October 2017

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Yodit StantonEMAIL INTERVIEWYodit Stanton and Ken Sinclair

Yodit Stanton, CEO, OpenSensors

I recently interviewed Yodit Stanton, CEO, OpenSensors, about the opportunities and challenges she sees incorporating IoT devices and networks into smart building systems. OpenSensors aggregates data from a variety of sensors, helping companies to combine data from new workplace sensors with existing building management systems, CAFM systems, meeting room and desk reservation systems, and building security systems. OpenSensors operates the world’s largest repository of air quality data and process over 10 million sensor messages per day. Recent clients include; Zaha Hadid Architects, 360 Workplace, Envoplan, TripAdvisor and many others. I was thrilled that Yodit could spend a few minutes with us. Yodit and her crew at OpenSensors are on the forefront of IoT implementation for offices and commercial properties and I was interested in her perspective on what’s actually getting deployed into production use.

Assistance on Sensor Selection and Network Design

We have a multi-disciplinary team. We focus on aggregating data to make it understandable, but we do have an extended network of partners to help with the evaluation of sensors and implement the deployment.

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Sinclair​​ Where​ ​do​ ​you​ ​see​ ​IoT​ ​sensors​ ​getting​ ​traction?

Stanton:  The first generation of IoT building sensors have been replacing a lot of manual tasks that facilities managers were already doing--or managing. One example: utilization surveys are common method for assessing desk and meeting room occupancy in an office. These surveys used to rely a group of temporary laborers walking a circuit every hour during the workday for a week or two, noting on clipboards what desks and meeting rooms were occupied. Now we see this task being automated with desk and meeting room sensors that check for use every 5-10 minutes. They are more accurate and enable year round analysis of the workplace. The legacy approach of manual surveys was expensive and only sampled each location once per hour. The biggest expense in such studies is labor, with staff cost not just for gathering the information, but for the additional time needed for analysis and reporting. Because of the high turnover rate of these surveyors with clipboards, companies spend a surprisingly high amount on ongoing training and hiring activities. Often this is a very large hidden expense.

Other advantages of sensors was reduction in error, instant access to the real time and historical utilisation data and less disruptive for employees. Sensors enable you to get a better picture of what is going on.

We are seeing facilities managers go beyond the first generation of sensors and use them to run their day to day operations.

Sinclair​​ ​Can​ ​you​ ​talk​ ​more​ ​about​ how​ ​facilities​ ​managers​ are ​using​ ​sensors​ ​to​ ​collect utilization​ ​information,​ understand​ ​it,​ ​and​ ​act​ ​on​ ​it?

Stanton:  We are finding that facilities managers are using sensors to collect utilization data to manage their real estate needs. Sensors are providing them the data to address space planning and utilization, it removes the guesswork and frustration when addressing unending demands for more space. They can now have the data for average actual usage and peak demand for meeting rooms or hot desks. Measuring utilization allows them to effectively manage and cut real estate cost.


Facilities managers tell us that they check the dashboard everyday. They can detect and address problems in meeting rooms and desks that go unreported based on the usage patterns. Thinking about it, office space is usually one of a company's largest expenses particularly in cities where real estate is now at an all time premium. Whether planning a new office or updating existing office space, understanding how your employees use your current space is essential in creating your most effective and productive work environment.

Sinclair​​ I​ ​see​ ​from​ ​the​ ​dashboard​ ​it​ ​has​ ​the​ ​layout​ ​of​ ​the​ ​building?

StantonYes, we found that facility managers are often comparing their average peak utilisation information with their own internal KPIs of efficient use of the space. So at a high level, facility managers want to understand over a period of time what the usage information is. They are also looking at data overlaid over their floor plan to get better contextual information, answering questions like are certain sections of the floor plate more occupied? Why is this? Are certain sized meeting rooms busier than others?

Sinclair​​ What​ ​type​ ​of​ ​sensors​ ​are​ ​available?

StantonWe commonly see these sensors being deployed:

For meeting room, the sensors will answer questions about quantity and size.

For desk utilization, the sensors provide the insight for addressing:

The big driver for IoT sensors is utilization, but we are seeing employers adding environmental air quality sensors, such as noise, light and CO2 levels to ensure their employees’ well-being and productivity.

Reliable Controls Sinclair​​ How​ ​would​ ​you​ ​recommend​ ​getting​ ​started​ ​with​ ​sensors?

StantonI would recommend a phased approach, from proof of concept to full-scale deployment.

We recommend that you start with a pilot phase. Typically, this requires somewhere between 30 to 100 sensors. We suggest a one to two-month test to ensure that the sensors work at scale.

After the pilot phase, there should be enough data to verify network performance and your choices for sensors and connectivity, after which, full deployment can be planned in detail and implemented.

We have integrated with many CAFM systems, meeting room booking systems, and building security systems. It is a constantly reviewed and expanding list with many other integrations planned on our road map. It is not only possible to build integrations with the visualization systems you already have in place but also use our canned visualizations. The data can also be seen within our systems, but it’s really targeted at enabling flexible or multi-purpose use of the data.

Sinclair​​ I​ ​understand​ ​OpenSensors​ ​is​ ​a​ ​software​ ​company,​ ​do​ ​you​ ​help​ ​teams​ ​with​ ​the deployment?

StantonWe have a multi-disciplinary team. We focus on aggregating data to make it understandable, but we do have an extended network of partners to help with the evaluation of sensors and implement the deployment. Because we are sensor experts, we can also help train your team to develop this capability.

We have operational dashboards including phone and web applications to make the deployment straightforward. Our last install took 20 seconds per sensor that means 100 sensors are installed in 30 minutes. We shipped everything preconfigured and can be mapped to the floorplan and is ready to go.

Contact us if you would like assistance on sensor selection, network design, or planning a proof
of concept deployment.

For more information read  A presentation I gave which a lot of people found helpful. I think people are really trying to get lessons learned.


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