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Hidden Data And The Occupant Experience

19 May 2019 | Updated 06 June 2019
 

Honeywell's Dan Ritch believes accessing the hidden data in your building can help you create a better occupant experience.

Whether your building is classed as smart or not, writes Ritch, the systems in it are already creating vast amounts of data, which is unlikely being used to its full potential.

In traditional buildings, and even new ones, these systems typically exist in silos. How can FMs exploit the data created, and then use that to deliver measureable benefits to the people that use these buildings on a daily basis?

 

Auditing your building’s data

The first step to using data to improve occupant experience is working with a building technology partner to establish what information you have access to. This might sound obvious, yet even the most experienced FMs would be surprised by the devices creating data points in their buildings.

Some of the most commonly utilised sources of building data include thermostats and other sensors related to HVAC and presence detectors for lighting systems. Security and access control systems are also rich sources of data that can track the movement of people across a whole estate.

CCTV is something that would have normally been overlooked, however advanced video analytics software opens up a whole new array of smart building applications.

Hell - even fridges and other appliances can be IoT enabled.

Once the data sources have been identified, the next step is to see if they can be put to use. Many systems now follow open standards which makes integration is easy, however some proprietary systems may be more difficult to extract usable data from. 

To harness the power of this data and gain sophisticated real-time control of your building, you can connect your systems and equipment to a universal network and the building management software. You should now have an extremely high level of insight and control over your building, with the ability to deploy or develop custom applications.

 

Collecting feedback

When FMs receive feedback about something, it’s usually when something isn’t working or doesn’t meet expectations. Even then, the small percentage who will actually complain means that FMs are getting this information either too late to act upon if not at all.

Similarly, they are unlikely to hear about the parts of their building that people do actually like using, so when making decisions about a building’s services or facilities, it is not based on any kind of reliable data.

Navigation apps that utilise indoor positioning systems are growing in popularity with operators of large buildings and campuses. They can help building users or visitors to find their way around using a network of deployed Bluetooth beacons.

Using location tracking, a building manager can request a user of the app to provide a rating or review of an area or feature that they have used. App users may also be able to flag any issues in real time – such as when WC facilities are not at the desired hygiene standards and need attention from cleaning staff.

Consumer apps thrive on user feedback, with the five star rating now ubiquitous. Offering tenants a rating system they are already familiar with will make it easier to gain actionable insights as part of a smart building strategy.

 

Improving space utilisation and flow

Laying out an office is often based on observation and guess work. This may explain why a frequent complaint of building occupants is the presence of pinch points or bottlenecks – high traffic areas that can cause disruption, noise, delays or overcrowding. Yes, we can make assumptions about what will cause higher levels of footfall or use or certain areas but the actual data may surprise us.

Data captured from a variety of sensors can tell us a lot about how space is being used. In particular, occupancy sensors used to control lighting can give an accurate picture of when a particular area of a building is in use and the levels of traffic it experiences.

By capturing this data and analysing it, heat maps can be created, showing exactly how the space is being used. This gives FMs instant insight into the busiest parts of their buildings and helps them understand how best to put the space to work. This data can be used to make informed decisions on everything from maintenance and cleaning schedules to the optimum number of desks in a given area - and even the best place to put coffee machine.

But what surprises building operators most is just how little parts of their estate are used. Honeywell research shows that as much as 50 per cent of corporate space is underutilised, meaning that this activity can help FMs cut building overheads and add to their organisation’s bottom line.

Picture: The author is Vice President, Connected Services and CIO, Honeywell Building Solutions.

 

 

Article written by Dan Ritch | Published 19 May 2019

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