While Finland is known for its clean outdoor air, many workplaces and home offices struggle with poor indoor air quality. Artificial intelligence could be used to quickly determine the causes of poor indoor air quality in order to increase employees’ productivity and comfort also in home offices.

Good indoor air is hardly noticeable. The air is fresh, it is easy to breathe and work progresses smoothly. On the other hand, poor air quality can cause various unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and eye irritation. Even if people are keen to complain about poor indoor air quality in the workplace, they might not notice stuffy indoor air at home so easily.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant increase of remote work in a home office. Artificial intelligence would be an easy way to measure the indoor air quality in home offices. 720 Degrees Oy, a speciality in indoor air monitoring and analytics, leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning and Digita’s IoT network in its solutions.

Since the network is based on LoRa technology, a small measuring sensor can be installed at an employee’s home office to monitor the indoor air quality. The solutions utilise Digita’s IoT network and therefore do not require separate base stations in order to work, since Digita’s network covers almost the whole of Finland.

– Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many workplaces have now transferred the responsibility for a productive and healthy working environment to their personnel, which is not a good solution. Thanks to Digita’s network, all that is needed is to send the sensor by post to the home office, and the monitoring of conditions in the working environment can start, says Rick Aller, CEO of 720 Degrees.

720 Degrees used a different technology in the past, but then shifted to using Digita’s network, as it operates “in a completely different league, even compared to international operators.”

– For us, the adoption of Digita’s network has enabled us to install our products eight times faster. At the same time, the number of maintenance operations has clearly decreased.

Mika Flinck, Sales Director of Digita’s IoT Services, is also delighted with the cooperation.

– We are delighted to be working with 720 Degrees. We are able to provide them with a nationwide LoRaWAN network that enables reliable monitoring of environmental conditions.

Indoor air quality has a significant impact on productivity and comfort of work

The impact of indoor air quality on the well-being of an employee working at home should not be underestimated. For example, a high CO2 level and excessively high temperature have a significant effect on productivity.

According to a calculation made by 720 Degrees three years ago, Finnish companies lose an average of EUR 266 per employee per year due to inefficiency arising out of poor indoor air quality, but at worst, the figure might be as high as EUR 2,080 per employee per year.

– In the properties we monitor, productivity has increased by up to 30 per cent since the calculation was carried out. The reason is data collection itself, which has facilitated the creation of a better working environment after the problems have been discovered,” Aller says.

The world’s first indoor air analytics solution that uses artificial intelligence measures several factors, such as temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide, VOCs, i.e. volatile organic compounds, fine particles and noise level. 720 Degrees has provided solutions since 2012.

According to Aller, the most common topic of complaints on indoor air is heating: too high a temperature is often the reason for stuffy indoor air. The second is noise, which is a common problem in open-plan offices.

– These factors have a huge impact on how people thrive in the premises. Of course, it is also important that indoor air promotes to health and well-being. For example, the concentration of airborne fine particles, i.e. the effectiveness of air filtration in the building, cannot be seen without measurement. At worst, airborne fine particles can constitute a major health hazard.

Indoor air measurement and analysis make it possible to cut the costs of chasing problems that arise out of poor indoor air quality.

– When the quality of indoor air improves, electricity consumption decreases, the productivity of the people using the property increases and the value of the property increases as well.

Smart indoor air monitoring could help in preparing for flu seasons

One important characteristic of a comfortable workplace is the provision of up-to-date information on indoor air quality. The data collected with 720 Degrees can be displayed to the users of the property on a tablet. The solution not only displays data, but also enables the users to interact with the property managers by giving feedback and describing their observations on indoor air.

This way, all stakeholders of the property, such as office workers, tenants, the owner and property maintenance, receive up-to-date information for decision-making, monitoring of actions and reporting. Changes in the indoor air quality can be acted on more quickly and thus prevent the emergence of actual problems.

– A problem revealed by the data can be reported automatically by means of a synthetic voice call to the maintenance personnel of the property. For example, if a sensor detects an alarming concentration of airborne small particles in the cellar of the building, the report to the maintenance personnel can be sent in five minutes from the time the sensor first detected the problem, describes Aller.

720 Degrees focuses solely on the collection and interpretation of data. Accurate and rapid information on problems in the indoor environment is key to addressing potential problems. The situations in which problems occur can be discovered quickly by combining and analysing measurement data points.

– For example, if a lunch break causes disturbingly high noise levels, even a small measure, such as a reminder to avoid making noise during the lunch break, can be enough to solve the problem.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence open up a wide range of possibilities for creating a safer, healthier and more productive workplace. For example, when the coronavirus pandemic subsides, monitoring of indoor air could be used to assess how airborne viruses circulate in an office building and adjustments made accordingly.

– During flu seasons, for example, ventilation could be increased or improved and the impact of these measures on the quantities of volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide emitted by people could be monitored.

Digita’s LoRaWAN network

  • A national network that can be used for IoT (Internet of Things) solutions
  • Designed for wireless and energy-efficient data transfer
  • Based on LoRa (Long Range) technology, which is especially well suited for sending and receiving small amounts of data over long distances
  • Key features of LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology include two-way data communication, portability, tracking solutions and easy deployment
  • The sensors used to collect data are lightweight and easy to install wirelessly
  • A wide range of sensor solutions available

This article was originally published on the mtvuutiset.fi website as part of a commercial partnership.