It has been almost a year since the initial Covid cases were reported and the first lockdown; I started reflecting at the state of the world and the industry I am working in, trying to find a bit of certainty in the future. Please do read the below and email me back at Duncan.Cooke@stratus.com as I would love to hear as many opinions as possible. I promise to gather the best questions and respond in a following blog post, if needed.
The working world is in a state of flux – and it doesn’t matter what sector, what city or even what job role – things are different. What is clear is that current events are changing the normal way of working, and technology can ease the transition.
What is the New Normal?
In the midst of the pandemic, building automation has more to add to the working world. The goal of Smart Buildings is to offer greater efficiency whilst keeping all occupants safe and productive. Covid-19 hasn’t changed this goal, only increased the importance of it. With Covid-19 comes new challenges for facilities managers. Meeting these challenges requires new practical solutions to ensure the safety of all staff.
With the current state of the world, and financial implications of Covid-19, most facilities managers are having to do more with less – this is where Edge Computing can help. There has been a reduction in frontline personnel and an increase in remote working. Those still on-premises are using more technology which is increasingly being deployed at the network edge. Contact tracing and temperature checks are two examples of new building automation technologies that can sit at the edge. Now, with the fundamental well-being and safety of the workforce is being added to their remit, it will be facilities managers who will be able to implement practical solutions to meet the challenges of Covid-19. Adhering to social distancing measures, for example, is a brand-new challenge brought on by the pandemic. So, facilities managers today now need to plan for and comply with many and varied new legal regulations.
What Building Automation is Found at the Edge?
Building Automation Systems (BAS), including traditional Access Control Systems (ACS), and Video Management Software (VMS) are all edge-based frontline systems. It is these systems, already in place in most smart buildings, that facility managers are looking to update to meet the new demands of the changing workplace. Technology at the edge of the network is now serving extended functions with new Covid-19 focused solutions.
BAS will be critical for the data collection and sharing required in the new workplace. The need for greater co-ordination between these systems for health screening, will be much simpler when these new applications are located at the edge of the network.
What Role Does Edge Computing Take in the New Normal? Can it Get Staff Back to Work Quicker?
Deploying an Edge Computing platform is a cost-effective, timely and efficient way to deploy and manage health checking systems. Changing centralised, data-centre-centric solutions to accommodate the addition of new network-edge devices can be expensive, as well as resource-hungry. A zero-touch Edge Computing solution is one of the best ways to support the changes needed within an existing infrastructure without undergoing major upgrades. This gives facility managers the ability to implement and manage multiple new devices, and the data generated by them.
This does bring into focus the ongoing debate around certification of devices associated with Covid-19 protection. Unfortunately, a consensus hasn’t yet been reached. Let me explain; For example, let’s look at thermal cameras used for temperature checking – they are nothing new, but with these cameras now being used to monitor health, does this mean they now need to be certified as a medical device? What about the data being collected – does it have to adhere to GDPR or other privacy rules? These are just the tip of the iceberg… and the debate has only just started. One thing is for certain, when it comes to managing Covid-19 regulations, new technologies will need to be deployed, and edge-based BAS infrastructures are the natural starting point.
“Will Edge Computing get staff back to work quicker?” This of course depends on advice and regulations from local governments – but Edge Computing is a sure-fire way to ensure your building automation can support new applications. The right edge deployment can achieve this without major system redesign or significant additional cost.
Head over to Smart Buildings Magazine to check out a feature of this blog!