The New Normal

The New Normal

Why IoT smart sensors improve monitoring and intelligent building management and efficiency

With the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across our nation like wildfire in 2020, the new normal had to adapt itself quickly to all situations. Facilities across multiple vertical markets had to come up with ways to put out fires by working smarter and more efficiently in a short amount of time.

HEALTHCARE IMPACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do business and has significantly impacted the healthcare market. Healthcare facilities across our nation had to react rapidly and adapt to the changing environment by relying on the latest technologies to help them navigate through these unchartered waters. From environmental monitoring to ensuring that all buildings are properly sanitized; the IoT Smart Sensor has become the new normal in the healthcare market.

As a pioneer for this type of sensor, IPVideo Corp. first introduced the HALO IoT Smart Sensor at the 2019 ISC West show in Las Vegas, it was known as a real-time vape detection and security device. A big draw was that this sensor not only detects regular vape; but can detect real-time smoke and vape with Nicotine or Marijuana (THC oil). It was also a great way to monitor privacy areas where video surveillance cameras could not be installed.

In addition to vape and smoke detection, HALO introduced safety features including abnormal sound detection, chemical detection and air quality monitoring. Back then, the focus was on vaping and abnormal sound detection in schools and when introduced in April 2020, it included expanded capabilities such as spoken keyword alerting, gunshot detection and masking signature identification.

In the middle of 2020, the focus was still on schools and combatting the vaping epidemic in our nation; but as the vaping epidemic focus shifted to the health pandemic sweeping the nation; the IoT sensor naturally evolved into much more than a vape detection system. With the ability to capture more than a million data points per day, and 12 sensors included per device, the environmental monitoring functionality became a crucial focal point and was a natural fit for the healthcare market.

With an open platform philosophy, the solution can seamlessly integrate into a facility’s existing video surveillance system and now with its recent BACnet integration with its firmware release 2.2; it has become part of the overall building management system.

The integration with BACnet allows communication of building automation and control systems for applications such as heating, ventilating, air conditioning control (HVAC), lighting control, access control and fire detection systems with no additional cost to end users. All alerts and sensor readings can now communicate with these various building control systems to address and make improvements, which helps improve building efficiency.

Our preliminary data shows that there can be a significant energy savings with integration into BACnet creating an extraordinary return on investment (ROI) to a building manager. In addition, building managers can manage multiple locations across the country from a single interface with data being brought to one centralized location. With nothing being recorded or video-taped, privacy concerns are eliminated as key words are recognized by the sensor that triggers a response to any type of emergency situation.

A CLEAR PATH TO AN INTELLIGENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

With people returning to school and work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the proper cleaning and safety protocols needed to be put in place quickly. Building managers were looking for smart sensors that offered health and safety features that included the ability to recognize cleaning chemical signatures by measuring chemicals in the air.

With the COVID-19 virus being transmitted through the air, the EPA and ASHRAE strongly recommend cleansing the air by filtering using MERV filtration systems or by ventilation which includes bringing fresh, clean, outside air into buildings. By having an IoT Smart Sensor on premise, facility managers can be notified when it’s time to change filters, which helps eliminate the risk of spreading the virus. It also sends alerts when to open dampers to let in fresh air and can be set up in a classroom to flash when the air needs to be ventilated.

Being able to now monitor, record and have validation when specific locations have been sanitized helped facilities ensure proper cleaning protocols were being followed and buildings have been sanitized properly upon opening to the public. Another important safety feature was being able to measure the air quality index (AQI) inside the building. It is imperative for buildings to have good filtration systems in order to keep healthy air quality flowing indoors.

Security integrators can benefit from selling and installing these types of sensors in multiple vertical markets that includes commercial buildings, education, healthcare, hospitality, aviation and the list can go on.

“We noticed early on that the HALO IoT Smart Sensor could do much more than vape detection,” said Aaron Simpson, president and CTO at Stone Security. “In the past, environmental monitoring was put on the back burner, but we are educating our customers with webinars and live demonstrations on what a video management platform should be and how the IOT Smart Sensors can add more value to a traditional video system.”

Another important part of this is touchless access control and having the ability to know how things are going at your building when you are not able to be on-site. Whether a maintenance person is out sick or are quarantined for weeks; it’s important to rely on IoT smart sensors to bring intelligence back to you remotely and ensure that all systems are functioning properly when no one is physically on-site.

After Fairfield Properties installed the HALO IoT Smart Sensors at one of their class “A” New York facilities, the data was analyzed to help determine the impact on building efficiency.

“The preliminary data presented shows interesting trends that have the potential to be analyzed and integrated into building HVAC controls. By operating HVAC equipment and louvers when actually needed, based on occupancy, and not just based on a schedule, there is potential to reduce energy costs and to operate building systems more efficiently,” said Michael Lantier, assistant vice president and senior electrical engineer at H2M architects + engineers.

A SMART PRESCRIPTION FOR KEEPING HEALTHCARE FACILITIES SAFE

When it comes to healthcare facilities, prescribing IoT Smart Sensors as a safety solution is an important diagnosis. The sensors can monitor air pressure in healthcare environments to ensure positive air pressure is present to prevent the spread of harmful germs in hospitals and any type of assisted living facility. Another huge advantage is having patients monitored 24/7 with sensors listening for emergency situations in real-time.

If a patient needs help, there is no panic button needed as the keyword detection functionality will trigger an emergency alert and even turn into a two-way intercom over the IP network if necessary. In addition, another huge benefit to the healthcare industry is how touchless caregiving has been made possible thanks to the IOT Smart Sensor technology. A leader in remote support technology, Ohio-based THS Remote Support Services (THS RSS) is one of the first companies to successfully implement the use of IOT Smart Sensors.

The company helps anyone with a developmental disability who is living on their own. Remote support is essential in today’s world as caregivers can be made aware of unusual activity through sensors to keep people safe and secure in their home.

“Instead of having a caregiver in the home, we use the IOT Smart Sensors in our customers’ homes to keep an eye on sound and air quality in the least intrusive way possible,” said Nicholas D. Alexander, vice president at THS RSS. “We have found the HALO Smart Sensor to be the next level in remote support services, which allows us to have the best knowledge of what’s going on in someone’s environment and be able to respond quickly to mitigate risk.”

With more than 300 customers in Ohio, THS RSS is making a huge impact on touchless caregiving and helping people stay safe without having to interrupt their daily routine. Information is gathered in real-time and reviewed by their staff using an online management platform.

As we move forward, we will see a wider deployment and adoption of environmental monitoring technology. Facilities across multiple vertical markets will need to be able to remotely monitor their buildings 24/7. More intelligent sensors like HALO will be installed and integrated with security and building management systems; creating a safer world for all.

If we look at camera systems as being our “eyes”, IoT Smart Sensors can be our “ears” and “nose” providing unparalleled situational awareness. By sending alerts if a patient falls out of bed or if there is an environmental issue at an office building; these sensors are invaluable. Integrated solutions will be expected and not just a convenience as more and more people get educated on the benefits of IOT Smart Sensors and realize that they can’t live in this world without them. The future looks bright for IOT Smart Sensors as they are projected to be the center that brings everything together for more efficient intelligent building management systems.

This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Security Today.

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