Posted on 13 May 2020

Tackling the spread of Corona in the workplace: bGrid offers valuable data insights into air quality and indoor climate

As researchers work tirelessly to find a vaccine for COVID-19, our only defense against the virus in the meantime is in taking preventative measures. Understanding how the virus spreads not only across outdoor public spaces but also throughout indoor environments is especially critical for businesses to grasp. As research points to the possibilities of the airborne spread of COVID-19, WHO has published the guideline Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19, which states “When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid.” and people “can catch COVID by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them”. 

As estimates vary from region to region about the length of this period of pre-vaccine uncertainty, with several research studies underway to explore more into detail how COVID-19 spreads particularly through airborne pathogens, the bGrid team have been actively working on a solution for businesses in their safe return of employees back to their workplaces. 

That’s why the team at bGrid have has been actively working on bGrid COVID Office Safety Solution (bCOSS), which has been developed to offer valuable data insights to building owners and occupants through combined measurement of not only building utilization but importantly CO2 and humidity.

What can building owners and employers do?  

Monitoring is key, in prevention. Our 3-layer bGrid COVID Office Safety Solution (bCOSS) monitors building occupancy, air quality, and indoor climate so your company can gain valuable data insights into what’s happening within your building. These insights can help owners, operators and occupiers in adhering physical distancing and in ensuring safe air quality, thus to help combat the spread of corona in the workplace.  

bCOSS 3-layered solution features utilizes the LEDs on each bGrid multi-sensor which light up green, yellow or red to alert occupants to the air quality of a room. bCOSS web interface clearly maps out the utilization of rooms within your building, to inform occupants of air quality and overcrowding. bCOSS daily Power BI reporting (Power BI) delivers building data with actionable insights for employers and facility management. With this the combined focus of measuring building utilization and air quality levels bCOSS helps reduce and monitor chance of contamination risks in the return to the workplace.  

Combined measurement and make smart decisions  

Data is called the ‘new gold’ for a reason. Better planning and decisions can be made for the future by collecting data on the use of a building with bGrid multi- sensors, better planning and decisions can be made for the future. bCOSS uses a combined approach of measuring air quality, humidity and building utilization to create safer working environments for building users.  

Air quality 

bCOSS determines air quality by gathering CO2 data of CO2 levels via bGrid multi- sensors, indicating whether there is sufficient fresh air in a room. Elevated CO2 levels can indicate insufficient ventilation or air pollution due to air breathed exhaled out by building occupants. Recent studies have shown that airborne pathogens, for example COVID-19, can linger in a room over time. MIT conducted a novel study Violent expiratory events: on coughing and sneezing, which by using high-speed imaging uncovers the way coughs and sneezes stay airborne for long distances.  

In the paper Lydia Bourouiba, assistant professor at MIT and co-author of the study states, “You can have ventilation contamination in a much more direct way than we would have expected originally,” and she continues “The cloud entrains ambient air into it and continues to grow and mix,”. “But as the cloud grows, it slows down, and so is less able to suspend the droplets within it. You thus cannot model this as isolated droplets moving ballistically.” As research shows small droplets or (aerosols) can remain suspended in the air over longer periods of time, this can lead to deterioration of air quality and increased contamination risks. Adequate ventilation removes the aerosols and hence reduces the contamination risks – and inadequate ventilation is visible in elevated CO2 levels. This importance of indoor climate can also pose an important factor to air quality which is why bCOSS not only measures CO2 and levels, but also humidity levels. 

Humidity indoor climate 

As research tells us conditions with an absolute humidity that is too low or too high are known to have increased infections risks.  

Relevant for human-to-human viral transmissions is the climate in enclosed spaces, were we spend 90% of our lifetime, interact, work, sleep, commute and share a limited amount of breathing air. In heated, dry indoor air (20C, 20% Relative Humidity) 80% of Coronaviruses on surfaces stay viable for a week. From these surfaces viruses may be transmitted by direct and indirect contact as well as by resuspension and inhalation to susceptible and inhalation to susceptible persons. Humidification of the air to 50% Relative Humidity, reduces the viable viruses to less than 1% in 2 days and significantly decreases the infection risk.” 

Keeping absolute humidity homogeneous throughout a building is important to help reduce risks of airborne aerosol quantity and duration it lingers in the air. Therefore, monitoring it is not only important to measure air quality via CO2 levels but also to monitor your buildings indoor climate. bCOSS measures this data to presented in a daily (Power BI) report which indicates good, moderate, air quality poor conditions. 

Building utilization 

As bGrid multi-sensors gather movement intensity data we can build a picture of space utilization and workplace utilization, here bCOSS solution provides valuable data insights to building facility management, so they can gain better insights into how they improve building performance and safety reforming. This indicates how many people there are in a certain area of the office and allows the occupier to review if the office layout and utilization provides enough space for employees to move freely and adhere to physical distancing policy. Knowing what is happening in your building is key to planning and avoiding overcrowding.  

With this combined focus of measuring building utilization and air quality levels via humidity and CO2 data, bCOSS helps reduce chance of contamination in the return to the workplace. What is your business doing in preparation for employees return to your workplace?  

bCOSS our unique 3-layered solution 

Provides insight to office workers, facility managers and employers through: 

  1. bCOSS local feedback: through ceiling based LED colors. Each bGrid node has colored LEDs that light up to clearly indicate the safety status (green/orange/red) of meeting rooms and workplaces. This informs staff and guests alike of safe workplace areas and meeting rooms, and when it is important to leave these areas due to over-utilization or deteriorating air quality. 
  2. bCOSS web interface: for kiosk screen, laptop and smart phone: this provides a live overview of your building floorplan providing staff and guests insight on which floors and areas of the office are safe and recommended to find a workplace or meeting room. Or if the current building utilization and air quality imply that it is better to work from home. 
  3. bCOSS report (Power BI): we provide daily reports with valuable bGrid data and actionable insights. This allows facility managers and employers to gain insight into how their office performs in terms of monitoring air quality levels and building utilization to help in the ability to adhere to physical distancing. 

Corona and beyond:  future proof smart buildings   

With technology moving at an ever-rapid pace, there is a constant pressure for employers and building owners, to keep their office up to date with current organizational and software developments. Smart buildings are a future proof investment to insure just that. 

The bGrid Smart Building Solution is the final smart building solution you will ever need for your smart building. A network of bGrid multi-sensors senses everything that happens in the building and enables fast accurate positioning of people and assets. The open API enables third party smart building hardware and software developers to easily connect to bGrid; it is open enough to connect and communicate with everything in your building from the lighting, the and climate system, to the coffee machines and even people through their smart devices. bCOSS is a testament to our continual strive to adapt and improve our technology, to the current needs of our clients and beyond. 

bGrid challenges itself to develop meaningful solutions, constantly innovating for our wide range of customers’ needs. Our team has developed bCOSS, this 3-layerd solution, in such a way that there is no need for physically changing the bGrid infrastructure; it is possible to roll out bCOSS for to most existing bGrid installations. Help secure preparations for your team’s return to your office with this 3-layerd bGrid solution. Contact us directly to discuss the implementation of the bGrid bCOSS solution.  

* the solution is intended to support companies to have safer buildings but is the customer responsibility to verify and ensure the compliance with the local legislation 

*Note: Topics are subject to research by various scientists. If views on optimal humidity, or air quality conditions change bGrid will change the threshold values for reporting. 

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