SIMS: Smart Indoor Management System
There are around 1.5 million commercial buildings in the UK that account for one-third of emissions, making reducing their carbon emission a top priority for the UK to meet its 2050 net-zero target and carbon budgets (UK Heat and Buildings Strategy 2021). Heating and Ventilation (HVAC) accounts for 40% of the energy use in commercial buildings (environment.gov.au).
Smart building automation is recognised as a key enabling technology for tackling the energy waste in buildings (UK Heat and Buildings Strategy 2021). Detailed and real-time monitoring of the occupancy status is the corner stone of building automation services. DIREK provide a scalable and cost-effective solution for accurate, privacy aware monitoring of building utilisation.
SIMS is the latest patent-pending technology (GB2111528.2) developed by DIREK, which offers an indoor radar technology to identify occupants’ activity and proximity, without requiring them to install any mobile application or use wearable tags.
SIMS technology relies on wireless signals that are emitted from existing IT/IoT infrastructure indoor environments (e.g., WiFi), making it a cost-effective solution. SIMS captures signal fluctuations due to occupants’ presence and its AI engine then analyses signals and estimates the number and activity of occupants.
SIMS allows user data to remain anonymous and does not identify individuals. Its proprietary cloud-based AI-engine achieves 95% accuracy on both activity and occupancy detection and unlike camera-based solutions, SIMS is not prone to the blind spots and does not raise privacy concerns.
SIMS determines occupant density, movement, and proximity within buildings to identify less utilised spaces for space optimisation purposes such as hot-desking, COVID and sanitation alerts, occupants’ safety in emergency cases, leasing out or using for other purposes to enhance employees’ comfort and productivity. In addition, the data can be used by Building Management Systems to optimise energy consumption in real-time and tailoring building services such as HVAC to occupants’ needs, which leads to up to 30% reduction in energy bills (independently verified) and significant long-term benefits to building operations and nationwide infrastructure by substantial savings in energy and carbon.
DIREK offers different pricing bundles to accommodate different customers’ needs. SIMS price ranges between £0.03/month/sq.ft. and £0.06/month/sq.ft, including annual maintenance cost, for two years’ operation. The selling price depends on the required service and total area. On average, half of total cost is related to the sensors, and 25% is for installation. The remaining is shipping, transportation, import duties and VAT.
DIREK guarantees that it uses the minimum number of sensors to reach the desired accuracy based on the customers’ requirement. The lifetime of products is more than a decade should the sensors be maintained sufficiently. Sensors’ battery lifetime is up to 2 years and Direk is responsible for changing them regularly.
The customers’ ROI varies based on the service they require. An average commercial building in UK pays 4kWh/S.Q.F per annum (twin_view,2021) which costs 28p/kWh (gocompare2020) which adds up to £1.12 / S.Q.F per year.
SIMS services costs 3-6p/SQF and saves up to 30% of energy consumption per annum (~ 33p), leading to a payback period in less than 1 year. Other benefits include, higher employee satisfaction, higher safety and security measures.
DIREK has deployed SIMS at Hilson Moran’s (HM) offices in London and Farnborough, with an overall 5,300 Sq.ft. area covered for occupancy monitoring.
Before SIMS deployment, HM created an occupancy baseline based on building design assumptions. The baseline is used to validate the impact of using SIMS for managing the ventilation system. SIMS offers a dashboard analytics panel that shows real-time information about the occupancy level and activity of the occupants inside the building and users can export daily, weekly and monthly reports.
The primary objectives of this study were as follows:
Energy Optimisation: HM is interested in capturing the patterns of their occupancy level in different parts of the building to be used to validate the baseline occupancy model that was considered in building design and is used for the implementation of the ventilation and heating systems. Post study validation by HM’s team shows that up to 30% reduction in energy consumption is achievable when ventilation rate is aligned with number of occupants.
Building Utilisation: DIREK identified a need for a solution that determines under-utilised spaces through time to be used in other ways to enhance occupants’ productivity. In addition, automated meeting rooms booking system and enabling hot-desking towards hybrid working schemes, using a real-time solution saves time and results in better employee satisfaction. Initial analysis shows 10-15% reduction in space can be made without geoperdising employees wellbeing. This is equivalent to £30-40K saving in rental cost for HM London office.
Health and Safety: With the outbreak of COVID-19, HM started to look for a solution to monitor the social distancing and congestion levels indoors, to reduce the transmission risk of viral infections. The SIMS dashboard provides a heatmap based on congestion level of the indoor area and infection risk. HM employees can now monitor the status of the building before selecting their desks and simply avoid crowded areas. SIMS platform determines the risk level of each zone and is capable to send relevant notification to users to avoid those regions and sanitise before using them.