Beyond Eyes, a brand initiated by Dutch construction-services business, Heijmans N.V. in collaboration with CSU Cleaning Services BV, has deployed more than 20,000 LoRaWAN-connected IoT sensors. This has been done for Heijmans’ clients in the Netherlands, as part of the company’s Smart Building concept.
Beyond Eyes uses wireless sensors from CLICKEY to collect anonymous data on a building’s utilisation, occupation, usage, and indoor environment. Smart Building sensors are then connected through the privateLoRaWAN IoT network managed on Actility’s ThingPark Enterprise IoT platform, where data is aggregated and then forwarded to Microsoft Azure IoT Hub using using ThingPark Enterprise Azure connector.
A sustainable work environment with efficient building management using seamless technological integration for flawless solution functioning
Heijmans, founded in 1923, aims to be an innovative player in the construction industry. In 2017, together with CSU Facility Management, the company initiated Beyond Eyes, a smart data-driven service which collects data in buildings, then combines that data with smart technology to achieve the business objectives of building owners and property managers.
Beyond Eyes is committed to sustainable, smart, safe, and healthy work environments, it currently provides smart building solutions throughout the Netherlands, with a plan to expand their solution, which focuses on health, welfare, and productivity of the end-users, worldwide.
Beyond Eyes Smart Building Solutions leverage CLICKEY Solutions and Actility IoT technology and expertise. CLICKEY, an IoT product and ecosystem development company founded in 2013, is an early adopter of LoRa radio technology. For Smart Building Solutions, they provide a suite of plug-and-play sensorswhich can be easily integrated into existing building-management systems:
- Desk Occupation Sensors
- Room Occupancy Sensors
- People Counters
- Energy Sensors
- Comfort Sensors
- Environmental Sensors
Each of these sensors, which can be mounted under desks, walls, and ceilings have a unique ID number, and are wirelessly connected to a software system, using LoRaWAN network. The collected anonymous data is then sent to the Cloud where it can be analysed and visualised via an online platform. Clients gain access and insights from their data through a variety of front-end applications.
The sensors constantly measure activities and circumstances important for office locations, such as: space occupation, traffic to and from the building, comfort, and air quality (temperature, CO2 levels, light intensity, humidity, noise level). Information from various building environments and locations is sent to Actility’s LoRaWAN network server, where it comes together on the Microsoft Azure platform in the cloud.
This is where data security and management occur, after which the aggregated data is made accessible on a dedicated application. Actility enables a seamless, industrial grade intergration between ThingPark Enterprise LoRaWAN networks and Azure IoT as well as IoT Central, allowing large scale IoT projects deployment in a record time.
ThingPark Enterprise is a LoRaWAN IoT connectivity management platform that helps customers build network infrastructure by managing LoRaWAN gateways, add new LoRaWAN devices, monitor network operations, and control the flow of data to application servers.
Beyond Eyes infrastructure is developed on Azure. The IoT hub ingests data which is then processed in Azure Digital Twins v2 (Beyond Eyes also participated in the private preview of ADTV1). Dynamics 365 is used as an implementation tool and to record the building structure. Furthermore, a variety of other Microsoft Azure functions are used, for example Azure app plans.
Allowing smart and sustainable decisions for end users
Beyond Eyes Smart Building solutions provide insight into the performance and use of a building which ultimately leads to process, staffing and building improvements to enable cost savings. The solution is suitable across a wide variety of building types including offices, museums, universities, hospitals, stadiums, and other organisations.
Beyond Eyes Smart Building Solutions provides benefits to four end-users:
- Employees: Employees are provided with immediate insight into workplace availability and occupancy rates in particular departments. Upon arrival, employees can quickly see what spaces are open to them. They can also reserve workplaces or spaces, make notifications, book transport, and register visitors.
- Cleaners: Cleaners receive precise real-time information about which areas need immediate attention (toilets, desks, conference room) and can modify their duties, planning, and routes accordingly. Cleaners can also submit specific notifications through the app, in order to speed maintenance or repairs for instance, providing a notification when a light bulb needs to be replaced.
- Facility managers: Facility managers gain full visibility through the app, so that they can optimise their building management, maintenance, and hospitality accordingly. Ongoing monitoring and data collection also provides insights that can be useful when it comes to refurbishment or new construction. While retail owners and other building tenants gain more insight into usage and traffic patterns with the ability to monitor different areas, measure occupation by counting the number of people entering and leaving, and also monitor indoor climate and comfort. The solution also tracks energy consumption of the building and where that energy is mainly used. Providing the mechanism to better manage buildings that currently remain heated or lit when not in use.
- CEOs: CEOs gain visibility into the actual occupancy and use of office premises, allowing them to make smarter, fact-based decisions about their housing and real estate strategy, that will ultimately save them money.
Lower cost and wide-scale deployment with LoRaWAN
LoRaWAN is widely used wireless protocol that allows battery-operated devices to communicate with IoT applications via long-range, wireless connections, allowing longer battery life, thus lowering the cost of device ownership. LoRaWAN is especially useful in large-scale deployments because of its availability, cost, and reach, due to its use of unlicensed spectrum, the availability of standardised, low-cost modules with long battery life.
Actility provides the LoRaWAN network server and a highly reliable and advanced IoT platform for network management ThingPark, already powering the vast majority (over 50) of public nationwide LoRaWAN deployments and hundreds of companies worldwide. ThingPark Enterprise is specifically designed for enterprises, it’s simple, scalable and easy way to operate, and offers a unique low power IoT communication infrastructure to enable an infinite number of industrial use cases.
LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) connectivity like LoRaWAN is an important enabler for Azure IoT, as it provides integrators with a tool to wirelessly capture data “over the top” directly from the sensor, without a need to adapt to intermediary systems or concentrators. It is the ideal tool to rapidly add new sensors to an existing installation or to retrofit existing buildings. For example, it is possible to implement air quality measurements in an entire building without a need for any wiring.
The LPWAN network can collect data from native LoRaWAN sensors but can also wirelessly connect to most legacy wired interfaces like ModBus, mBus or RS485 systems, and of course digital, analogue and pulse I/Os. Connectors between LPWAN networks and Azure IoT are key to the overall performance and stability of the system.
“With our partners CLICKEY and Actility, we managed to build efficient IoT solutions with a seamless integration of thousands of connected devices over a large mission critical LoRaWAN network, and our application fully leverages the scalability and analytics performance of Azure IoT. With our solutions, we make buildings management more sustainable and people happier” says Jeroen Groenen, manager of Beyond Eyes.
“Together with Actility and Beyond Eyes, we have been able to take bigger steps into the world of smart buildings. Our goal is that the solutions created can make work life easier, more comfortable and safer” says Pedro de Smit, CEO of CLICKEY solutions.
“Beyond Eyes is designed to enable organisations to bring employees back to physical workplaces safely. Actility looks forward to capitalising on this collaboration with, Beyond Eyes, CLICKEY and Microsoft to jointly develop scalable IoT solutions that are seamlessly integrated and designed for fast deployment and industrial grade stability”says Olivier Hersent, CEO at Actility.
“At its heart the Beyond Eyes solution utilises Azure Digital Twins and Microsoft Dynamics 365 to help workers get back to the office safely and at the same time, help those who are providing workspaces more efficiently manage their properties. It has been great working with Actility to make sure that the power of LoRa technology can be utilised by Azure solution builders. By using Digital Twins and Dynamics, Beyond Eyes can digitally model the structure of a building with all its properties. Using sensor data, they can visualise in real-time how the building is performing, how it is being used, and how to optimise it across multiple use cases” explains Tony Shakib, partner general manager, Azure IoT business acceleration at Microsoft.