Work smarter, work better and in the end smile more for the camera. IoT in the workplace.

Our house announced this morning that there was smoke in Bedroom 1. For five panicked minutes I struggled to remember which one was bedroom 1. It then announced “The smoke is getting worse in bedroom 1.” We reset the device and checked the attic and the ceilings to make sure there was no fire. In the end I suspect it was a false positive.

One of the reasons why we moved to smart detectors in the house is that I am a geek. The other is that we had problems with the writing in Bedroom 1. Apparently we still have problems with the writing in bedroom 1. Smart detectors and dumb detectors still need good wiring. The difference being that the smart detector announced that there was smoke but did not set off its alarm. It warned that the alarm was pending but for the time being only announced there was a potential problem. That is why in the end you move to smart detectors.

As our homes get smarter over time there will be more and more false positives. But without the blaring alarm you have to reset, a false positive is a lot more tolerable. From water leaks to doors opening the smart sensors are filling our homes. Previously in discussions of the IoT around us I’ve talked about three types of IoT devices the wearable, Stayable and portable. Where each has functions that they perform. I also think there is the concept of near field and far sensors. The weather at my home lets me know what is going on when I am not there. But when I am working with something hot right in front of me the temperature outside my patio door is useless. I need to know the temperature of the object in front of me.

Near field sensors provide real time information. Far sensors don’t always have to be real time sensors. They can broadcast information at pre-determined intervals that are then stored for later consumption. Even on the worst summer days in the DC area we only move 20 degrees. Over the course of a 10 hour day that is roughly 2 degrees of change per house. No huge need for real time weather reporting.

Conceptually however the information gathered from an elevator should be real time. You want to know how to optimize the elevators in your building. I wonder how much lost productivity there is in the world from groups of people waiting for an elevator to take them to another floor. Or waiting at Lunch to get back to your office. A million hours a week? More?

The pattern for elevators should be different anyway. You start in the morning by returning to the ground floor. Take people to the floor they select and then return to the ground floor unless called to a higher floor. The same is true at lunch. Return to the ground floor. That way you get the most people in the least time. The same could be true for buildings with large meeting rooms. If that room is full to capacity then return elevators to the ground floor when the doors open from that meeting.

Intelligence in devices and sensors isn’t just for collecting data. It is for making the productivity of people increase. If I consider that I can reduce the time that people wait during a day by 1% that will have an incredible impact on the overall productivity of the organization. If I watch the environment of the building and pay attention to co2 and temperature I can reduce employee discomfort. When you are comfortable you don’t need to stop and consider.

The job of a sensor is as much to let me know when there are issues as it is to monitor and let me know when there are changes as well. Issues are critical and many sensors are devoted to the concept of issue detection. IDS systems (intrusion detection systems) and video surveillance systems were built with the intent of watching for something bad. But monitoring the environment for variables that impact productivity is also in the end critical. Many companies have wonderful programs where they teach you to stop and stretch from time to time. But few pay attention to the very air and water going into the people they employee. Co2 levels that rise about 1000 ppm, actually cause headaches. It is a proven physical reaction to the air you are breathing.

We need to deploy IoT sensors for the environment where we work.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.