Many businesses are planning to get back to normal by August 2021. Many are hoping to be back in the office even before that, with convenient, easy-to-use solutions already in place. Before you make the transition, however, you want your office to be ready to go, with all the right tools in place.
One critical addition? An IoT solution that will allow for a variety of tracing, navigation, and more.
It can take as much as six months to manage an effective rollout. With many employees out of the business, working from home, it could take longer to effectively test your solution and make sure that it works according to plan. By investing in an IoT solution now, you can ensure that your business is ready to go when the day arrives. Forethought and planning will help set your business apart from the competition and ensure that you're ready for whatever comes your way.
Many businesses are currently operating under strict limits concerning the number of people who can be in the facility at once. You need to maintain business operations as normally as possible while still maintaining appropriate social distancing measures and decreasing the number of people who may face exposure to one another at any given time. In addition, occupancy tracking can offer a number of long-term benefits for your business that you may want to have in place by the time you return to normal operations.
Things to consider include:
When you can easily track occupancy throughout the building, you know which areas get used on a regular basis and what times they see the highest levels of activity. As a result, you can reduce your heating and cooling in areas of the building that aren't currently in use or turn down lighting in areas that don't have anyone in them. IoT solutions can also allow you to selectively turn on those areas if someone needs to enter them during an odd time.
In addition to allowing you to reduce your overall energy costs, occupancy tracking can make it easier to keep track of where people travel throughout the building. What areas do people access on a regular basis? Do you have restricted areas properly secured, or can people access them more easily than you think? Through your IoT solutions, you can more easily track the movements of people throughout the building and even see what people have accessed specific areas, which could prove vital if you have an unexpected security threat.
A fire breaks out in your building. Where are your employees? What about visitors to the property? If you do experience a security threat, can you tell where people are and where you need to respond? If there's a medical emergency, can you quickly get people where they need to be? Occupancy tracking can improve your ability to track those movements and see where your employees are.
How much of your building do you actually use on a regular basis? Are you outgrowing your current space, or do you just need to make some adjustments to meeting rooms and common areas? Occupancy tracking can give you a better idea of how much of your existing space you're really using, which can allow you to repurpose it as needed.
Instead of having a single desk or workspace for each employee, hot desking allows employees to take advantage of whatever space is currently available. In the transition back to the office after COVID-19, this trend could increase in popularity. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, around 80% of workers indicated that they wanted to be able to work from home at least part-time. An estimated 60% noted in June that they would like to continue working from home when the crisis comes to an end.
An increased number of businesses are transitioning their employees to at least part-time remote work. Across industries, many management teams have learned that remote work is more feasible than before. Everyone from corporate real estate offices to healthcare has discovered that more of their employees can complete their duties from home than they initially thought. While not every job is compatible with a work-from-home option, an increased number of businesses are interested in allowing their employees to work from home at least part of the time.
These work-from-home options mean that many employees will only be in the office a couple of days a week, if that. They don't need a dedicated office or desk space, since they won't be in often. What they do need is the ability to connect to their virtual workspace from any station in the office: to quickly and effectively transition their materials.
Sensors installed under each desk can detect the presence of a particular individual based on their devices. While employees may still have to log in, you can more easily track the presence of each employee and ensure that they have the right settings in place.
When you're using the hot desking method in your office, you may find it more difficult to track utilization. Are your desks seeing reasonable utilization over the course of the week, or could you downsize and still see the same overall level of productivity? By tracking utilization, you can also get a better idea of when you need to expand your available desks and other options within the office, since you'll be able to see how many of them are really getting used over the course of the day.
As you track utilization, you may also note that some desks see considerably more use than others. They may have additional features and technology, more privacy, or simply a more desirable location. Tracking these metrics can give you a better idea of what your employees are really looking for in their workstations, which can allow you to better customize what you can offer across the office.
Are there employees who need to be in the office more than others? Employees who are simply more productive in an office environment? Through your IoT solutions, you can better track the employees who actually use those desks on a regular basis. This can make it easier to make critical decisions about, for example, who might actually need more office space versus who simply wants the benefits of their own office.
Many office buildings and warehouses can prove incredibly difficult to navigate if you don't know your way. Where is that specific closet, filled with important items, really located? Where is that particular set of inventory actually stored?
Visitors and employees alike can benefit strongly from indoor navigation and wayfinding abilities. Whether they're making their way quietly through a carpeted office, trying to avoid distracting other workers, or working their way through a crowded warehouse, IoT solutions can make navigation tasks much easier.
Make it easy for employees to find exactly what they're looking for. You can utilize an online catalog or tag specific items, including large equipment, to make them easier to locate. Being able to easily track your inventory can make it much easier to keep up with daily business tasks and help streamline employee productivity.
In a large facility, visitors may struggle to navigate effectively, especially the first time they visit. Navigation and wayfinding solutions, on the other hand, can help them take the easiest path to their destination. It doesn't matter if they're looking for a specific office among many or trying to navigate through a maze of hallways. IoT solutions will allow each individual to see exactly where they are, where they need to go, and how to get there. It can also make it easier for visitors to navigate security checkpoints.
In a post-COVID-19 society, contact tracing has become increasingly important. You need to know where people have been when they are in the office. Who did they talk to? Which part of the office they occupied?
Through IoT solutions, you can easily track who was in the office, how long they were in the office, and who they were in contact with--and for how long. This can allow you to warn other employees about potential disease exposure and even provide them with an assessment of how much risk they might face: for example, an employee who spoke to an infected individual for only a few seconds while passing in the hallway might have a much lower exposure risk than one who sat down across the break room table from him for thirty minutes over lunch.
Contact tracing solutions can also help you see where an employee has been. COVID-19 might be the big worry right now, but other viruses and germs can also cause outbreaks within the office. Through your IoT contact tracing solutions, you can quickly see what areas of the building an employee has been in and track his movements so that you can focus cleaning solutions on those areas.
Your business has had to make changes and respond quickly to challenges over the course of the past year. As you gear up for your return to more normal operations, is your IoT solution ready? Contact us today to learn more about our IoT solutions and how they can help take your business to the next level in 2021 and beyond.
Technology for locating and tracking employees, visitors, and other occupants of any sizable facility is now recognized as a powerful innovation for increasing safety, responding to emergencies, enabling more effective communication, and enhancing overall productivity.
Few if any types of facilities have greater potential to benefit from Bluetooth tags and monitoring systems than the spectrum of healthcare facilities: community/teaching hospitals, federal government hospitals, psychiatric institutions, long-term care facilities, and many others. A white paper from the Centre for Health Solutions of the international consulting firm Deloitte discussed how Bluetooth badges and related technology are transforming health care and social care.
The safe and efficient operation of these facilities depends perhaps more than anything else on communication and collaboration of all staff at all levels—communication that is fast and reliable in emergencies—and the staff monitoring of patients.
Bluetooth beacon healthcare tracking solution is cloud-based software for tracking staff members, patients, and assets in real-time. It is easy to use and helps healthcare administrators and managers to improve in-patient safety, serviceability, and hospital maintenance. Using the software along with the beacon badges and gateway devices allows accurate tracking, attendance and security monitoring, and safe operation of healthcare facilities. The system can be accessed from a desktop or mobile devices by authorized persons, making its benefits available from any point in the facility by appropriate staff.
BLE Card Tags for staff tracking and hardware are constantly refined to meet precisely the challenges that face any size healthcare facility:
With continuous staff tracking/location on gateway monitoring, tasks as simple as tracking attendance (no lining up to "check-in") and as diverse as finding and summoning physician, nursing, and other staff to a patient room, the emergency room, or any surgical/laboratory/technology suite are easier than ever. They no longer require a search, paging, or phone calls. With wristbands or cards, the system automatically registers every time a tag holder enters or exits the facility or a specific area of it. Any authorized staff member can locate and reach other staff at gateway locations. This increases efficiency and visibility throughout any facility. For example, there is no need to guess about when a staff member heading for the surgical suite or ER will arrive.
With BLE technology, emergencies can be handled more rapidly and efficiently. All required personnel can be located and summoned virtually simultaneously, reducing critical lag times. The reliability and speed of the system reduce the need for gathering and waiting at the ER and other locations. The same efficient response is available for getting any required staff for an emergency in any patient room. Of course, in the case of a rare but unfortunately possible facility emergency such as fire or police action, the system instantly and reliably proves its invaluable functionality.
BLE tag technology reduces the time and increases the efficiency of staff in monitoring the real-time movement and location of all patients anywhere in the facility. With patients in hospital care who take recommended exercise within the purview of a nursing station, the task might be limited to locating them for a scheduled treatment. But at residential facilities, including those for seniors and for psychiatric patients, the wider daylong movement of patients must take account of both unanticipated behavior and unexpected risks. Tags for patients not only makes their location constantly visible on gateway screens; their tags can be equipped with signals to alert them. These signals can be generated by staff or for certain defined situations be made automatically. Patient falls, wandering beyond limits, entering patient rooms or other rooms, conflicts between patients—these are just a few examples of emergencies immediately signaled by beacon badge technology.
Beacon wayfinding technology also can help visitors to your facility in a multitude of ways. Finding rooms, physician offices, other facilities, and other destinations can be assisted by temporary tags that also increase safety by monitoring visitor locations at all times. The technology also applies to contract workers, deliveries, and special services. With real-time location information, the experience of the patient and the patient's family can be improved with turn-by-turn navigation.
Responsibility for healthcare facility staff for routine but necessary tasks such as compliance with regulations for daily inventorying medicines, compliance with other requirements such as temperature control in facilities, and need to check doors of off-limits facilities can be automated by use of Bluetooth technology. So can staff night-time checks to verify patients are in their rooms, that restrooms are clear, and emergency equipment is back in place.
Studies show that a significant loss or misplacement of expensive equipment, instruments, and other hospital assets has forced some hospitals to keep larger inventories of owned or rented equipment to make them available when needed. At the same time, staff time is often spent searching for equipment or instruments of this kind. BLE technology can tag all such assets, including, for example, wheelchairs or infusion pumps, so they can be located immediately from any gateway station. The larger the facility, the larger this problem may be.
Studies regularly report that hospital personnel, including nurses, are at risk of being attacked on the premises of the facility and report a level of fear in certain circumstances and places. Beacon badge technology not only monitors the movement and location of all staff but includes on each badge emergency signaling buttons that staff can use to summon help to their known locations. In large facilities, there are certain areas and certain times of the day that are reported by staff to raise concerns. Card Tags emergency signaling can reduce these fears and increase safety.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for hospitals to deal with more—and more frequently contagious—patients, safety routines as simple but essential as hand washing for all staff took on greater urgency. Limiting certain kinds of contact also became an issue as unnecessary meetings and meetings of certain sizes were limited. BLE technology was able to be adapted and refined to make monitoring more efficient. Limited-access facilities for which authorization is required can be accessed without a key and the entry and exit of staff members is tracked in real-time and a record is made. This is only one of the physical access control systems made possible—and controlled from a single system location—by the technology.
Apart from those specific issues, of course, tracking patients and staff from the point of view of exposure to infection and spreading contagion have become essential functions. BLE technology has been adapted to tracking functionalities in medical facilities of all types and sizes. Not only is real-time tracking possible, but the data automatically collected and analyzed by Beacon badge technology is available for tracing earlier contacts of specific individuals—and trails of contacts—when an infected individual is identified.
For the most part, hospitals and other health care facilities such as nursing homes cannot allow their employees to work remotely. With employees still regularly reporting for work and interacting with other staff and patients, contract tracing is obviously crucial for hospitals to reduce uncertainty among staff and reassure patients. This applies especially to a hospital or nursing home's elderly patients or patients with comorbidities that make them highly vulnerable to COVID-19. The contract tracing-using Beacon cards can help prevent employees and visitors from entering a high-potential risk area and thus increase confidence in working in and visiting your facility.
The COVID-19 health crisis has created an unprecedented amount of insecurity and fear among many individuals. People are more aware than ever of the potential to spread germs and get sick when they come into contact with others. High-risk individuals, including both the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, have been forced to increase the measures they take to protect themselves. This can make the difference in some cases between choosing one facility over another. In our recent blog post, we described how the Bluetooth badges system can be applied by health care facilities for a range of contact tracing solutions and for real-time monitoring to ensure safety in the facility.
Bluetooth Low Energy reliable beacons and tags are part of a wireless personal area network technology designed and developed for novel applications in healthcare and other industries. For these and many other problems and challenges, Kontakt.io's portfolio of complete IoT and location solutions, designed with beacons and software and on a cloud platform, provides systems that are affordable and easy to install and setup. Bluetooth 5-compatible devices provide four times the battery performance of comparable Wi-Fi and RFID tags. Our Card Tag can last up to three years and has a 40-meter range. The reliable hardware from Kontakt.io is used by more than 20,000 customers in half-a-dozen major industries to deliver enterprise-grade security and outstanding battery performance. Everything is easy to deploy, with beacons and tags that have pre-configured profiles (iBeacon, Eddystone, or both), identifiers, and settings.
To learn more about these innovative, novel products for health care, get in touch with our team today. We can discuss your individual requirements and use cases and work out proposals for a viable solution to your operating challenges. The first step is starting the conversation. You can set up a demonstration of our products and capabilities of the system at any time.
And be sure to check back here regularly for information, insights, and updates on all aspects of tracking solution technology and how healthcare facilities are using it today. To follow news from Kontakt, sign up to our newsletter.
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Clinical engineers are problem solvers. Whether they are in hospitals, private practices, or industry settings, they work with complex human and technological systems. These hard-working individuals tend to wear a lot of hats, including technology managers for medical equipment systems.
Hospital-based clinical engineers are responsible for making sure medical devices are effective, safe, and accounted for. They handle service contract management, the data processing systems necessary for the management of medical equipment, and coordinate not only service agreements but internal operations too. On top of all that, they're responsible for ensuring complete compliance with all laws and regulations governing medical devices with the Joint Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and more.
Maintaining medical devices relates to all activities needed to keep them operating at an adequate level and minimizing any downtime in their use. The responsibility involves both corrective and preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance (PM) for medical devices are handled as scheduled events. The devices need to be evaluated for the frequency of relative maintenance and the impact on patient care if the device fails.
There are also required inspections to coordinate. Every piece of equipment entering a hospital or other medical facility requires an inspection before it can be used. They must ensure each device operates safely and performs as promised.
If this sounds like a tall order, it is. For a hospital or medical facility to offer quality patient care, the equipment used must be regularly monitored, serviced, and if necessary, repaired or replaced while maintaining complete compliance.
To be able to coordinate a successful medical device maintenance program, clinical engineers use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) as a tool in documenting regulatory compliance. These systems are constantly improving and a great help in keeping up with the latest laws and regulations governing compliance. But there's another problem to solve: knowing where every single device is at any given time.
Tracking assets is a vital part of medical device maintenance. By knowing exactly where equipment is when you need it, you save time, better manage your staff, and, most importantly, place the focus on patient care where it belongs.
In a hospital with a high volume of medical devices, a thorough inventory with no visibility can take as long as eight to ten weeks each year without a guaranteed 100% search rate. Up to four to seven hours can be spent each day and as many as 1,200 to 2,000 hours can be lost annually for just one preventive maintenance event.
Frequently used devices like portable ultrasound devices, infusion pumps, and even wheelchairs can move several times in a single day throughout a facility. Time spent looking for these devices is time that could be spent providing the best possible care to the patient who needs them.
One solution would be to invest in additional pieces of equipment but that just increases the workload and hurts your bottom line. If you can't track wheelchairs, you may not realize you don't need to order more. There may be a surplus in one area of the facility and a constant shortage in another.
With proper asset tracking, there’s a quick and easy fix. Without it, you may end up ordering more and overstocking. And wheelchairs are just one example of medical devices that could be underestimated and stocked improperly.
Another solution is one that can be used to easily locate and track medical devices in real-time using established wireless access points combined with Bluetooth-enabled tags and a convenient app on a mobile device or phone.
To help with asset tracking, many innovative new methods have come along including Barcode, IoT, NFC, QR code, RFID, and Bluetooth Low Technology (BLE). While each of these methods has grown and adapted with use, the best solutions for asset tracking are the ones that provide real-time information.
Kontakt.io uses tracking tags with BLE devices inside them to pinpoint locations relative to access points placed strategically through a hospital or medical facility. The location is sent to the CMMS used and anyone authorized to access that software. Unlike RFID tags that have to be scanned by a human or checkpoint scanner, BLE tracking tags provide continuous updates on items the software it's integrated with.
A periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) level is an inventory of all items and devices you have on hand at any given time. Along with this, it's important to understand how many units you need of any particular medical device in your department. Many use their best estimate of how many items they need daily. BLE trackers feed information into the software used to provide you with exact numbers on the minimum and maximum levels you need of any device in a given department based on average daily usage.
This also helps immensely when it comes to managing inventory. Using the data from BLE trackers, you can set PAR levels to lower and upper ranges of usage during a normal working day. This will give you a highly accurate account of how many devices you need.
Clinical engineers can use Kontakt.io solutions to review available device locations, including those closest to the seeker if badges are also distributed to staff. PAR levels can be monitored and recommendations made based on current conditions in the hospital or facility.
If any inventory item is above the maximum needed for an area, the staff knows which department they can grab an infusion pump from to replenish their own inventory. The retrieval is noted within the system for efficiency. If another department has less than what they need for wheelchairs, they are notified so they can replenish their stock before needs become urgent.
Not only can BLE trackers send information on minimum and maximum PAR levels, they can also let you know if any item has been removed from an authorized area. If someone leaves a facility with a wheelchair, you'll be notified immediately. This will help cut down on shrinkage due to theft. That improves your budget and keeps you from being short a vital item until a replacement can be ordered.
Hospital buildings have significant foot traffic at entrances and exits with multiple team members and vendors transporting various materials needed for patient care; and processing laundry and trash. Such high-volume activities result in involuntary negligence leading to unintentional loss of expensive medical devices and wheelchairs.
The problem is greater with small medical devices that tend to get wrapped up without notice in soiled linens or in trash bags that leave the hospital; and are never recovered again. A conservative estimate of 2% loss of devices in a typical 300 bed hospital results in an annual impact of about $200,000. This does not account for indirect losses related to absence of a medical device at the point of care when needed. Delayed treatment results in dissatisfied patients and lower reimbursements. Not knowing exactly if the device is in the building or lost may also cause accounting implications and unnecessary maintenance support costs adding strain to the clinical engineering department.
BLE trackers are available in extremely small form factors and can be attached on small devices that tend to get lost often. Beacons strategically placed in rooms capture restricted movement before it is too late. Notifications can be provided in the form of local audiovisual alarms as well as via mobile devices to alert well intentioned staff to recover items on time. BLE trackers are also read via mobile devices to isolate trash and laundry bags where the device may be hidden for rapid and safe recovery.
Every 36 months, surveyors from the Joint Commission visit accredited health care facilities to ensure compliance. These unannounced visits are called surveys. The Joint Commission sends health care professionals, experts in their fields, to conduct the survey.
The surveyors randomly select patients and review their medical records to make sure any and all applicable compliance standards were met. Not only will they talk to any doctors or nurses who provided care, they'll speak with the patients too.
In order for proper care to be given as soon as possible, equipment for diagnostic tests and other needs must be ready and available. Any inability to locate a medical device can cause a delay in providing patient care and potentially have a negative impact on facility compliance. The result can be fines or even loss of accreditation.
Using BLE technology from Kontakt.io, medical device maintenance and management is greatly improved for the clinical engineers responsible for them. Asset tracking helps clinical engineering staff to optimize their responsibilities and operate more efficiently. They spend less time tracking down devices, managing inventory, and monitoring PAR levels. They can devote their time to providing excellent patient care.
Productivity is increased and that leaves more time for clinical engineers to solve other problems, like cybersecurity threats, repairs, and required service swiftly. Kontakt.io solutions provide the information clinical engineers need to meet any and all applicable compliance laws and regulations.
Using BLE technology is highly accurate and less expensive than either WiFi, passive or UWB tag solutions. Kontakt.io provides comprehensive Asset Tracking and Management applications that not only enable clinical engineers to rapidly search devices but complement CMMS in providing data analytics driving financial decisions related equipment purchase, maintenance contract negotiations, rentals and balancing useful life of assets with depreciation. Application can also be used to track staff, patients, and more for a more efficient, safer environment.
Asset tracking solutions using BLE technology are gaining in popularity. Bluetooth offers a quality alternative to active RFID tags. Advantages BLE offers over RFID open source, interoperability, scalability and lower total cost of ownership. BLE data backhaul is over existing WiFi access points eliminating the need for an alternative network, a significant cost burden for traditional active RFID. Location detection is driven by plug-and-play beacons that are one-tenth the cost of traditional active RFID location detectors. Since BLE radio is designed to consume low power, batteries can be off-the-shelf and last longer than active RFID. BLE is also extremely effective compared to passive tag solutions which require a large number of POE connected readers throughout the hospital to provide real-time location updates and have a significant installation burden that requires skilled labor.
The open source nature of BLE streaming protocol allows various applications to consume the data stream for solving specific problems giving the customer an option to choose a solution that fits their needs effectively.
Kontakt.io BLE tracking tags can easily be implemented and used by clinical engineering staff to help them manage the maintenance, location, and inventory of vital medical devices needed for daily patient care. They provide the information you need to know where each device is and ensure it's maintained and serviced on a regular basis to provide safe and effective patient use. The information can also be used to ensure compliance with all governing laws and regulations.
Contact us today to learn what we can do to improve your hospital or medical care facility with affordable, effective location services. Asset tracking can be handled by our solutions so you can have peace of mind knowing that your inventory of medical devices is well-managed. You can spend less time trying to find what you need and more time providing excellent patient care.
The COVID 19 pandemic turned the world upside down, affecting the global economy and many diverse businesses. Many of them have turned to remote work, others had to shut down and hope that they would be able to stay afloat as a company. Alternating between exposing people to the risk of COVID-19 or the effects of the economic collapse, the decision to start reopening businesses was made. However, with this agreement came new safety standards and guidelines for managers that have disrupted the way they think about workplace safety and employee well-being.
Tracking employee interactions, ensuring social distancing, monitoring symptoms and sanitizing facilities are some of the strategies that can prevent the spread of the virus in workplaces. For very small companies maintaining these health standards manually may be sufficient, but when it comes to bigger corporate buildings it is impossible and can be a never-ending task with unsatisfactory results.
Therefore, many businesses have started to implement location-based solutions that gather necessary data to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread among workers and ensure safe reopenings.
Having real-time insights into the movements of employees and their interactions is key when it comes to identifying infection chains early on and preventing venues from shutting down. But real-time location systems are not a brand new technology. Before the COVID 19 pandemic, real-time employee tracking was commonly used for job clocking automation, building evacuation or employee distress & workplace injury. And as new challenges come to the forefront, location-based technologies have filled the gap and provided us with new solutions that can prevent businesses from the COVID-19 outbreaks and make employees more confident about returning to work.
Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) or indoor positioning systems, as the name suggests, are used for identifying and tracking the location of people or assets. This may seem similar to GPS systems, but RTLS is updated to more modern tech standards and capabilities and used mainly in indoor environments.
The increased visibility into people and object movements provided by real-time location systems is key when it comes to improving efficiency and safety. Managers enabled with actionable insights can more easily identify where exactly inefficiencies are and make data-driven decisions to remove them. RTLS can also improve worker safety when used for evacuation monitoring or the location of personnel in case of an emergency. Want to learn more about how RTLS transform major verticals? Download the guide now>
The health sector and corresponding stakeholders in the government and economic sectors have given the green light to reopen various sectors of the economy that cannot survive in a remote working model for an extended period. To enhance employee and customer safety, social distancing and contact tracing are paramount.
Social distancing refers to maintaining sufficient distance between individuals to reduce the risk of viral transmissions. As a rule of the thumb, the minimum distance is six feet, which should be maintained in any social set up at any given time. Social distancing also extends to the practice of staying at home to reduce the number of contacts as a way of protecting people whose working from home strategies are no longer feasible.
Contact tracing refers to the process of identifying, assessing, and isolating people who have been in close contact with an infected person. Contact tracing is an extremely labor-intensive process that involves getting in touch with a list of contact persons to assess the extent of the exposure. Due to the level of stigmatization for COVID-19 positive patients, contact-tracing information needs to be stored securely to ensure all contact persons receive immediate attention to curb the further spread of the virus.
Shutting down and sanitizing an entire building can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. And as major sanitization responses have already affected revenue and processes of many diverse companies, real-time location systems can help by identifying where the infected person spent time so there’s no need to shutdown and sanitize the entire building.
WHO states that COVID19 droplets can land on surfaces and stay there for up to 72 hours. And as door handles or pin pads are a hotspot for bacterias, no-touch access can be a great way to decrease the spread of the virus. Real-time location systems can simply recognize the badge your employee is wearing and open the door each time someone walks through an access point. Instead of the Bluetooth LE badge, there is a possibility to use smartphone-based contactless access as well.
According to QIMA Survey, 9 in 10 businesses report being affected by the Covid-19 epidemic and only 4% of businesses consider themselves prepared for an event like the Covid-19 outbreak. It shows that now, more than ever, we need to take advantage of technologies to ensure workplace safety and employee well-being.
Distinct from social distancing, a behavioral impediment, contact tracing is key to preventing mass infection in the workplace and is now a measure available for employers to increase employee safety and reduce the adverse effects of the pandemic on business continuity. With a second wave looming and no clear end in sight along with mounting pressure for reopening America, we are seeing more businesses introducing various mobile-based and device-based contact tracing solutions, in which Bluetooth™ technologies are playing a key role.
The World Health Organization has identified contact tracing as the biggest challenge in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Contact tracing entails identifying and contacting all the persons an infected patient interacted with within 14 days prior to testing positive. Doing this manually is the biggest challenge for health professionals, making it nearly impossible to control the virus. With technology devices and location tracking technologies, app-based contact tracing applications through Bluetooth low energy radio signals have been developed, making it easier for users to get real-time notifications in the event of contact with an infected person.
Despite the increased attention that BLE beacons have received from the tech world, beacons are yet to go mainstream since businesses have major concerns regarding their security. While data breaches around credit cards have tormented businesses for years, data security concerns surrounding beacons are still new. In addressing the security misconceptions about beacons, it is important to realize that beacons from reliable sources such as Kontakt.io are secure but require a security mechanism appropriate for the concerned assets. With the increased data privacy laws, beacons do not collect data from consumers without their consent. Adopting beacons within your organization does not breach privacy laws since users control their privacy by granting or rejecting permission to apps.
Technology cannot prevent the onset of a pandemic but it can offer risk mitigation strategies to curb the spread of the pandemic. At Kontakt.io, we recognize the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, providing real-time location solutions through BLE beacons. By adopting beacons within your business enterprise, it will be easy to reopen while keeping the spread of the virus at bay. If you want to learn more about how location-based services can solve current challenges and help you reopen your workplace safely while unlocking new business opportunities, make sure to join our webinar or contact us.
Healthcare services are a critical component of every society. When a patient appears at a specific hospital, they expect that they will receive the necessary attention as soon as possible. In case of admission, the safety of patients around the clock becomes an essential factor of consideration for hospital staff.
That will include all factors that affect patient care, including infection control, wandering patients, a poorly maintained infusion pump, suboptimal patient flow within and between departments, an open refrigerator with temperature-sensitive products, the fire alarm going off, falls, among other things.
The implication, in this case, is that real-time location, status, and condition of mobile assets, patients, medical equipment, and staff has a direct impact on patient care. For that reason, lack of visibility can deal a blow to the ability of any hospital to offer patients quality services. Location data can help you address this challenge, which will, in turn, improve patient care going forward.
Here are some of the ways location services are proving to be instrumental when it comes to patient care in hospitals.
Running a hospital is quite costly. Part of the reason for this is that each hospital bed has expensive equipment. Tracking such provisions can be a challenge because hospitals experience a surge in the number of visitors, patients, and staff on various occasions every day. If a medic cannot trace the equipment they need within the shortest time possible; patients may suffer in one way or another.
Additionally, hospital staff work in different areas within a particular facility, and their goals are different at any one time. That increases the probability of misplacing expensive assets or leaving them unattended. Eventually, the purchase of new equipment becomes a necessity, which implies that a particular hospital may end up with more assets than is necessary for operational needs.
Location services and distribution of mobile medical equipment allow hospital staff to trace wrready-to-use medical devices with ease. Identifying tools that require cleaning and redistribution ceases to be a challenge in this case as well.
As such, team efficiency will increase, the time staff spend looking for equipment will be reduced, workflow management will be enhanced, simplifying tasks and automating work assignments will also be a possibility, which will ultimately improve patient care in hospitals.
On the other hand, an automated solution provides hospital supervisors and administrators with transparent, real-time visibility into the location and status of all mobile medical equipment, their last point of use, as well as the person responsible for collecting, cleaning, and distributing the same. That implies that increased visibility in hospitals yields greater responsibility, and it reduces the risk of misplacing devices or leaving them unattended.
Hospitals cannot afford to take chances when it comes to the safety of patients. That explains the reason why patient tracking in such facilities is paramount. The conventional wristband that all patients in a hospital should have is now smarter thanks to Bluetooth technology. Hospital staff can't ensure that patients are where they ought to be without real-time tracking.
Wristbands with Bluetooth technology allows medics to trace patients who get out of bed and move away. That ensures that hospital staff are available to help patients before they fall, hurt themselves, or even leave the facility.
Also, knowing the location and status of critical clinical equipment, beds, clinical staff, and patients is a necessity in the clinics, OR, ED, and other departments. The reason is that location tracking in hospitals improves departmental workflow and patient care. Medics can also use location and status details to reduce patient wait times and ensure that procedures begin on time.
Gaining real-time visibility of the availability of rooms and beds in hospitals as well as patients within and between departments is also possible through visibility boards. In turn, you can integrate the location and status data into existing hospital software systems to increase throughput and optimize workflows.
Wandering through restricted and dangerous areas can pose various risks to patients who do not have critical illnesses, but is preventable through location data. Sometimes, family members can move a patient even without the authorization of a doctor. In such situations, real-time tracking can help hospital staff trace the location of such patients.
Location-oriented smart wristbands can also save time when tracking and screening patients who are in beds in the corridors in the event of a mass accident.
Regular maintenance of the equipment that patients use in hospitals is vital in ensuring that it is in a state l to offer quality care. Maintenance correction, equipment recall, and preventive maintenance become part of the preoccupations of clinical engineers.
The task of locating equipment manually throughout a hospital's campuses is quite taxing. Collecting the necessary pieces for fixing specific equipment may be impossible as well if they are in use, or a medic is planning to use them at a particular time. It is also worth noting that regulatory agencies that audit hospital equipment maintenance on various occasions regulate preventive maintenance.
The problem is that achieving the preventive maintenance goal for regulatory compliance is not possible if clinical engineers do not have a reliable solution for tracking medical devices requiring their attention. Repairs or recalls of medical devices, on the other hand, demand the immediate removal of service equipment. Failure to do so can compromise the safety of patients, and that can have liability implications as well.
Location services automate the manual processes of locating equipment requiring maintenance in hospitals, which is an added advantage for clinical engineers.
One of the biggest problems for most hospitals is the ability to control infectious diseases. The fact that visitors are in and out of hospitals daily is part of the reasons for the increase in the spread of contagious diseases. Visitor tracking can help visitors identify a route through the hospital that minimizes contact with patients.
Regulating the movement of those who do not need to leave patient rooms is also possible through visitor tracking. Medics can also use this solution to minimize unnecessary contact with patients, which will delay the spread of infections that such professionals acquire in hospitals. Sanitizing medical equipment before reuse and tracking medical waste leaving hospitals is paramount too.
That implies that tracking medical assets is not an option because, beyond reducing patient waiting time, it minimizes the risk of other infections among those seeking medical attention in hospitals. Additionally, location services allow medics to identify patients with highly contagious diseases so they can take the necessary precautions when attending to them.
That means that location tracking of patients, doctors, and other hospital staff can play a significant role in tracking and containing infectious diseases.
It is unfortunate that some patients in hospitals succumb to illnesses because of failure to access necessary attention at the right time. That mostly happens when medics are away from such patients for various reasons. The monitoring of patients around the clock should indeed be part of the prerequisites of any hospital.
However, that may prove impossible, depending on the situation on the ground. Location services can enhance the tracing of the nearest doctor when a patient is in danger. Hospitals exist to save lives, and that is not possible when there is an emergency on one end, and a medic is on the other side of the building. Tracking the location of hospital staff is a necessity in such situations.
Also, Bluetooth wristbands or badges prove instrumental when hospitals need to account for all patients, visitors, and staff in case of an evacuation. Hospital evacuations are quite rare, and when they happen, doing a room-to-room inspection to ensure everyone is out of danger is impossible.
Location services enhance the tracing of persons in hospitals during an evacuation, including those with reduced mobility. As a result, rescue services will know where to find individuals who need help as well as the equipment they need to access a particular location at such a time. That will, in turn, improve patient care in one way or another.
It is not unusual to find long queues in hospitals, which is a sign of patient flow challenges. There are various reasons why this may happen, including lengthy paperwork procedures for patients awaiting discharge, difficulties in transfers between departments, and overcrowding in the emergency room. Identifying bottlenecks and designing systemic controls to avoid discharge delays and patients sitting for hours in hospital corridors is possible through the use of real-time data to monitor patient movements.
For instance, you can track the time a doctor enters the emergency room to gain insight into techniques for improving procedures in hospitals. Location data can facilitate patient transfers, alert doctors or nurses about patients who need special attention, and expedite some admissions through automatic check-in as well.
One of the advantages of using smart wristbands, badges, and tags in hospitals is that you do not need to change them or transfer physical charts. The reason is that these solutions ensure that the data available is unique to each patient and that it is accessible through the cloud. Minimizing cases of patients escaping through improper passage is also possible through location services.
Location data can notify cleaning services about the discharge of a particular patient as well, so they can prepare the newly available bed and room for reuse. As a result, this can reduce cases of bed shortages in hospitals. Also, the conventional approach involving sending someone to find a bed will not be necessary when you deploy hospital location services.
The reason is that medics can access details about available beds instantly using location services in addition to receiving alerts when the hospital is close to capacity. That way, hospital staff can plan patient transfers in good time.
Real-time location systems are having a positive impact on healthcare. Data-driven interactions in hospitals enhance efficiency and improve service delivery as well.
Real-time location data tracking promotes the safety of all individuals in hospitals by reducing exposure to infections, optimizing patient flow, and protecting workers from inevitable risks while at work. Contact us for more information.
For indoor wayfinding and similar purposes, the installation process can be complicated, but mostly requires a beacon-based structure that can interface with user devices to provide a seamless and safe experience.
In our last post, we talked about gateway and access point-based infrastructure, which is one of the two overall categories most installations fall under. The second category is beacon-based infrastructure. Each of these categories is aimed at different solutions and contexts, and requires a different approach to installation and use. You will need to choose the best infrastructure for your solution and project.
The essential difference is that in a gateway-based project, each asset is affixed with a beacon or tag, which then connects to a gateway that can be accessed using an application or specific hardware. Gateway based projects are used primarily for asset and employee tracking.
Beacon-based infrastructure, however, uses mobile phones to provide users with wayfinding information and location-specific contact that can be used for providing enhanced customer experience. Phones connect only to the beacon, keeping them separate from your local network and protecting the privacy of users. This makes the infrastructure ideal for public-based wayfinding applications.
Beacon-based infrastructure relies on the fact that all modern mobile phones have Bluetooth and are designed to work with location services. Thus, the user's phone becomes the hardware needed to access the system. The user is required to download an indoor wayfinding app, which should be made available through the Apple Store and Google Play.
The app then uses the phone's built-in Bluetooth to triangulate to beacons set up throughout your property. This provides the user with location-based content and indoor navigation and wayfinding. Standard phone location services will not work indoors and often lack the granularity needed to, for example, determine which exact gallery in an art museum the user is in. The app will thus include the indoor map, wayfinding ability, and a way to access location-based content. Visitor Wi-fi can be used to assist users in accessing content.
The phone can either upload its location to the cloud or keep it private. You can also program specific beacon units to trigger features on the phones. For example, you can have the phone notify users of a hotel amenity as they approach it. As the phones do all the calculations for wayfinding and route optimization (based off of past users), the beacons need little power, extending their lives.
The system consists of smart beacons placed in various locations through the building, generally on walls, an app that is downloaded onto the user's phone, and location services and content pushed from the cloud. Data from phones should only be collected if the use case requires it, such as for visitor tracking in a hospital.
The initial design is thus based on the use case and the floor plan. The design for a museum, where the app is used to provide extra information or accessibility features such as audio signage may be quite different from an app used to help visitors navigate a large hospital and find their way to the patient or provider they are visiting.
The design process needs to include:
Throughout the entire installation process, the specific use case needs to be kept in mind and best practices should be followed for deploying beacons.
Beacon placement needs to follow a plan and should never be randomly done. Getting full coverage requires knowing your needs and floor plan. You also need to choose the right beacon for your case and beacons should be configured off-site to save time. You should also:
The floor plan should be made available to anyone working on beacon placement, as installers may detect problems that you initially missed. In addition, you should use the right mounting type for various beacons. For example, if beacons may need to be moved, then you can use velcro or double-sided tape to secure them. Other mounting types include plastic or metal zip ties and screws for permanent attachment. Wearable beacons might be used if you have employees that users may need to find, such as a concierge or on-duty doctor.
Deployment types include:
For many projects, a mixed deployment type is the best, but some sites may find that only point-based is sufficient.
To deliver the right infrastructure for yourself or a client, you need to follow certain best practices. For clients, start off with a business and technical workshop to go over their plans and establish what the use case actually is. Sometimes they may not know their own needs in detail without going over them with you. You should do your own site survey rather than relying on the client.
For projects that use wayfinding or content delivery, integration with existing Wi-Fi is key, and there needs to be Wi-Fi available to users. For most businesses, this means setting up a separate public-facing network to ensure security. In most buildings, cell phone coverage can be shaky and Wi-Fi is needed to download maps and content. Make sure that Wi-Fi signals are available throughout the site both for users and for the beacons themselves. Additional routers may be needed to properly support this.
Both the cellphone app to be provided to visitors and any software needed by employees need to be properly configured and tested. The visitor app should be tested across multiple devices including older or budget phones; accessibility questions can arise if not all devices can run the app. Employees need to be trained in the use of the app so they can assist visitors, and good documentation should be provided. (For accessibility reasons, the app should not be the only source of a floor plan in public-facing buildings). Handoff should only occur after all of the testing has been done to make sure the deployment meets the client's needs and the app functions as intended.
Coverage should be tested by doing walkthroughs. Visitors should not have to raise their phone or move to get a good signal. For point-based deployment, make sure beacons are not so close together that the signals overlap, resulting in incorrect content being served.
Properly installing a beacon-based real time location system requires an understanding of both the specific use case and the site. There are no standard installs or shortcuts, although there are app engines that can be used to shorten the process of software development. The system has to be fully tested so that all users have access to it and implemented correctly to ensure full coverage.
Kontakt.io has the expertise needed to help you through the complex process of installing beacon-based systems. We have already done it many times, and we know exactly what systems and services are needed for different use cases. All you need to start is to contact us for a starter kit and to discuss your needs.
There is no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to the infrastructures that support indoor location-based solutions. Every deployment has its own unique requirements, setting and context. Broadly speaking, we can group most installations into two categories, beacon-based and gateway (or access point-based). Their separate categories result from the fundamental differences in their missions. Each is aimed at different types of solutions and demands a different approach.
In this post, we’re going to focus on gateway, or access point-based, infrastructures and the details and processes involved in their deployment. In this kind of project, an application connects to a gateway that defines the location of a moving asset that is affixed with a beacon or tag. Next week, we’ll move to the other side of the divide and examine the infrastructures behind beacon-based solutions for proximity marketing, location-based content, indoor wayfinding and other applications based on interactions between mobile phones and beacons.
How do the two approaches differ?
In a gateway-based project, each asset is affixed with a beacon or tag, which then connects to a gateway that can be accessed using an application or specific hardware. Gateway-based projects are used primarily for asset tracking and other real-time location services (such as an employee or visitor tracking). For example, an employee or visitor might carry a Bluetooth Lanyard Tag that turns any card ID into a smart one, or a button-equipped badge that tracks their location, gets them through security and ensures that if there is an emergency everyone is accounted for. Alternatively, an asset such as a defibrillator can be tracked to ensure it is put back where it belongs.
Beacon-based infrastructure, on the other hand, uses mobile phones to provide users with wayfinding information and to send messages that are appropriate to their specific location. This can be used for marketing, wayfinding, and location-based content (such as content that complements a museum display). Phones connect only to the beacon, which keeps them separate from your local network.
This system is generally used in healthcare, smart buildings, and industrial spaces including warehouses. It is ideal for keeping track of assets and understanding the flow of people. Gateway-based infrastructure is also useful in certain crises, whether it is to support social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic or ensure full evacuation of a building in the event of a fire. Traditional use cases include:
For real-time location services, a gateway or access point-based system is ideal. Beacon-based infrastructure tracks phones, not objects or people (a person can put their phone down and go "off-grid," making badges a better system for employee tracking. GPS-based trackers also do not work indoors or anywhere else where there is no clear access to the sky. The system, thus, is based on Bluetooth Low Energy, which works indoors and uses cheap beacons that can tag assets and personnel. It works as follows:
1. Each asset is tagged with a BLE beacon that transmits a unique ID.
2. Fixed BLE-compliant Access Point infrastructure forms a BLE Gateway. This receives the signal and sends the signal strength, unique ID and timestamp to backend software. Beacon grids can be set to provide different levels of certainty in different areas as needed.
If your Wi-Fi infrastructure is not BLE-compliant yet, check our Portal Light - a next-generation, affordable, plug-and-play BLE gateway that will help you accelerate the adoption of indoor IoT and location use-cases through infrastructure simplification.
3. The software computes the posItion of each asset in real time. This requires sophisticated AI algorithms designed for a specific use case.
4. A location application receives this information and uses it, in conjunction with the floor plan and zone information to create triggers, alerts, and events.
5. Employees are provided with panic buttons on their badge or other beacons that can be used in cases of employee distress or duress. The button press event maps to employee id, location, timestamp and configured notifications or workflows.
Most of the processing takes place in the cloud, reducing the amount of hardware needed by the gateways to function. This is a network-centric approach that is oriented towards protecting assets and people. For a triangulated location, a greater density means greater accuracy but also higher cost; the deployment needs to balance needs and budget. In order to achieve room-level accuracy, we recommend Portal Light, which augments WiFi infrastructure and helps you to reduce operating costs and capital expenses of additional expensive access points. Geometry is important, but a weak signal is okay since BLE can work with very low bandwidth and at a long distance. The level of accuracy needed depends on your use case.
Alternatively, the zone-based location works with multiple access points. Cloud software will calculate which AP is closest to the beacon and show that as the location. That AP or group of APs is the zone. This is then refined by using room-level aggregators. This level of accuracy is generally fine for personnel and visitor tracking, but is less effective for tracking assets, especially in a warehouse or industrial situation where a worker is trying to find a specific item or part quickly.
When designing a gateway-based system, there are a number of considerations you need to take into account:
To start with, take into account the overall characteristics of the BLE signals used for real-time tracking.
You should also consider your use case details. Take into account:
All of these factors affect beacon positioning, software design, and the kind and number of physical tags or beacons that may need to be acquired.
Given the signal characteristics above, it's necessary to do a proper site survey and make plans that include:
All of these factors affect the design of the system and the software you deploy to manage it. Most can be dealt with by following certain best practices, which do not replace those for WiFi design. Instead you should:
Designing the right system involves taking into account all of these factors and positioning gateways/APs appropriately. The most important thing to consider is the balance of needed accuracy with cost-based factors, and the level of accuracy needed depends very much on the assets being tracked.
To deliver the right infrastructure to a client, you should start off with a business and technical workshop to go over the plans and establish what their use case actually is. Sometimes they may not know their own needs in detail without going over them with you first. You should do your own site survey rather than relying on the client.
When setting up the location infrastructure, make sure you integrate properly with existing Wi-Fi and address any coverage gaps before configuring the location server and doing your testing. Wi-Fi is often used to allow access points to talk to each other and the cloud and many sites may need to add additional routers to properly support this.
The application to support the use case also needs to be properly configured and tested. Handoff should not occur until after training and acceptance testing have taken place to make sure that your deployment suits the client's needs. Employees will need to learn how to use the system and applications properly.
Correctly installing a gateway-based real time location system requires an understanding of both the specific use case and the site. There are no shortcuts and no "standard" installs. The grid of access points needs to work with and around the floor plan of the site, the accuracy level needs to reflect the client's needs and budget, and the software has to be implemented correctly.
Kontakt.io has the expertise needed to help you through this complex installation process. All you need to start is to contact us for a demo kit. We will support you through this process and help ensure that you have the right real time location systems for your specific needs and budget.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology has been expanding its footprint in indoor IoT and Location Service applications, especially in healthcare and corporate offices. It has largely replaced legacy wireless standards due to its low cost, open protocol, and scalability. Yet, many Wifi Access Point infrastructure providers are still not yet BLE-compliant, don’t support cloud-to-device communications and or the density of their deployed infrastructure does not allow for room-level accuracy. The introduction of Kontakt.io’s new Portal Light, an affordable, plug-and-play BLE gateway with a Wifi-backhaul allows customers to address these problems and bridge the period before the network is due to be upgraded.
It’s accelerating the adoption of indoor IoT and location use-cases through infrastructure simplification and thus reduces the barriers to entry for a variety of use cases, including COVID-19 contract tracing, building occupancy management or IV-Pump PAR management.
Bringing more than just IoT connectivity
Kontakt.io, on its mission to streamline indoor location services today, is introducing Portal Light, a next-generation BLE gateway that brings much more than just IoT connectivity and location data across BLE spectrums. As part of our commitment to our customers and partners, we aim to close the IoT connection gap while striving to encourage others to innovate by leveraging the infrastructure they already have in place, allowing them to create value within days with Kontakt.io products. The Portal Light brings awareness of the environment at the single room level, enabling software access to a much richer dataset of the indoor workplace environment and helping Kontakt.io partners and customers to deliver more location-accurate solutions.
- Enabling location services: Retrieve location data of moving BLE tags and badges from the Portal Light or use the Portal Light to augment your existing BLE-enabled access point infrastructure for better accuracy.
- Real-time device management and site monitoring: Stay up-to-date and remote monitor your BLE beacon and tag battery and location information in real-time across multiple locations, independent of mobile phones. In addition, allow for OTA firmware updates.
- Simplified deployment: No extra installation equipment needed. Easily deploy your Portal Light by plugging it into a power socket. Get it up and running in minutes.
Portal Light's versatility allows it to adapt to the needs of different industries. The value it brings is clearly highlighted in healthcare, where it powers location services that improve the patient experience while reducing operating costs and capital expenses. Other benefits of Portal Light can be seen in smart buildings and manufacturing operations, where information flows between people, buildings, and things drive a long list of use cases and create new efficiencies. See which solutions can be now empowered with Portal Light:
In addition to Portal Light launch, Kontakt.io is announcing today the extension to its software offering with an updated Kontakt.io Location Services and Device Management subscription offering including:
Providing real-time information about the location of detected devices within the range receivers.
Providing real-time information about the health and sensor data of your devices.
Helping you to reduce time to market and ongoing engineering costs of Bluetooth device management services.
All this and more can now be accessible through Portal Light. Kontakt.io Location Services will enable your solution to become location-aware by consuming presence and best-gateway-based locations, helping you to build and launch faster IoT & location solutions thanks to scalable Webhooks, Kinesis stream, or RESTful API. With Portal Light and Kontakt.io software products, you can now tap into the value of location services easier, in a more affordable way, while bridging the IoT connection gap before your WiFi access points become BLE-compliant. With Kontakt.io you are closer than you think to driving business outcomes from the infrastructure you already have in place. Get your first Portal Light to see for yourself.
Financial institutions, factories, warehouses and workplaces of every kind are still in lockdown or, at a minimum, operating at a fraction of their normal capacity due to safety restrictions put in place. This shutdown is expected to last until there is a vaccine available for the virus. The costs of the lockdown, already enormous, will reach inconceivable levels if it goes much further into the future. As a result the C-level suite needs to implement a variety of safety measures that address these risks and mitigate them accordingly. This includes new policies around building access in general, visitor management, space occupancy, social distancing, health checks and space disinfection. Given the wide spectrum of location-based solutions, financial institutions need to start making their buildings smarter, safer, and more efficient.
Smart buildings are buildings using automated processes to manage inventory and assets, increase productivity, safety and security through location-based services. Only a few years ago, the idea of smart buildings seemed unlikely. Thanks to the IoT and today's constantly developing technologies, any building or structure, whether it's brand new or older, can be converted into a smart building.
Smart buildings operate at much greater efficiency by gathering data and using it to make continual adjustments and improvements. They also utilize technology like contact tracing to bring operational areas of the facility together through the power of IoT to work in harmony.
With everything smart building technology has to offer through contact tracing and more, there are many good reasons why banks and financial institutions should convert their buildings and facilities. Here are 5 specific reasons that banks should use smart buildings.
Through the use of contact tracing, banks and financial institutions can provide greater security for their on-site assets, their staff and customers. Wearable badges are used so the system can prevent unauthorized parties from entering restricted areas or entering the building at all. Not all bank employees need access to the cash vault or to customer safety deposit boxes. Not all bank employees need access to on-site data centers.
Tracing can also be used for proximity alerts while we're still navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. The primary challenges ahead start with preventing the spread of Covid-19 at any cost within workplaces. Identifying and controlling the spread and the infection chains as early as humanly possible are right behind, as they are needed to contribute to the overall well-being of society and the economy. Disinfecting spaces and surfaces in which the Covid-19 virus can and could spread will and must be of the highest priority. Badges can help prevent a large number of people from congregating in a single area. It can also help remind employees and visitors to use proper social distancing.
Employees often spend one-third of their day in meetings, typically in spaces dedicated to that purpose. These rooms should be easily accessible and not require manual searching or excessive amounts of time to find and reserve. Complaints about the lack of availability of a meeting room are among the most common for facility managers.
Also, meeting rooms are often not used effectively. As often the only quiet space in the work environment, meeting rooms are frequently occupied by people who want to work alone or for private phone calls. Also, meeting room sizes can be much too small or too large for the group that needs a meeting space.
Another problem is that some of the meeting rooms are reserved but not used. Because of scarcity, people book meeting rooms “to be safe”, sometimes not showing up and abandoning the booking without updating the booking system. Meeting time change. Sometimes end early or get canceled altogether. How often do you update your room reservations when plans change? If you're being honest, the answer is hardly ever. As a result, organizations experience reduced team productivity and/or reduced individual productivity while wasting expensive real-estate.
With location data you can:
Some work spaces can welcome very significant numbers of visitors. Among them can be potentially bad actors and others who do not conform to company safety and security policies.
As a result, visitors frequently require escort by a company employee, creating additional demands on employee time along with liability issues. As a result, when an escort is not effective or cannot be arranged, visitors may gain access to sensitive company assets and inflict significant economic or reputational damage. Option for supporting security personnel and tracing historical visitor movements inside buildings for investigative purposes are limited.
Facility management needs more reliable and effective tools for monitoring the location of visitors at all times. They need the ability to determine if a visitor is entering a restricted area and prevent them from stealing or gaining access to sensitive information. Being able to determine if and when a visitor has left the building or a particular area, and being able to document it digitally, would also be a very effective tool.
With location data you can:
Since energy is one of the biggest operational expenses of any commercial business, the opportunity for energy optimization that smart buildings offer is a huge benefit. As much as a third of an average operating budget goes to energy consumption. With smart buildings, the building's status is constantly monitored and adjusted. The system will continually adjust to achieve maximum efficiency.
With more efficient energy use comes lower consumption. Smart building implementation can help reduce your company's energy costs as much as 35%. Estimates show that HVAC uses as much as 80% of the average building's total energy consumption which is significant. With numbers like that, an investment in smart building integration is a substantial return on investment.
Many buildings are already equipped with access control systems that count the number of people entering and exiting their space. However, during an emergency evacuation, all exits are open and it is not possible to accurately scan and count all entries and exits. As a result, building security is completely blind and has to rely on time-consuming and error-prone manual people counting in muster areas (assembly areas) and pre-set lists. As a result, first responders are forced to visually scan the building, often in dangerous conditions involving fire and smoke, to ensure no trapped or injured people are left behind. This method is inaccurate, wastes time and endangers lives.
In crisis conditions when every second counts, building management and emergency responders need to be able to instantly and accurately count the number of people in a building and at particular assembly points. Being able to quickly inform first responders about the whereabouts of missing people in the case of an evacuation event is key to a safe resolution to the crisis.
In today’s world, constant advancements in technology help to add a whole new level of convenience and efficiency into our everyday lives. Enhancing the employee and customer experience in smart building goes beyond providing conveniences to boosting the bottom line of many operations. Kontakt.io offers a rapid solution fulfilment model, unlocking value and delivering an immediate positive impact on business outcomes. If you think your bank or financial institution could benefit from converting its building or facility into a smart building contact us today.
In today's world, the constant advancements in technology help to add a whole new level of convenience and efficiency into our everyday lives. For years, many companies have been utilizing the new technology to make their offices run more smoothly. But office buildings are not the only ones that can benefit from using advanced technology in the workplace. In fact, malls and museums were the first to update the Internet of Things (IoT). These public venues found that by incorporating these technologies into their establishment, they were able to create an overall better customer experience. Here’s how you can use Bluetooth to create smart buildings and improve the quality of your business.
Now that technology has helped to create "smart cars" and "smart homes", many people have come to expect a certain level of convenience in their daily lives. Turning buildings into "smart buildings" is becoming a must especially when we think of office buildings. Many public venues have already started using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to enhance their visitor's experience. By simply installing Bluetooth beacons into your public space, you will be able to create a more convenient and engaging environment for both your visitors and your employees.
Because technology is so widely used today, most guests that visit a public venue will have a certain level of expectations before they even step foot inside of the building. In fact, we are living in a world where a large number of children and teenagers have had technology at their disposal for their entire lives. Because of this, the majority of guests that visit any public space expect there to be some sort of technological component set up to make their visit more convenient. This includes the ability to navigate their way through a public building with ease.
By creating smart buildings and implementing Bluetooth beacons into a public venue, you will be able to easily provide your guests with a clear and efficient route to their destination with a familiar and convenient form of technology.
With Bluetooth technology in smart buildings, your visitors will no longer have to stand in long lines or create entrance-blocking crowds. Beacons that are placed near the entrance detect when a visitor is approaching the venue. It can then use the visitor's smartphone to check them into the venue and the guests can even pay for the visit without ever having to take their wallet out. This helps to eliminate long lines at the entrance and can even eliminate manual ticketing completely. The same system can also be used at certain events within the establishments and other areas like the gift shop or cafeteria.
When Bluetooth beacons are used in an indoor venue, they are able to help visitors to become better acquainted with the facility at their own pace. Beacons can be used to send information to the visitor's phone to give them a more personalized experience. For example, many museums use these beacons to notify their guests of any upcoming lectures or events. They can also detect where the visitor is in the museum and send them information about the specific exhibit that they are currently looking at. This allows every guest to receive a personalized tour of the venue at the same time, which allows them the freedom to explore the museum in their own way.
Click here to download our ‘Indoor Navigation with Bluetooth Beacons’ white paper >
When Bluetooth beacons are used in an indoor venue, they are able to help visitors to become better acquainted with the facility at their own pace. Beacons can be used to send information to the visitor's phone to give them a more personalized experience. For example, many museums use these beacons to notify their guests of any upcoming lectures or events. They can also detect where the visitor is in the museum and send them information about the specific exhibit that they are currently looking at. This allows every guest to receive a personalized tour of the venue at the same time, which allows them the freedom to explore the museum in their own way.
Enhancing the customer experience in smart building goes beyond providing conveniences to boosting the bottom line of many operations. The return on experience (ROX) is directly connected to an increase in ROI. Having beacons in your venue/building has the ability to increase your ROI. Beacons can sense when a patron is in the area at a nearby restaurant or store. Once known users have been recognized, the system can automatically send push notifications to their phone to notify them of upcoming events or special offers. But over the longer term, better customer or visitor relationships mean more return visits and a greater likelihood of being recommended to others. In today’s marketplace, it’s the experience that drives value for both guest and host.
Another way to increase revenue is by sending the visitor information or offers based on where they spent the largest amount of time at the venue. For example, some museums will use their Bluetooth solutions to see which exhibit their guests spend the most time at. Then, they will send a notification to the visitor's phone to let them know about any upcoming events that are related to the exhibit or any related items that they sell in the gift shop. Again, the better the experience, the deeper the relationship can go.
Public places that have deployed beacons are not only able to improve efficiency, but they can also improve the safety of visitors and the staff.
Nobody likes to get lost in a crowded venue. Trying to find your way through a large building can be both confusing and a waste of time. Because of this, places like large shopping malls and airports use geofencing systems to help guide their visitors to their destination with turn-by-turn instructions. This helps them to stay on the right path to where they are going without having to stop and ask for directions.
Bluetooth also lets you monitor the well-being and safety of employees. In case of an emergency, employers can easily locate staff and see who is in the safety zones and who is not. This will help increase efficiency and decrease the amount of time it takes to ensure that everyone is protected and safe.
BLE helps management to oversee production on a broader scale. With Bluetooth, employers can easily monitor aspects of the business that need to be improved upon, which can help the venue's overall operations run more efficiently.
Not only is this technology for smart buildings great for improving the customer experience, but it can also help the business side of your venue as well. When you use a BLE system for your company, you will be able to:
Bluetooth technology can use beacons to help simplify asset tracking. Instead of spending time on searching for an asset, that time can be directed towards productive activities. Wasting valuable time on anything that doesn’t contribute to the efficient operation of the organization negatively impacts the bottom line. Asset tracking capabilities help you to keep wasted time to a minimum. Also, this technology can help you to better monitor productivity within the company and use real-time data to see in what areas of production are the slowest. By identifying the problem areas, you will be better able to see how your facility and equipment is being used productively and what equipment may be causing bottlenecks.
When public areas provide indoor navigation through Bluetooth technologies to create smart buildings, they are able to increase efficiency for their guests and their staff. With this technology, visitors are able to simply look at their phone, see all of the points of interest that the building has, pick which one they want to go to, and then find the easiest and quickest way to get there. This not only helps the guest to have a more enjoyable and efficient visit, but it also allows the staff to focus on more important aspects of the business instead of having to give directions to several different visitors.
With Bluetooth, management will also be able to look at both real-time and historical data to come up with better asset control solutions. By seeing what assets are used regularly and what assets are not used very much, management will then be able to purchase those assets based on how much they are needed, which will lower the overall asset costs by ensuring that money is well spent.
Beacons can also be used to monitor your employees when they are at work. No longer will they have to fill out an old-fashioned timesheet or worry about whether they properly clocked in or clocked out. With beacons, the system will automatically get an update when the employee comes and goes, which will also help employees keep better track of how many hours they have worked in a week.
BLE can also use geofencing technology to ensure that there are no security breaches within the establishment. With this type of technology, the beacons are able to detect when someone has entered a restricted area. The geofence is able to alert employees and management when someone has entered or exited an unauthorized area, which helps the employees ensure that only authorized personnel have entered these areas. If there is a security breach, many employees can be alerted simultaneously, which will allow the closest employee to investigate the breach, which could help to reduce the response time.
We are here to help your business run more efficiently. By implementing Bluetooth technologies to create smart buildings, your business will flourish. Whether you are looking for a complete solution, or a reliable beacon and infrastructure vendor, kontakt.io is your expert to help.
At first glance, hospital bed tracking sounds like a simple, straightforward task. But if you operate a large medical center or a chain of hospitals, you likely know that there is more to bed tracking than meets the eye. Poor bed visibility, deferred bed maintenance, and a lack of centralized information can all make it difficult to keep track of available beds. Below is a look at some of the top bed-related challenges facing today's hospitals and the specific ways a real-time hospital bed management solution can prime your hospital for success.
The path to improved hospital bed management begins with an understanding of the barriers facing today's hospitals. Here is a look at some of the key challenge that negatively impact a hospital's HCAHPS rating and revenue:
"A bottleneck is the part of the patient care journey that cannot meet the demand for services efficiently. At this point, services are delayed and patient care must wait." - Patrice Spath, RHIT, Adjunct Professor University of Alabama at Birmingham
Bottlenecks in patient flow top the list of barriers facing hospitals because they directly impact the patient experience and hospital profitability. They occur when demand for beds or a particular hospital service exceeds the hospital's available resources. If they are not addressed, bottlenecks can negatively impact the entire patient care experience.
Not being able to accurately know how many beds are available tremendously affects hospital bed management. Hospitals that lack real-time visibility of available beds are left to use outdated information to guess how many beds are available in each department. Underestimating that number can cause patients to wait as open beds remain unoccupied. And overestimating the number of available beds can lead to frustration as patients are transported to beds that are already filled.
No piece of hospital equipment is immune to problems. But when a hospital bed breaks down, the consequences are especially costly because a patient room remains unoccupied until the bed is repaired or replaced. Common reasons for defects include worn parts, operational errors, and lapses in preventive maintenance.
"Cancelling operations is not a decision we ever take lightly...We cannot operate on patients if we have nowhere to care for them. We cancelled these cancer operations predominantly due to the lack of a bed in intensive care." - John Adler, Leicester NHS Trust Chief Executive
Canceling surgeries due to a lack of functional beds causes stress and frustration during a time that is already difficult for patients. The problem is becoming so pronounced that some patients have had their surgeries canceled twice due to bed shortages and visibility issues. In many cases, the patients take drugs and fast to prepare for surgery, only to be told at the last minute that there are actually no beds available.
In 2019, Florida VA Hospitals reported nearly $5 million in missing medical equipment. The list of missing and stolen items included a wide range of items ranging from computers to a $25,000 eye scanner. With new FDA-approved electric hospital beds costing over $10,000 and most professionally refurbished hospital beds costing over $2,000, hospitals cannot afford to lose beds to theft or misplacement.
Poor patient flow, canceled surgeries, and a lack of preventive maintenance combine to create a recipe for sluggish cash flow for hospitals. And when hospitals fail to meet revenue goals, they are unable to expand services or invest in new technology. A hospital is then unable to maintain its competitive edge.
Addressing the challenges above is no longer an option for hospital administrators - it is a must. A growing number of hospitals are turning to real-time bed management solutions such as Simon AI to expedite their searches for available beds and keep track of the bed's maintenance history. Here are some of the top advantages a real-time bed management solution can offer.
Real-time access to bed information helps to minimize delays and bottlenecks. Thom Mayer, M.D. and Executive Vice President of Envision Physician Services, lists the "Use of Technology to Enhance Care" as one of the top five strategies to improve patient flow.
By automating bed visibility, clinical staff are no longer forced to depend on outdated information or error-prone manual notes. They can quickly find out if a specific bed is located within the ward, the hospital's post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), or within a patient room. Additionally, centralized bed authorities can devote more time to communicating with units about the needs of incoming patients because they no longer have to physically visit locations within a hospital to confirm bed availability.
Reducing the number of canceled surgeries by improving bed tracking and visibility can save a large hospital millions of dollars. For example, the number of delayed and canceled surgeries at The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) was estimated to be 7,500 annually, resulting in a estimated loss of $5.9 million. By improving bed management, many of these dollars are funneled back into the hospital budget.
Preventive maintenance should be performed at least annually by a certified biomedical engineer or technician. In many cases, maintenance is performed offsite or within a specific location within a hospital. Simon AI tracks the removal of beds for preventive maintenance service. Additionally, the platform's notification engine can alert staff if a bed has not been removed for servicing within the recommended time frame.
Real-time bed management solutions like Simon AI help users track down missing beds by enabling them to quickly find the last location of any tagged hospital bed. Users can also view the bed's entire location history to help determine who may have moved the bed. Finally, users help prevent theft by setting notifications to alert staff when a bed is being moved from a designated zone or moved out of the hospital.
"Quickly assigning patients to beds is critical to both the patients' recovery and the financial health of hospitals. Large hospitals typically employ teams of 50 or more bed managers who spend the bulk of their day making calls and sending faxes to various departments vying for their share of the beds available." - Minoo Javanmardian and Aditya Lingampally, Harvard Business Review
Introducing Simon AI greatly minimizes the amount of staffing time spent on identifying available beds. This enables clinical staff to spend more time caring for patients and less time searching for available beds. The end result is greater efficiency and a reduction in staffing expenditures.
An improved patient experience is, by far, the most important benefit of a real-time bed management solution. By improving patient flow, reducing the number of canceled surgeries, and minimizing wait times for beds, patients are able to complete their treatment faster and with a higher level of satisfaction.
Learn how the Internet of Things is solving common and complex problems for healthcare providers>
A BLE-based management solution provides users with real-time information on a bed's location. The solution is user-friendly and requires little in the way of equipment. The short list of requirements include a Simon AI subscription, Kontakt.io Bluetooth LE devices, and Bluetooth LE Gateways. Compatible 3rd party devices and WiFi network infrastructures will also suffice.
Implementation is also straightforward with users simply attaching a Bluetooth tag to every bed in the hospital. And because Simon AI is hardware agnostic and compatible with a variety of 3rd party applications.The process can be summarized in four simple steps:
Once you have implemented Simon AI, you can take your bed management to the next level by retrieving and analyzing data about your beds. For example, you can pinpoint locations where delays are most likely to occur and adjust your staffing and procedures accordingly. Additionally, you can identify locations and patterns to trigger automated actions. For example, you can schedule an email alert if 365 days passes without a bed being removed from the ward for servicing.
Another key function of Simon AI is its powerful analytics. Simon AI enables users to easily review collected bed data and identify bed-related inefficiencies. The end result is a boost in productivity and efficiency.
As outlined above, a real-time management solution such as Simon AI can help you overcome some of the greatest challenges facing today's hospitals. The single best step to improving your bed management is to schedule a discovery call with a Kontakt.io specialist. During your complimentary discovery call, you will learn how Kontakt.io's solutions can help you achieve the following at your hospital:
IoT, or Internet of Things, devices are wireless devices that connect via a network to communicate with one another. Companies are increasingly reporting that they consider IoT solutions to be beneficial to increasing the productivity of their employees. However, many of these companies, despite the expressed confidence in the technology, are not investing in implementing IoT in their processes.
Converting everything over to data-integrated manufacturing with IoT devices driving the change is expensive and will radically alter the way a manufacturing company operates. These can be difficult things to get shareholders or major stakeholders on board with.
In this post, we'd like to talk about what IoT is, how it is used in manufacturing, and how you can maximize your ROI while minimizing your risk while you make the switch over to a more automated workflow.
If you found the definition at the beginning of the post a little vague, allow us to clarify what IoT devices are. They are very commonplace, so you've probably seen them before even if you didn't know what they are called.
A common example of an IoT device is a smart bulb in your home. When you tell Alexa or Google to turn on your smart bulb, two IoT devices are communicating with each other to automate a task in your daily life. Light bulbs and smart speakers are universally useful, but IoT devices can get very specific as well. So specific, in fact, that there is likely a wide variety of IoT devices on the market specific to your particular industry.
While there are likely devices specific to your industry that will allow your various processes to communicate with one another and more effectively automate your workflow, there are also more general-purpose solutions that apply to manufacturing processes more broadly. These solutions allow you to streamline your workflow, reduce human error, and seek out inefficiencies through the machine-learning analysis of the data that they collect.
Let's take a look at some of the ways that IoT technologies can aid in your company's digital transformation as you embrace the move to industry 4.0.
Bluetooth low-energy is similar to the Bluetooth technology that you use in your home, except that it uses significantly less battery power. This makes BLE ideal for manufacturing solutions because you can have a large number of devices without having to worry about constantly charging them or swapping out batteries.
As a tracking technology, BLE is more advanced than RFID, which cannot be tracked unless it is scanned. BLE is an IoT device—it will send its tracking information wirelessly to your software so that it is available in real-time without the need for human intervention or chokepoint-creating scanning stations.
One of the big advantages of IoT-based tracking is that any item that is tagged cannot be lost. Finding the item will always be as simple as opening a computer and searching for it. The uses of such technology are endless. You will be able to more accurately keep track of all your work-in-progress parts as they move through the various stages of manufacturing and storage.
If you have costly equipment that must be shared across a large facility by an equally large number of employees, then checking that equipment in and out, and ensuring that it doesn't get lost, becomes a lot easier. BLE powered tracking devices can even alert you if a piece of your equipment is leaving a designated area so theft and unauthorized use can be prevented.
IoT tracking can also be used on people. One of the biggest benefits of this is that IoT-enabled badges can completely replace your current time management solution. Your employees will no longer need to clock in or out because the platform will know that they are on the job as soon as they step into their designated work area with a badge on.
The use of the technology that we hope never has to be used is in regard to employee safety. Should an accident occur, it can be difficult to know where any employees that are not accounted for are located. They could be trapped and in danger and finding them may be difficult. If those employees are wearing IoT tracking badges, then finding them is easy and rescue efforts can begin promptly.
Tracking your assets as they move through the manufacturing process, or equipment loaned out to employees, isn't the only way that tracking can be beneficial. When materials need to be stored away, you need a reliable way to know exactly how many of which materials you have. Inventory management done manually is a time sink and prone to errors. But leveraging the power of IoT trackers allows you to automate your inventory workflow and get more reliable results that are always updated in real-time. You'll never again have to worry about over or under purchasing because of a bad inventory count.
IoT tracking devices allow you to mark where a device is in the manufacturing process. This will provide you with the greatest transparency about how your workflow is performing. By having a more granular look at how your manufacturing process is organized, you will get a quick heads up when problems occur, allowing you to more accurately convey to customers how long their orders should take before completion.
IoT devices are constantly recording data. In the case of IoT tracking, you will not only know the current location of a given asset, but its historic locations as well. Feeding all of this data into machine learning algorithms can provide you with some key insights about how your operation is running. The machine can learn (or be taught) which anomalies represent a problem and automatically alert someone so the problem is taken care of quickly. These algorithms can spot chokepoints that slow your productivity and give you a heads up so that you can make the changes necessary to resolve the problem. Perhaps a commonly used path takes a significantly longer time than a less commonly used one. Switching your flow up could lead to a significant boost in performance thanks to insights that otherwise would not have been available.
Click here to download our ‘What Lean Manufacturing Means in the Age of IoT’ white paper >
A functioning IoT implementation brings together several different aspects that will all work together to ensure that your productivity and user experience is maximized. These different parts should not be viewed in isolation, but rather as parts of a whole. The performance of one aspect can have profound impacts on the performance of the others.
- Hardware - The hardware in an IoT implementation is the 'things' part in the 'Internet of Things.' These are the actual devices that will be communicating with your software to provide data about their operation and about the data that they are supposed to be monitoring. The hardware is the heart and soul of the implementation.
- Software - The software that powers your IoT installation will provide the brains that the hardware needs in order to make your automation efforts worthwhile. This is the part of the installation that allows all of the devices to be accessed from a central location and that processes the data that they are all sending in order to make meaningful use of it.
- Consulting - Digital transformation and the move to industry 4.0 is complicated. So is the move to an IoT-based manufacturing process. It is vital that you have someone on your side who can evaluate the needs of your business and give you useful advice about the best way to proceed with a new installation or any upgrades that you may be considering. Having knowledgeable consultants on board is an important step to maximizing your ROI in the move to IoT.
Awareness that IoT-based manufacturing can improve your productivity is one thing, but the confidence that you can implement it seamlessly and affordably with your current workflow is another. This disconnect could be why businesses that are aware of the benefits haven't taken the step towards implementation yet. The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, though, and soon you'll need to begin your digital transformation in order to remain competitive. Here are 3 ways Kontakt.io can help give you the confidence you need to make that step.
- Single Source Provider - Kontakt.io provides hardware, software, and consulting for the adoption of IoT in your manufacturing processes. This reduces the expense and ensures that your adoption process will be as painless as possible.
- Technology Agnostic - We talked a lot about BLE devices in this post, but our Simon AI platform is technology agnostic. It will work with BLE, but also with UWB, WiFi, RFID, and more. This helps to maximize the compatibility with your existing workflow.
- Multiple Integrations - Speaking of your existing workflow, you'll want an IoT partner that is able to integrate with the tools that you want to use. At Kontakt.io, we already have integrations with Cisco Meraki, Ruckus, Juniper, Rigado, Quuppa and more. By integrating with the tools you want to use, we can help reduce the cost of your installation.
If you are ready to see what Simon AI can do for your business, contact us today.