The pandemic has made businesses try to balance between the fear of lost revenue with the safety of workers from the invisible threat of COVID-19? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided guidelines, but for most organizations they do little to reduce the concerns.
Now the businesses need to focus on how they can apply these guidelines into actions that protect the health and safety, legal, and economic implications of their business and workforce. In order to do this, they need to start by bringing facility management to the meeting room to discuss how they’re going to be managing the building by following CDC and OSHA guidelines to save lives.
Traditionally, we have seen facility managers working as reactionary maintenance departments, tasked with ensuring a smooth production line and achieving energy efficiency. The development of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system in the early 1990s to the implementation of Title 24 for the State of California have cemented that building design and operations be focused on green or sustainable facilities. While these criteria were necessary for the wellbeing of the overall society, they have left us challenged to observe how we can swivel to airborne threats like COVID-19.
But, thankfully there are ways for businesses to manage this balancing act. One way of doing it is to focus on real-time data and analytics coming from your facilities to your meeting rooms to guide your decisions to reduce the risk of COVID.
Using Data To Guide Air Circulation Systems
One method of reducing air borne viruses is switching to 100% outside air. This will reduce the recirculation of air within the premise, the hope is to simultaneously reduce the spread of the virus through heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Theoretically this is a very promising idea, but in reality a lot of buildings were not designed for this for this kind of air circulation system.
So, what’s the solution? How do we make our facilities in hot or humid climates switch to 100% outside air and still maintain temperature control? Having a Facility Management App to log historical data, facility managers can predict the impact and capacity to meet this new goal. They also need this data to make sure the systems are operating at their optimal capacity to reduce production loss and unplanned shutdowns.
Traditionally, facilities have measured air quality looking at just CO2. COVID-19 has forced a switch to a modern approach like the RESET Air Standard that includes new measures such as PM2.5, TVOC, CO2, temperature and humidity. While this standard does not specifically account for virus disbursement, it will give us new data to model and help us understand a level of air quality that may reduce our risk and measure the impact of 100% outside air.
How to Maintain Social Distancing?
Measuring temperature, oxygen levels, and the physical location of people is another key aspect. Facility management needs information on people’s physical location in relation to others to determine if there is social distancing, and may require a device that can track temperature, heart rate and oxygen saturation level to provide insight into unnoticeable symptoms.
We see this effort already starting with mobile application tracking in locations within India and China. There was even data collected from cell phones for artificial intelligence models by Blue Dot for modeling and predicting the spread of the pandemic. There are, of course, technical issues and privacy issues that may need to be addressed, but can we turn an Apple Watch or a Fitbit into a prevention tool?
Alternate options are LiDAR systems, thermal imaging, and even drones as ways to measure the patterns of behavior and compliance. These new monitoring solutions also provide new data and explain how we capture this data for modeling and predictive analytics.
The Work Environment in Changing
Many corporate spaces were built using large open floor plans like cubicle farms, which are now in direct conflict with social distancing. Facility managers need to reconfigure space utilization, which will also have an impact on the performance of engineered systems like HVAC. Again, data will help us understand our capacity as well as our operation.
Alternatively, companies like Twitter and Google are allowing some, if not all of their workforce to remain in a work-from-home environment on a regular basis as these empty buildings will operate differently than their design specifications due to the decrease in demand.
If you remove Pandemic as the justification and look at the digital technology that the industry has used for decades in tracking products through manufacturing, and monitoring queues of people for improved staffing and customer experience, these methods are not new. Rather, facility managers will be pivoting years of experience into the hands of an unfamiliar solution for a new problem.
Looking for a Facility Management App?
Facility Management Application is a powerful mobile and web based application that ensures the simplification of your work facility, asset and maintenance management. This easy-to-use solution helps employees save time by providing instant access to facility details, operating details and emergency procedures to maintain safe and comfortable spaces for employees.