure room temperature, humidity, brightness and CO2 levels. They are easy to retrofit without laying new cabling or ripping apart walls and can make buildings smart at little cost. The sensor readings are transmitted to the cloud via an encrypted Internet connection. Once there, the data is analyzed before being transmitted to a building management software program.
The facility manager can use it to monitor all the buildings she’s responsible for. Each sensor in a specific building, floor or room can be selected in order to check both current and recorded readings. Should the carbon dioxide levels in a meeting room, hotel lobby or waiting room rise above preset limits, a service technician will automatically receive an SMS or email.
BETTER UTILIZATION WITH SENSORS
The Internet of Things also allows the facility manager to improve building utilization. When offices are networked with motion detectors, as well as door and window sensors, it’s much easier to determine the actual occupancy and optimize it. Because quite often, booked conference rooms go empty. The result? Firms have more rooms for meetings than they truly need, wasting money for extra space, heating and electricity. Intelligent sensors can recognize how many people are in a room and alter the temperature accordingly. Motion detector data can also be used to optimize the cleaning of a building’s rest rooms.
IOT BOOSTS SECURITY
The sensors also ensure greater security for buildings. Are the doors and windows closed at night? Is someone still in the walk-in cold storage area after work and are the lights still on in the chem lab? The facility manager can answer these questions remotely using IoT solutions like Building Monitoring & Analytics from T-Systems (see box), eliminating the need for guards on duty to make extra rounds. They can also be used to monitor and document access to high security and risk areas.
RELIABLE WIRELESS IN BUILDINGS WITH NB-IOT
In order to transmit data, the sensors in a building have to be connected to a network. An affordable and energy efficient alternative is LoRaWAN. This narrowband wireless technology is supported by many manufacturers, which means there’s a wide selection of hardware available. When reliability and data security is required, however, NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) is the right technology for the job. The new wireless standard based on LTE was specially conceived for transmitting small amounts of data in an energy-efficient fashion just like LoRaWAN. The result is that the appropriate wireless modules for the sensors can be produced at low cost and run for several years with a standard battery.
Moreover, NB-IoT is also a perfect network for intelligent meters for power, water, gas and heat. These smart meters are often located in underground areas with weak or no wireless reception. But the impressive building penetration of NB-IoT can reliably send readings from a cellar to a wireless mast. It can do this even without a gateway, saving the need for an extra hardware component. And so the system uses intelligent sensors, networking with the Internet of Things, effective connectivity and an IoT platform in the cloud to turn a regular office into a smart building.
Building Monitoring & Analytics
Building Monitoring & Analytics (BMA) from Deutsche Telekom unit T-Systems comes preconfigured and is ideal for retrofitting buildings. This simple solution consists of various sensors and the Microsoft Azure-based IoT platform Connected Things Hub that was developed with Deutsche Telekom’s Partner Axonize. The battery-operated sensors can be mounted on doors, windows, desks and walls. Besides detecting motion by people, as well as the opening and closing of windows and doors, they can also measure temperature, humidity, light, noise and CO2 levels.
For example, the Danish firm ISS Facility Services, global leader in building services with 200,000 customers in 75 countries, is successfully using the BMA solution to collect and analyze readings taking from buildings. The goal? Use space more efficiently, plan personnel more effectively, reduce costs. T-Systems has installed around 20,000 sensors at various ISS customer locations in order to improve employee wellbeing and room comfort. The IoT platform from T-Systems has become a crucial control center for ISS to manage its buildings around the world.
IoT Marketing Communication Manager
Pamela Buchwald has been part of the Telekom cosmos since 2016 and is very familiar with the Internet of Things. From general IoT trends to industry know-how and connected mobility, the blog highlights exciting topics related to connected things.