Can sensor technology help keep office workers healthy?

Ms. Stanton spent time with the building managers to learn about the commercial real estate sector and review data. “I realized that we already have enough real estate in big cities,” she said. “We don’t need to build more buildings; we need to use them better.”

The company’s technology is also used to improve workplace efficiency, including space utilization when offices shift to hot office systems, where employees are not assigned to specific desks but rather congregate as necessary. It can be used to book offices or meeting rooms, to reduce energy consumption by controlling lighting or heating and air conditioning, and even to monitor water flow for leaks. Many companies using the technology have found they can reduce their real estate footprint by 20 percent or more, according to Ms. Stanton.

OpenSensors clients include Zaha Hadid Architects, which used the company’s technology as a general aid in creating simulated design models, and the University of Utah’s ARUP Labs, which used OpenSensors to monitor bat populations in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. (Bats are an indicator species, which reflects the overall health of the natural environment.)

As Bryon BeMiller, who markets smart building technology for Semtech, a semiconductor supplier, said: “It provides a lot of data that is very useful to companies in terms of, Are they allocating the space they’ve rented efficiently? Do they need more offices, fewer offices? Do they need more common spaces, less common spaces?

But these days, keeping workers healthy is probably the most important use of this technology. In a recent paper on airborne transmission of respiratory viruses, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, researchers found that the optimal indoor carbon dioxide level for disease prevention was 700-800 ppm. With a minimum ventilation rate of four to six air changes per hour.

A recent Science article on combating internal respiratory infections notes that governments have invested heavily in food safety, sanitation and drinking water for public health purposes, but airborne pathogens and respiratory infections, whether seasonal influenza or Covid-19, have been largely ignored. .

“We spend 70, 80 percent of our time indoors, so air purification is very important, especially from a productivity perspective,” Ms. Stanton said.

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