This is where IoT and LPWAN networks come in by facilitating access to smart sensor solutions, at moderate cost and simplified implementation. Today, the drop in sensor prices, the optimization of on-board electronics to be able to communicate on LPWAN networks and the light infrastructure of these networks, compared to a cellular network, induce affordable deployment of IoT solutions. In addition, the networks being already deployed by many operators around the world and an extended catalog of IoT sensors, allow companies to deploy an IoT project with a quick return on investment.
Is the implementation of these technologies easy?
The implementation process is simple. If you want to use a public network, you just have to analyze the network coverage, equip yourself with the necessary sensors, choose an operator, configure them, then analyze the data reported and maintain your fleet. With a private network, you will also need to position and provision your own gateway. LPWAN technologies offer low consumption, can operate on battery, and can be installed in various places (false ceilings, hatches, slabs, walls, etc...) without needing to worry about accessing to a power source.
These are the use cases that will determine the choice of the technical solution. This ease of implementation allows property landlords as well as building managers to set up solutions allowing them to supervise their infrastructures and reduce their costs, without having to carry out complex work.
What information will a building manager have access to and how will he be able to use it?
With LPWAN technology allowing data to be reported, both periodically and as an alarm, the building manager can therefore monitor the areas of his building in different ways. They will be able to control and maintain their installations in order to consume more efficiently and less. And thus, improve and guarantee energy performance.
They will also be able to improve the use and comfort of the spaces, thanks to the analysis of building usage information and the optimization of related services, with the aim to increase occupant satisfaction.
Many use cases exist for Smart Buildings
In a meeting room or office, you can: monitor the occupancy rate to optimize spaces, trigger services according to room occupancy or at the explicit request of users (cleaning for example) and control air quality. Conversely, inform that the service has been provided by the service provider, monitor the temperature, humidity and light level in the room to ensure a level of comfort for users or alert them in case of a malfunction in the room (alert IT staff for example)
In toilets, showers or changing rooms, it is possible to monitor activity in these areas and trigger associated services, monitor the temperature and humidity for the comfort of users but also avoid premature deterioration of the building, or even give the information that a service has been performed
In a technical room, you can monitor the temperature of the heating circuit, read information from water, gas or electricity meters and monitor entrances/exit.
In a secured room, such as a server room, you can monitor the room temperature to maintain the equipment, monitor the room's inputs / outputs or detect water leaks.
On a roof, you can monitor a ventilation system, monitor the rainwater evacuation, monitor an access hatch and alert when it is opened.
And many others…
Thanks to the analysis over time, the manager or service providers can therefore model behaviors linked to their building and to users, and deduce operating cycles (frequentation cycles, occupancy rate, full and empty areas), technical systems cycle, and thus anticipate interventions or identify operating drifts.
All this, in the end, to improve the service quality, increase occupant satisfaction, reduce energy consumption and thus operating costs.
In conclusion, it has been our experience that, though the beginnings were hesitant, IoT solutions for Smart Buildings was the right decision to make. Given the number of use cases, the suitability of LoRaWAN and other similar LPWAN technologies to solve Smart Building challenges, our technical and economic models have proven to be a success thus far.
Recently, the Covid-19 crisis gives even more meaning to the extension of monitoring solutions in buildings. Air quality, user comfort, occupancy levels and health checks (to name a few) will be among the main concerns of building owners and facility managers. There is no doubt that IoT solutions will be able to meet all these challenges.
We look forward to being a part of the future that uncovers new benefits and improvements that can be brought to Smart Buildings and IoT as a whole.