Bright Idea

Internet of Things

There are some pretty amazing applications for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and cost reduction for building owners, companies, and even cities is certainly one of them.

During a recent TEDx Talk, Bastiaan de Groot, CEO at Ingy, discussed some of the novel ways companies and cities around the world are saving money with these new technologies.

  • Barclays recently installed 10,000 presence sensors at their headquarters at Canary Wharf in London. These sensors collected and analyzed usage information in their building, such as which spaces were used when, how many people used the room at a given time, and even desk usage. The associated application then recommended flexible work schedules, workspace reconfiguration, and other changes which saved them $45 Million annually.

 

  • Knowing that up to 50% of the traffic in Central Business Districts is comprised by people looking for parking spaces, San Francisco recently applied a similar system throughout the city. They installed presence sensors on all parking spaces, then used a mobile app to connect the drivers looking for spaces to the available spaces themselves. This resulted in an immediate reduction in traffic congestion and increase in revenue.

These examples are fantastic, but they are also expensive. While the sensors themselves are cheap, the cost to install and supply them with electricity and connectivity is a nightmare. So how to achieve similar results at a fraction of the cost? De Groot suggests incorporating the presence sensors into something that is already everywhere anyway – lightbulbs.

In fact, it’s already being done. The Dutch National Standardization Headquarters integrated “smart” lightbulbs in their offices to, among other things, communicate with cleaning crews. The bulbs tell the crews which rooms have been used during the day and which have not. If they haven’t been used, the cleaning crew simply skips that office. So far, this change alone has resulted in a 15% reduction in cleaning costs.

The bulbs are also being used in “Smart Cities” as nodes in street lamps, which connect to underground sensors in stormwater and wastewater pipes. Data collected can be used to monitor levels and flow in real-time, so infrastructure managers can be alerted to blockages or other issues. Dealing with these problems immediately can save millions in potential repair costs down the road.  

Given the existing electric infrastructure and low installation and replacement cost, the possibilities for these devices are endless. Perhaps building owners should skip the LED swap and consider going straight to smart bulbs.