ISJ Exclusive: Automating health, safety and smoking awareness in buildings

This article originally appeared on International Security Journal. To view the original article, click here

Jonathan Antar, Global Director, IPVideo Corporation, with contribution from Lori B. Miller, President, LGC Interior Design describes how multi-sensor technology is changing security insight.

Sensor technology aims to help meet the new expectations building occupants have regarding health, security and safety, working to proactively identify and manage the nine areas of a healthy building foundation: Noise; temperature; occupancy; alert lighting; ventilation; air quality; safety and security; humidity; dust and particulates.

Health

Have you ever walked into a building and felt the onslaught of allergy symptoms such as headaches, difficulty breathing, irritation of your eyes, nose or throat, amongst other symptoms? Oftentimes, people who are otherwise healthy will suddenly develop headaches, dry coughs, difficulty concentrating and autoimmune issues. This is commonly caused by Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) or Building Related Illness, resulting from common contaminants in the building that aren’t removed before they build up to significant levels.

SBS is a condition caused by hazardous cleaning and building materials such as adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood, copy machines, building machinery, pesticides and cleaning agents. These products may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde.

Have you been in a building and increasingly felt tired as the day progressed? This is likely due to the build-up of CO2 over the day and improper ventilation or mold toxins. Poor indoor air quality or HVAC systems that are not properly maintained are a leading cause of these common complaints. This improper ventilation along with temperature and humidity levels is a leading factor in the spread of airborne infectious diseases.

Monitoring air quality and other environmental health factors is the key to improving and eliminating these conditions. Education, healthcare and hospitality are just a few fields where safety is a central priority. You ask what can we do about this and how can we help? The HALO IoT Smart Sensor by IPVideo Corporation can detect contaminants and alert the appropriate staff members on harmful conditions related to indoor air quality. HALO can communicate via text and email and it can automate the remediation process through building management systems.

HALO can measure multiple environmental factors and present results to building occupants in an easy-to-read and easy-to-classify Health Index and Dashboard. HALO sensors can be connected to a Building Automation System (BAS) over its BACnet interface to instruct the HVAC system to open its dampers and allow more fresh air into the room when levels begin to rise. In the event that the building’s systems were to fail, HALO can notify the facilities team to take corrective action.

Why should you monitor indoor air quality?

If we can detect the presence of dangerous chemicals like ammonia, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds early, we can alleviate health conditions, reduce the incidence of mold toxicity and improve lives. Utilising safety measures protects the building itself, in addition to keeping people protected. In preventing mold and mildew from growing, HALO is also effective in detecting factors such as moisture and humidity. The cost of cleaning mold can add up to thousands of dollars, in addition to posing serious health risks.

The COVID-19 outbreak has taught us we need to monitor possible airborne contagions before they become an issue. Sensor technology like HALO helps us to do that with its early detection system and can be used anywhere.

Smoking and vaping detection

In most modern-day commercial buildings, smoking of any kind is prohibited. With technology like the HALO IoT Smart Sensor, smoking and vaping of tobacco or THC can be detected almost instantaneously, allowing building security personnel to act accordingly before a room suffers damage due to smoking and vaping.

Safety

Building security often goes under the radar when it comes to occupant considerations of everything that goes into providing a safe and secure building. Of course, that soon changes if the minimum expectations of security and peace of mind are not met. For those managing and working in building security, a delicate equilibrium must first be reached: Security vs. privacy.

HALO is designed for privacy areas as it does not have a camera or record audio conversations. Utilizing 14+ sensors, HALO can provide security for building occupants and staff with keyword alerting, panic buttons and gunshot detection features. The system can also alert on audible disturbances. Should a large-scale emergency occur, HALO can also act as an event alert system, ensuring all building occupants are alerted swiftly via Panic Button, Escape & Alert Lighting and integration with most major security products such as a building’s VMS, access control and emergency communication systems.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the HALO IoT Smart Sensor is its cost-effective foundation – achieved through combining multiple uses into one sensor. As the building industry rebounds from the pandemic, many look toward modern technology to assist with the strains and needs of the industry; utilise the HALO IoT Smart Sensor to proactively identify and manage the nine areas of a healthy building foundation:

  • Noise – control indoor sources of noise such as mechanical equipment, office equipment and machinery. Monitor for sound anomalies which can become a security concern
  • Temperature – conduct regular maintenance and monitor temperature in real time to prevent and resolve thermal comfort issues promptly
  • Occupancy – know if there are too many people in a room, if a space is occupied when it should not be or if there is abnormal behaviour of people clustering in a room location
  • Alert lighting – visually indicate the status of a location with lighting. Show when room occupancy maximums are met, air quality conditions and safe paths to egress
  • Ventilation – meet or exceed local outdoor air ventilation rate guidelines to control indoor sources of odours, chemicals and carbon dioxide
  • Air quality – choose supplies and building products with low chemical emissions to limit sources of VOC’s. Know the carbon dioxide, particulate and carbon monoxide levels in occupied spaces. Constantly measure for their presence and remove them from the air when necessary
  • Safety and security – be situationally aware through non-visual sensory technology. Provide the tools for safe environments such as keyword emergency calls, aggression detection, occupancy and use of prohibited substances
  • Humidity – conduct regular maintenance and monitor humidity in real time to prevent and resolve moisture issues promptly. Identify and prevent mold growth conditions
  • Dust and particulates – use high efficiency filters and clean surfaces regularly to limit dust and dirt accumulation, which are the vehicles on which viruses travel from person to person

The benefits of having one complete system that offers the safety and convenience of alleviating health, smoking and safety concerns is worth the investment and should be an automatic specification for every architect and designer.