Over the past few months it’s become clear that COVID-19 isn’t just going to disappear as soon as the clock hits midnight on the 31st December 2020. There is now hope on the horizon in the form of a vaccine but this is still a virus we need to learn to live with, or at least live alongside, for the foreseeable future and although most of us can’t wait to see the back of 2020, the eventual return to normality will be a slow, gradual process.
Many organisations, particularly those involved in the retail and hospitality sectors, are investing in wireless sensor technology to monitor visitor numbers and ensure that it’s safe for people to enter their buildings. The recent emergence of two new long-range radio protocols which run on very little power mean that the end user now has many options when it comes to sensor solutions for their building. One of these new technologies, LoRaWAN, is a low-power wide area network protocol with an impressive 10km (line of sight) range, the ability to function across multiple floors and a battery life of up to 10 years.
Utilising LoRaWAN, camera-free object counters can make use of radar signals to monitor bi-directional human traffic flow and can be configured to work alongside other devices to control lamps, access control systems and other equipment. These simple but reliable devices can be invaluable during a pandemic, helping to accurately monitor occupancy levels and using visual signals to let visitors know if it is safe to enter an indoor space.
In the office environment, desk occupancy strip sensors are a useful tool to deploy when setting up a COVID secure workspace – particularly in spaces where hotdesking is essential for the business to function properly. Operating as a multi-sensor, desk occupancy strip monitors detect motion to assess whether desks or other areas are vacant. When the user leaves the desk, the sensor then reports a dirty state to activate an alert for the desk to be cleaned.
Global have invested significantly in developing interfaces to allow LoRaWAN sensors to be integrated with BMS systems using the BACNet open standard for buildings. Global have also developed a cloud-based dashboard, using Microsoft Azure, for simple graphical representation and data logging of values.
Wireless sensor technology has been around for some time but improvements in range and reliability are transforming the market at a time when it’s needed the most – innovative, low cost sensors can help businesses adjust to the new normal and keep building occupants safe at all times.