In this “IIoT Applications” series of posts, we’ll consider the role of IIoT applications across industries. There will be insights from projects our engineers are engaged with and insights from the growth of awareness in IoT / Industrial Internet of Things principles. This post looks at the use of IIoT for Occupancy Tracking, or People Counting.
Occupancy Tracking Systems
Occupancy Tracking and People Counting Systems are upcoming applications of Industrial Internet of Everything (IIoT) technologies. In fact BitBox is encountering this application regularly. The premise varies between applications. At the core, however, is the need to capture the movement of people around designated work spaces. People counting is not a new application but its use is being enhanced by the development of IIoT technologies.
One key benefit of outlined ‘SmartCities’, is the ability to manipulate the city’s environment to best suit the population. The monitoring of rainfall, daylight, air quality and other atmospheric conditions enable public utilities to manage their responses effectively. While tracking the flow of people enables the provision of the appropriate quantities of seats on public transport. While occupancy tracking within buildings might result in re-purposing empty spaces services or enabling organisations to provide maintenance services where the use is.
However businesses apply the concept of Occupancy Tracking, people counting allows them to make the greatest use of their resources, whether facilities or even people.
BitBox is involved in IIoT applications that track the flow of people around buildings. For one, the requirement is to provide maintenance services to the areas that have the most use. Another requirement is to automate the allocation of unused desks. This works similar to car parks that show green lights above a vacant space, alerting drivers of availability. These requirements offer up a surprising quantity of challenges. How do you reliably track movement through several or many floors of a packed city office? How do you differentiate between one sub-location and another? Can you keep the data secure?
The solution required is a complex IIoT application. Strategically located sensors collect and transmit data via a Wide Area Network (WAN) Gateway that connects to the internet. Web-based programmes present the data via a browser to a user to monitor the output. The software provides automatic responses and enables human users to interact with the data. The use of proprietary systems maintains a level of security essential for the protection of data subjects and for the business.
As with many IIoT applications, the business benefits are varied. There is an actual cost of empty desks within commercial offices. A hot desking application BitBox is involved with, expects to realise cost savings through maximising the use of desks while reducing the quantity of empty spaces. Additionally, automating the identification of available spaces ensures staff reduce time in hunting for a space, increasing productivity.
Keeping commercial environments clean and safe is a constant challenge, so one company approached BitBox to provide a solution. The need is to provide sensors that monitor the frequency of people entering and exiting an area. This information translates in to cleanliness. Therefore maintenance teams that identify the flow of people around a space can predict with reasonable accuracy which areas require cleaning and maintenance services. As a result, by maintaining a clean and safe workspace, the business is able to provide a more comfortable environment for its staff which, in turn, increases their productivity.
The Potential Future
Occupancy Tracking has a potentially exciting future. Engineers are designing and developing more capable devices. Technologies that reduce power consumption and improve the effectiveness of data transmission, are resulting in longer lasting and more powerful applications. As a result, such devices will enable people tracking locations to be more remote than is possible now. Consequently, this will improve the safety of remote workers or vulnerable people in their own homes. It will also enable service providers to send appropriate resources to where the needs are identified, reducing downtime.
Finally, as the adoption of IIoT technologies continues, there may well be a shift in classifying the benefits of IIoT applications. Expectantly, businesses focus new investment on tangible business benefits, where profits are a primary consideration. Perhaps, once fully understood business will measure benefits by improvements in conditions for users.
BitBox’s experience is in designing and manufacturing a variety of applications that make use of internet technologies. If you have a need for an occupancy tracking system, talk with our team to explore how it can become a reality.
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