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As vaccination rates for COVID-19 continue to rise, the global business community is advancing the conversation about returning to work. Employees that were housed in large private and multi-tenant office spaces in major urban and suburban centres are being presented an array of options, many of which include a part-time return to an office environment that prioritises spaces for collaboration over desks, at which individual employees sit and work.

The redrawing of workspaces for this new elastic workforce presents challenges and opportunities for facilities and operations staff. While there may be fewer individuals in the office on any given day, the spaces in which they gather must be conducive to face to face interactions, while adhering to current health and safety regulations.

Next-gen smart cameras

New generation of smart cameras is providing enhanced security and safety functionality to building staff

Technology is the key to this transition. A new generation of smart cameras is providing enhanced security and safety functionality to building tenants and staff. At the same time, these same cameras also handle return to work measures, where required — monitoring adherence to social distancing, face mask requirements or corporate occupancy management policies.

These cameras, which operate on an open platform from Security & Safety Things GmbH (S&ST), are capable of running a variety of different apps, much like a smartphone. When equipped with AI-enabled video analytics, these cameras help facility operators to more efficiently manage day-to-day operations, automate staff intensive processes and optimise the usage of space.

Optimised building traffic flow with analytics

Data provided by these devices assists security managers, landlords and building managers in analysing foot traffic with people counting or flow detection applications. These analytics can improve building or lobby flow, by identifying the cause of bottlenecking or other choke points, during busy morning and evening walk-in/walk-out hours.

Conversely, as many businesses are considering adopting a longer-term virtual workforce model, smart security camera applications can help facility managers evaluate facility usage for space utilisation or real estate decisions.

Enhancing facility maintenance

Smart cameras are also helpful in basic facility maintenance, by identifying open work and meeting spaces with sufficient space for social distancing and assessing the cleanliness of each area or recording the last time the area had been sanitised.

Additionally, they’re able to identify if conference room lights or devices have been left on or notify personnel of stock items needed in office break rooms.

Smart surveillance prioritises building safety

One additional benefit is how smart cameras play an important role in fire and safety prevention

One additional benefit is how smart cameras play an important role in fire and safety prevention, through the early detection of flames, smoke or spills in buildings. Video analytics, combined with AI and other current technologies, can detect such incidents in an early state and trigger alarms faster, and more reliably than humans.

This prioritisation of building safety can lead to a decrease in insurance risk and high premium costs, as costs of property insurance correlate with risks from fire or water damage.

Future of IoT in buildings

Smart video analytics can help to manage buildings more easily and efficiently. Now is an ideal time for landlords and operators of commercial buildings to invest in this new breed of smart security cameras, which can be flexibly equipped and re-equipped with many different video analytics applications from an application store.

With this model, cameras are powerful, intelligent edge sensors that can be used for dynamic healthy workplace concerns and in the future, could be repurposed to improve building safety and visitor experience. The key is to invest into this technology today, in order to have the flexibility when it will be needed.

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