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The true value of IoT

Spica Technologies is introducing three new solutions into the Manchester CityVerve project, which will bring real benefits to the community

The IoT allows for evidence-based decision making
The IoT allows for evidence-based decision making

There’s lots of noise around IoT, but start-up SPICA Technologies has created three solutions that break bread with the adults.


Parents of university-aged children, especially those living on campus, should be grateful to SPICA Technologies for its Legionella risk management solution.


The solution has already been deployed at international facilities management giant Carillion, (within branches of Nationwide Building Society on UK high streets), and IBM Labs in Winchester amongst many others.


It is currently being deployed at Manchester Met University and business property agent Bruntwood as part of the Manchester CityVerve pilot, and it’s safe to say that solution is already set for adoption and scale-up, beyond the project’s two-year deadline.


It’s a fact that all water, whether it’s in your home, office or local library for that matter, has Legionella bacteria in it. The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) demands that every public building in the UK has to undergo a Legionnaire control regime to mitigate against the risk of an outbreak.


Most organisations physically send an inspector to a building who will do the necessary checks such as inspecting temperature, taps, pipe works, boilers etc., and then enter the findings into a system. While these checks are carried out at regular intervals, it takes just six days for Legionnaires’ disease to incubate. An inspector coming in once a month could quite easily miss signs, as his/her intervention is only once in a given time period.


Universities are particularly at risk. Thanks to frequent holidays, there are many periods when water is not running through the system, and stagnant water is a real breeding ground for this bacteria. And then, even when students are in residence, there’s the headache logistics of gaining access to dorm rooms to undergo the physical checks.


What SPICA has done is harness the IoT and automated the whole process, making it far more reliable, safe and logistically feasible. It has deployed hardware device sensors that can be attached to the appropriate areas of the building’s water ecosystem such as temperature controls, pipes, taps and valves. These sensors are constantly monitoring in real time what is happening anywhere in the system. Utilising the SIGFOX communication protocol, data is passed back to the SPICA Devicepoint analytics platform; whereby anomalies are instantly identified and dealt with immediately.


The company is looking to further add to its CityVerve roster by introducing its new Smart Cleaning solution.

For Facilities Management (FM) companies, the cleanliness of the building is its premium profile activity, and the area on which it is most harshly judged. By utilising and combining multiple sensor data feeds, SPICA offers FM companies the tools to employ dynamic cleaning methods, resulting in significant efficiencies and savings.


Now only areas that need cleaning need to be cleaned, and only bins that are full need emptying. Cleaning focus is on high priority areas, and immediate reaction to cleaning issues as they occur can happen, which improves customer service. The potential for a more flexible working pattern can be established, which could create the possibility of sharing staff between nearby buildings thereby further improving overall efficiency and cost savings.

SPICA will be deploying this solution in Manchester with existing companies it has been working with, as well as new ones such as hospitals.


The third of SPICAs solutions about to enter CityVerve is to do with Workspace Optimisation, which is all about identifying ‘presence information’ within a built space.


Typical utilisation rates in office spaces are under 50 per cent, and applying IoT processes here allows for evidence-based decision making to improve future space planning and efficiency of usage.


Whilst there are a number of existing players in the workspace services market, they typically only monitor motion data. SPICA’s sensor data includes passive infrared sensors (PIR), CO2 levels, noise levels, temperature, humidity, VOC’s and light, providing real-time and long-term trend analytics about how a building is used by those who work in it.


This triumvirate of solutions is the big push for the next three months, but the company has another six in the pipeline that it will be introducing into the UK thereafter.


While opportunities in Europe and in the States beckon, sales and marketing director Tim Streather says the main focus at the moment is the UK, and the company is mindful of not growing too quickly or spreading itself too thin.


He might have a job on his hands. Incepted in November 2014, this Birmingham-based start-up has hit the ground running. The brainchild of the aforementioned Tim Streather, Paul Collins and Ben Williams; all seasoned IT professionals, it has already been named as Best Intelligent Building IoT Solution company in 2016, and voted one of the top IoT start-ups in Europe by Smart Industry magazine at the beginning of the year.


While the company certainly didn’t start out to target the intelligent buildings space and the Facilities Management market, it came to this niche by a process of elimination: replacing inefficient, people-orientated monitoring for real-time digital processes that transform and improve on a number of levels. This is IoT at its best, providing real benefits that really make a difference to everyday living.



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