IoT and UV Combine to Make Spaces Safer
Office properties will see a host of changes over the coming months and even years as the world adjusts COVID-19.
Joe Brady, CEO of the Americas for The Instant Group, sees the implementation of technology-enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) accelerating a host of innovations, including UV lighting, safety dividers and sensor-enabled fixtures for increasingly smart buildings.
In the process, these buildings should become safer for their inhabitants.
“The biggest amenity that any operator or landlord can provide coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic is employee health and safety,” Brady says. “It’s no longer about cucumber water and snacks and peanuts. It’s about how they make sure that the spaces are as clean and safe as possible, given the risks that we’re up against.”
Sensors can be invaluable tools in not only detecting occupancy, but also enabling sanitization.
“You could have motion-controlled switches in bathrooms that would toggle to UV lighting to disinfect surfaces when no one is in the bathroom,” Brady says. “Then they toggle to LED lighting once motion is detected.”
Sensors are already eliminating the need for people to touch surfaces. “If we think about touchless doors that either rely on motion detection or card keys, there are systems now where you could reserve a conference room without touching anything,” Brady says.
But more innovations could be on the way. Brady expects to see conference rooms that are already prepared for meetings when people enter the space.
“You walk into the room and because you’ve reserved the room at a particular time, the system is ready,” he says. “You’ve told the system who the participants are, who is going to be dialing in and who is going to be there live. You’re not going to have to touch a keyboard or type in phone numbers to initiate the conference. This is the whole idea of the touchless, frictionless experience when you’re going in and out of conference rooms.”
Elevators are another concern as multiple people pile into a confined space. “The two biggest villains that are coming out of the post-pandemic world in the built environment are mass transit and elevators,” Brady says.
Keeping those elevators clean and moving efficiently requires a mix of high- and low-tech solutions.
“The simple answer for keeping elevators clean is going to come down to the office property management staff being sure that they’re cleaning and reviewing their charts,” Brady says.
Technology will also limit crowded elevators.
“The other solution is the on-demand elevators where you use your card key to get through security,” Brady says. “It [the security system] recognizes that you work on the 14th floor, and it already tells you which elevator to go to. So again, that is another touchless element to the built environment.”