06 January 2020 | Facilitate Team
Enabling emergency evacuations and preventing social engineering attacks were two applications to emerge from our webinar assessing occupancy management tools.
Last November Facilitate hosted a webinar, sponsored by HID Global, on the gradual development of smart tech, with a particular focus on its application to occupancy management.
The webinar, rather serendipitously, addressed similar themes to a recent IWFM event billed as a SWOT analysis of smart building tech, considering the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats surrounding its introduction.
In general, it's fair to say that anyone managing workplaces and facilities will be facing some important tech procurement decisions in the years ahead.
Of particular interest during the hour-long discussion were the main drivers behind the introduction of smart building technology - particularly occupancy management solutions - and the salient considerations for its implementation.
In its Stockholm building, Microsoft, which is a partner of HID Global, has reduced its footprint from 8,000 to 3,000 square metres. "That's a massive, massive shift in real estate
and, of that office, only a quarter of it will be secure. So they are moving the rest of that space for open collaborative environments," Breihan said. It's a "great example to show how large corporations are re-evaluating the workspace".
But Microsoft is an outlier. Based on research of 200 organisations, HID Global found:
- 30 per cent use their access control system to monitor occupants;
- 5-10 per cent use real-time location systems;
- 40 per cent use a paper roster; and
- 45 per cent don't know the number or location of their employees.
"You don't know where your visitors are, other than they signed into a paper roster. So there's still a lot of room for improvement," Breihan explained.
Breihan said HID Global worked with a US car manufacturer that had 500 visitors a day but didn't know where they went after passing through the turnstiles. Visitors were in the R&D areas, close to sensitive material.
Indeed, "physical social engineering" is a worry, Dance argued, referring to when a criminal masquerades as a contractor. They're meant to be servicing the coffee machine but sneak towards the server room. The occupancy management solution would know where they are at all times.
In the wake of a major event or emergency incident where building occupants need to be counted and located, occupancy management tools can help to do this.
Occupancy management can be used to complete an automated roll call to identify or even simply discern that there is the correct number of people in a particular area once an emergency has happened.
Companies won't have to send in their own emergency or incident management staff into a potentially dangerous situation to find missing people as the teams will know where they are and likely be able to communicate with them.
ID cards are used in limited ways such as for access control only, but offer greater potential if they're used by employees at workplace printers or to pay for food on-site, said Goodyear.
More can be done with current tech. She noted that in her training courses, many delegates want to know how to stay up to date with tech innovation. But they tend to "wait for information to come to them" reading industry materials and social media posts, seldom seeking specific information.
Positively, Goodyear said, there is more use of apps such as those that show floor plans and identify locations that require maintenance. And FMs are also recognising that beacons on mobile assets or barcodes on equipment are useful to track what's going on.
- Employee attitudes towards being tracked: Employees and building users are likely to accept being tracked if they know why: it will improve their experience, keep them secure and help them during an emergency.
But Dance said the occupancy management solution also needs to be GDPR-compliant and maintain the anonymity of employees and contractors.
"Generally, I think employees are quite appreciative when they see their employer taking positive steps to ensure that they're kept safe at work," Dance said.
Lone workers can be kept safe: if they're not moving in some part of the building or have not arrived at a new location by the time they should have, then support services can be sent to check on them.
- Bluetooth effectiveness: Bluetooth grants greater accuracy than mobile to pinpoint the location of building users would get from a standard smartphone.
- Flexibility: Cost, compliance and risk, and flexibility are big drivers at the moment, Goodyear explained. With Brexit and even from the aftermath of the financial crash in 2008, flexibility is important to organisations that remain nervous about long-term rents.
- Smart building tech: We're moving towards a narrative of 'smart building technology' that encompasses multiple elements, including the Internet of Things.