Smarter, better, faster, safer—Ensuring your spaces are Now Safer for Workers

   Cameron Mazza, April 6 2022

Part 1 of a two-part blog on how workplace sensors and video security cameras integrate for a smarter, more secure workspace.

If you care about your employees, they’ll care about your business. It really is that simple. 

Investing in employee wellbeing should be a priority for every workspace. Easy changes like improving the physical environment and safety of the office can show workers you value their wellness as people, not just as staff. 

Ava Cameras are powerful tools to protect your space, but when integrated with environmental sensors like Disruptive Technology’s tiny sensors or IPVideo Communication’s Halo devices, the benefits are multiplied tremendously. Here is how you can make your spaces smarter, better, faster, and safer by leveraging the insights and integrations from a security camera-sensor deployment.

Improve employee health with workplace sensors

Employee health goes beyond minimizing sick days. Like any machine, a company is only as effective as its individuals. Dedicating time and care to the physical environment and eliminating safety and pathogenic hazards are the first steps to maintaining a healthy workforce. Everyone is an employee, from janitorial staff to C-levels, so upping safety in the office is a non-brainer: who doesn’t want a better office! I want to highlight some ideas for a souped-up Ava and sensor dual deployment:

1. Water sensors and food temperature

You may have noticed the recent phenomenon of “Hygiene Theatre” where spaces from restaurants to salons to schools proudly demonstrate how much cleaning and sanitizing is done in the upcoming post-pandemic world. While the sentiment is often appreciated, it really only provides a false sense of security. Many threats to employee health go beyond Lysol-ed desks and hand sanitizer stations. Here’s how to stop them:

  • Legionella – Many offices sat unused during the pandemic. This immediately presents a risk to bacterial growth in pipes and other plumbing. Even with a return to the office, alternating work-from-home days mean constant on-and-off usage. Legionella, a bacteria that can cause deadly pneumonia, can grow in any standing water or plumbing above 68°F. Even the CDC itself experienced a Legionella outbreak in one of its offices in late 2020.
Temperature
How does this have anything to do with sensors? By tagging pipes and other water lines with temperature-reading sensors, you can have real-time alerts integrated with your Ava Aware Cloud open platform, so you know immediately when areas with pipes are too warm. Costly and highly unsafe outbreaks are suddenly mitigated. 
  • Food and Refrigeration – Similar to reading the temperature in pipes and water mains, sensors strategically placed in areas where food is stored can alert facilities to a broken freezer or refrigerator before food spoils. 
  • Mildew – It needs warmth and humidity to grow. Workplace sensors can track both, so if an area of your office space is prone to humidity changes or doesn’t get enough aeration, your teams are alerted before any mold can take hold.

But the use cases don’t end with smoke or vapor detection.

2. Air quality changes

Air quality is not code for smoke. Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds all contribute to indoor air quality—and can have detrimental effects on employee health. 

Air quality

Linking sensors to the Ava Aware Cloud video management system and setting up rules based on pre-determined thresholds will notify you of immediate or rolling changes (that is, slowly increasing contaminant levels) to the air in any office environment. Stop a smoldering trash bin before it flames and catch minute shifts in air quality before impacting worker health.

This is a real story from my previous company: One day in our 1,000+ person office, I was sitting on the fourth-floor petting one of the office dogs when the windows went dark. A massive cloud of black smoke had surrounded the building. None of the fire alarms went off, and people were unsure what to do, so we alternated between packing up and deciding to stay inside where it was not smoky and dark. Suddenly the floor began to fill with the nauseating smell of burning rubber, and people started coughing and heading for the exits. As we reached the exit, most of the office was crowding the stairwells to escape the toxic smell. The first floor was visibly smokey, and it was steadily rising through the building. It had reached the sixth floor before the alarms had gone off, and facilities mandated an evacuation of the building.

It turns out that down the street, a large patch of astroturf had caught fire at a food truck park. About half an acre had burned before it was extinguished.

Had we installed workplace sensors downstairs, we could have safely evacuated the offices with time before the smoke overwhelmed all levels of the building and panic ensued.

3. Detecting vaping

Vaping continues to be as popular as ever. Although smokeless, it is not harmless, with volatile organic compounds permeating the air around vapers. Whether against company policy or trying to reduce indoor pollution, vaping is often prohibited in office settings.

Yet, a recent report suggests 76% of e-cigarette users still vape at work—after all, it is much easier to take a covert hit from a vape pen than to light up a cigarette. The chemicals released from these pens do alter indoor air and expose non-smoking employees to vapors that can harm health (especially those with sensitive lungs or those who have recently recovered from COVID-19). Since smokeless devices don’t trigger smoke alarms (crazy, right), sensors are the perfect solution to identify vaping in the workplace. The sensors are attuned to specific compounds within e-cigarettes, so there are no false alarms.

Vaping

As always, workplace sensors are only part of the deployment—the visual information provided by Ava Cameras or even existing third-party security cameras connected to the Aware Cloud platform allows easy visualization of what is actually happening in a room where a sensor is triggered. Combined with Ava Security’s video analytics and real-time alerts, it forms a seamless motion of complete situational awareness, searchable camera feeds, and detection of visual, audio, olfactory, and vibratory information.

4. Optimized cleaning

How do you know which of your bathrooms get the most use? Whether it’s the secret single stalls on the third floor or the lobby’s less-used loo, everyone has their favorite work restroom. It doesn’t make sense to clean all on the same schedule—especially not in higher traffic areas.

Ava’s intelligence can create heatmaps to show which parts of the office are most used and underused, so you can create a plan to determine which areas need more frequent cleanings. Of course, there are blind spots where surveillance cameras can’t go, like outside (and definitely not inside) a restroom.

This is where sensor technology completes the picture—installing a tiny, inconspicuous sensor on the frame of the restroom door can tell you how often people are entering your facilities. The data collected can all be visualized graphically in the Ava Aware Cloud, allowing for more efficient cleaning schedules and a safer overall workplace.

Read the second part of how Ava Aware Cloud and video security cameras integrate with workplace sensors to make the new office space safer and better than ever.