Implementing IoT Sensors: Everything You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

by Chad Smith on June 17, 2021
VergeSense + iOFFICE

While space management software is essential to allocating resources in your hybrid workplace, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors add a layer of valuable data so you know exactly how employees are using your real estate.

IoT sensors collect anonymous real-time occupancy and space utilization data, then transmit it directly to space management and room reservation solutions. You can use this data to maintain a safe workplace after reopening and also support long-term planning.

Before you invest in any sensor technology, however, there are some important questions you’ll need to consider.

How to build an IoT sensor implementation plan

What is the scope of your project?

If you have a large office or multiple buildings, you may want to consider running a pilot program first before rolling out the technology across all your locations. Or you may be ready to implement IoT sensors everywhere. Either way, you’ll need to determine how much data you need to collect and what type of data you’ll need. You’ll also want to consider whether you need to monitor individual desks or entire areas of the office.

How many sensors will you need?

Different types of sensors have different ranges. One intelligent optical sensor can measure occupancy of up to eight workstations or one room up to 300 square feet. A passive infrared (PIR) sensor can detect major motion up to 1,100 square feet, but the data is less granular.

What initiatives will your IoT sensors support?

Establish exactly how you intend to use the sensor data. Will you primarily use sensors to track space occupancy metrics, such as peak utilization, meeting size, and utilization by space type? Or will you use the data to help employees see real-time availability of conference rooms and workspaces? You could even use it to automate booking or automatically cancel reservations if the sensors don’t detect occupancy within a certain period of time.

What kind of occupancy sensor do you need?

Two of the most basic characteristics of an IoT sensor are how it is powered and how often it communicates the data it collects. Do you want battery-powered sensors or sensors powered by your ethernet? If you’re using battery-powered sensors, you’ll want to consider the battery life and how often you’ll need to replace them.

You also need to consider whether you want the sensors to send data to your system automatically when there is a status change (push) or whether you want to require a request to transmit the data (pull). “Pull” sensors conserve power and are ideal if you don’t need a constant stream of data.

How will you integrate sensors with other workplace technology?

You can integrate some IoT sensors with other solutions using an API or webhook to transfer data, while others rely on a hard-wired system that can’t be easily integrated. If you plan on using sensor data for multiple solutions (for instance, your room reservation software), you will need to use technology that supports those integrations.

Before you move forward with any sensor provider, your IT department will also need to understand the data supply chain. In most cases, IoT sensor data goes to the vendor’s cloud-first, then to your workplace software provider’s cloud.

How to connect IoT sensors to your workplace software

After you have developed your implementation plan, it’s time to find an IoT sensor provider that integrates easily with your existing technology. While iOFFICE integrates with many different IoT sensors, our native integration with VergeSense makes it easy to collect occupancy data and see it layered directly on top of your floor plans.

VergeSense’s AI-powered sensors collect occupancy and utilization data for entire buildings and floors as well as meeting rooms, shared workspaces, and individual desks.

The intelligent optical sensors can not only detect motion but also signs of life, such as backpacks, laptops, or jackets, to differentiate between temporary absence and actual unoccupied space. They don’t collect any personal identifiable information, so the data is 100% anonymous.

The VergeSense sensor ecosystem is composed of four different technologies:

  • Wireless, battery-operated sensors
  • A scalable mesh network, which conserves Wi-Fi bandwidth
  • Gateway devices
  • The VergeSense Cloud

The sensors collect a raw data point (a low resolution array of pixels), process and convert it into anonymized textual data, and transmit the data to a gateway device via the proprietary network. The space metadata, timestamp, and captured data are then transferred to the VergeSense cloud. From there, the data is transferred to iOFFICE’s integrated workplace management system (IWMS).

You can view live sensor data for individual spaces, floors, or entire buildings and use filters to display data for specific date and time periods to better understand utilization over time. In addition, you can see activity metrics like peak usage times and average headcount for selected spaces during different timeframes.

You can also view snapshots of overall activity across the whole floor during a particular time period, helping you identify over- and underutilized spaces and opportunities for improvement.

The addition of this real-time occupancy data allows you to see a more complete picture of how the workplace is being used. You can track metrics like average occupancy and peak occupancy to determine demand and quickly adjust the workplace based on actual employee behavior.

With the iOFFICE-VergeSense integration, you can easily identify, analyze, and act on utilization trends and make data-driven decisions, all from a single interface.

You can also plan and reconfigure spaces as needed to create a flexible and collaborative workplace that still ensures safe distancing between employees. Plus, you can make your cleaning schedules more efficient by only sanitizing parts of the workplace that were occupied each day.

VergeSense IoT sensors and iOFFICE also allow employees to see the up-to-date occupancy status of every workspace and meeting room within the Hummingbird mobile app.

The combination of these solutions also allows employees to take advantage of auto-booking functionality that automatically reserves a space when a sensor detects motion.

You can even use VergeSense sensors to eliminate unattended reservations by setting up an auto-cancel feature within your room reservation system.

How to get started with IoT sensors

Before you implement IoT sensors, you’ll need to develop a data template and provision the data with sensor ID numbers. You’ll need to input each sensor ID, the vendor, and the type of sensor into iOFFICE’s space management software. Our team of data specialists can help you input many sensors easily.

Once your sensors are ready to go, you’ll want to establish a hypothesis and a time period for reviewing the data. For instance, if you estimate employees only use 60% of your available desks, you can review average occupancy over a 30-day period.

Sensors give you the data you need to make smarter workplace management decisions and take action sooner. Learn more about what you can accomplish with iOFFICE and VergeSense.


Chad Smith

As the VP of Product Strategy, Chad David Smith wears many hats that leverage his 20+ years of experience in the industry. Chad collaborates directly with clients and partners as well as with the iOFFICE client experience, client success, sales, marketing and development teams to create the most innovative and valued solutions for our clients.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5