What Role Does Data Play In The World’s Smartest Building?
In this series on how organizations can leverage Wi-Fi to gather data and gain business insights, we’ve covered a range of topics as they apply to retailers and enterprises. In this week’s post, we will look at a real world-example of how enterprises are using Wi-Fi tracking for operational efficiency.
Deloitte’s Amsterdam office, The Edge (aka “The Smartest Building in the World”), uses intelligent Wi-Fi and sensors connected via the “digital ceiling” using light over Ethernet developed with Philips. This digital ceiling assists with facilities management and proactive maintenance. Each lighting panel throughout the building is equipped with sensors to monitor bulb lifespans, carbon dioxide levels, temperature and humidity.
This information can then be used to plan and allocate resources. Sensors detect whether a room has been used during the day, and whether it actually requires cleaning – reducing wasted time and effort. Even the hand towel machines are Wi-Fi connected, alerting the facilities management team so that they can refill the dispenser intelligently, rather than visiting each unit in the building every day ‘just in case’.
The same sensors also provide valuable information to workers in the office via a dedicated smartphone app. For example, they can control the environmental conditions in their workspace, adjusting lighting and temperature for comfort. This can result in small gains to productivity.
The network of sensors acts like a beacon, helping visitors and employees navigate the building to meet with a colleague, or find their way to a particular resource. In an era of hot-desking employees, this tracking system significantly reduces the time required to find a specific person in a large building.
Elaborating further on the topic of sensors, Stephen Ward, Partner, Deloitte Digital (which is a design and development agency offering development suggestions and digital strategy) writes:
Sensors themselves are neither new nor rare. Every car has a unit that detects when the vehicle is running low on oil and displays a notification. When the light comes on, you top up.
The problem is that the process is still mostly manual – you, or a mechanic, have to top up the oil. And the same is true of many sensor deployments that don’t ‘close the loop’.
Sensor data is only of value when insights can be turned into automated action. Closing the loop might involve a connected car acting on the oil sensor data automatically, booking an on-site service and freeing the owner to get on with other, more productive activities. This is ‘small data’ in action.
Innovation happens at the edge of the organisation, where workers need to come up with solutions to new challenges that arise every day. But for maximum value, developments need to be integrated into the core – as quickly as possible.
Collecting data from sensors is one thing, but enabling intelligent, automated action based on that data is crucial to realising its true value.
In our next post, we will hear from two more experts on how data and insights can improve operational efficiency for enterprises.
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