Making the most of the Internet of Things

By on 01/11/2016
Colin Kenton, Managing Director of KBR FM Services

In the workplace, across all industries and at Government level, the Internet of things (IoT) is becoming a growing topic of conversation. It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work and how citizens interact with their local authority.

Buildings can now communicate aspects of working life to their owners that were previously impossible to measure or interpret in any meaningful way. IoT is not just a ‘network’ – it’s a resource for evidence-based improvement. It’s safe to say this technology and how it’s accessed will quickly change the nature of facilities management.

With innovation in mind, there is great opportunity for local government to drive down costs and deliver a truly 21st century citizen experience.

Embracing the change

IoT, in essence, means optimisation and we need to build it into future plans for facilities management and service delivery.

While there are still some inherent obstacles to address with this technology – such as additional security and interpretation of data – installation of IoT is now regarded as a very safe investment option toward ensuring assets and estates are maintained and managed effectively.

The interconnectivity of devices does not simply mean monitoring, but rather in-depth analysis to help shape, manage and execute on the long term strategy of an organisation.

With the sheer volume of data on offer from a single network, there could be misgivings about how best to use the information but interfaces are now user-friendly enough that an analytics department is not a necessary prerequisite to successful implementation.

Maintenance – getting predictive

With the amount of equipment in use around even the most basic of business premises, IoT’s use as part of a preventative maintenance plan is apparent. But it’s not a new concept.

It has been used on factory machinery and on assembly lines for at least 15 years to avoid costly downtime. However, it is only recently that internet connectivity has extended the approach to consumer products and services which can have a major impact on how a local authority deals with it’s customers.

Networking devices together to monitor their effectiveness and schedule for repair according to the data produced goes a long way to ensuring any expense on replacement is kept to a minimum.

This data helps technicians to plan work according to when and where the equipment will require changes and what is exactly needed, thus ensuring that time spent onsite is productive.

With compliance an ever-present concern for local authorities and service providers, the ability to maintain equipment to a safe and satisfactory working standard is paramount.

This demonstrates the secondary effect IoT has upon a business’s productivity – where once inspection and testing of equipment would have been required in order to meet guidelines, monitoring devices can now do this job in real-time.

In an era where budgets are becoming increasingly restrictive, IoT can help make up lost ground where more generous expenditure would have addressed.

Spatial utilisation

Another dimension of IoT’s asset management potential is the way in which it connects and visualises space – it can help map premises and give you the data you need to see how best to use it.

This is a significant innovation for the workplace because it allows management to assess and address issues quickly.

Variables such as peak times, current building occupancy, desk occupancy and average time spent in a room, to name a few, can all give solid indications of how and when to schedule and shape parts of an operation.

Accruing data in this way helps avoid unnecessary expenditure on external assessment from third parties and also gives those in charge of budget a clearer idea of whether to spend more on space, or instead change the way land is currently being used.

Boosting productivity

It has been established that measuring workplace variables such as air quality, temperature, noise and lighting, and then making subsequent changes, can have a demonstrable effect on productivity.

Tailoring the workplace with the help of data is a more tangible way of addressing the issue of productivity – an aspect of the workplace which has often been difficult to quantify.

Bespoke workplaces are an emerging aspect of IoT that is now gaining more traction with organisations looking to improve the overall function and satisfaction of their workforce. While this may not yet be a priority for local government, it may be in the future as they need to provide the right conditions to retain staff and increase output on less budget.

Traffic control, smart parking, smart buildings are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to services growth and I think you’ll need progressive service partners to think big and contribute to the local government of tomorrow.

See also:

The hat-trick: how to achieve savings, better services and public policy goals

About Colin Kenton

Colin Kenton is the Managing Director of KBR FM Services

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