Smart Buildings: Using IoT to Safeguard the Workplace
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a complete re-evaluation of our physical spaces, including the workplace with smart buildings and smart factories. Employees and consumers won’t set foot in facilities they don’t believe to be safe. Going forward, enterprises must take unprecedented measures for both safety and privacy. Fortunately, IoT technology is there to make it happen.
Smart Buildings in the Age of a Pandemic
For the foreseeable future, humanity-driven health practices will be essential in daily work/life routines, crucial components in combatting not just COVID-19 but other potential infectious outbreaks. Businesses are devising prevention strategies that are necessarily infused with tech-driven solutions. Going forward, enterprises will require previously unimaginable real-time information about anyone entering and occupying their facilities — and must gather this data without compromising privacy.
This not only provides the needed insights to minimize potential health risk when entering and operating in a building or space. It also resolves uncertainty or anxiety by visualizing “digital and physical awareness” that an environment is being monitored and managed at the top-most environmental health and safety levels.
Measurable Actions Businesses Must Take to Re-Open
Here are some of the challenges faced by businesses when re-opening, as well as technologies that can address those challenges:
- Physical distance tracking. In facilities ranging from retail stores to office buildings to recreation areas, it is and will remain necessary to gauge both the distance between individuals and overall occupancy density. Cameras — including millions of existing ones — will play a key role, coupled with data-stream analytics. Solutions will generate reports and insights, keeping management up to speed on the effectiveness of the company’s “physical” distance practice, while also identifying deviations and their root cause. Occupancy density solutions can be scaled up to open spaces, making it feasible to monitor the effectiveness of physical distancing enforcement and mitigate dangerously dense crowds through automated announcements and other measures.
- Human temperature tracking. With fever being a common COVID-19 symptom, there is new emphasis on measuring body temperatures. While Nemaura, Google’s Verily and others have developed body-worn temperature patches capable of transmitting data, many organizations will opt to place measurement technology at facility entrances in order to detect potential entrants who may carry risk. Footfall sensors would detect approaching people; thermal scanners would then send an image to security personnel, who would intercept risks — perhaps escorting them to a virus-testing booth for further evaluation. As with density tracking, this solution is scalable, especially with the advent of 5G; it could be used in multiple areas. As an added benefit, gathered data could be shared with medical facilities to identify potential trouble spots.
Sharath Prasad is the market leader for the manufacturing industry of Cognizant’s IoT and Engineering services. He is a seasoned business leader focused on helping manufacturing companies drive value and scale in their Industry 4.0 transformation programs by bringing together Industrial IoT and Engineering capabitlies into their operations. Sharath is an Electronics Engineer by qualification with and MBA in Business Management and has more than 20 years of experiences advising executives across industries and geographies.