It seems as if there is a new report every other day on the devastating effects that air pollution has on our health. While much of the focus is on outdoor air pollution, it is indoors where most of us spend 90% of our time. Pollution in indoor spaces is often at its most dangerous and can have serious consequences. This holds true as well in the world of business where bad indoor air has increased the risk of health issues for employees and work absences lead to lower productivity. An unfavorable working environment also has a negative effect on a company’s ability to attract talent. Customers are increasingly taking health issues into consideration in their decision for or against business partners.

It should be in every organization’s interest to transform its indoor spaces into clean and healthy environments. How can a company take control of its indoor air quality? With the “Internet of Things”! IoT can help empower the owners and occupants of buildings to know, improve and manage the indoor air quality around them. If you combine IoT with deep domain know-how in indoor air quality technologies, the result is intelligent air quality solutions which can help to achieve cleaner air.

Through the adoption of IoT-enabled indoor air quality solutions, indoor spaces can be virtually managed as digital spaces, just like digital assets. Air quality can be quantified and qualified more easily, more precisely, and in real time. A/B tests can be run and big data analysis employed to enable users to determine which solutions perform better and how they can be used to improve the air quality level.

The successful solutions can be scaled up for wider deployment just as in the digital world. Backend platforms feature digital twins of the solutions to provide real-time data and information about operating and location conditions. Property managers are not bound to their own location anymore, IoT allows them to manage indoor air quality at different places around the world from their own dashboards.

Internet of Things is not only a trend

MANN+HUMMEL, a filtration specialist, recognizes the need to build up in-depth know-how in this fast-evolving field. In fact more and more traditional industrial corporations are opting to build on its domain‑specific expertise, invest in digital capabilities, and start its IoT journey. It is challenging for manufacturers of industrial goods. Electronics, platforms, apps, APIs, data analytics – for many, this is a completely new world that has to be developed from scratch.

While the effort of offering smart solutions seems catered to end users, it also benefits manufacturers through access to real-world data. In the case of air filtration, manufacturers can now know exactly how their filters perform in their operational environments and not just in a lab situation according to standards. This enables research and development organizations to work on even better products and also allows the adaptation of solutions to geographic conditions or specific fields of applications.

Improving air quality through bits and bytes

How does it look like if an industrial company leverages on its traditional expertise, combines it with digital technologies, and approaches a significant challenge like air pollution at the same time? Through adopting its suite of smart and connected indoor air quality solutions, MANN+HUMMEL is now able to have a better grasp on the indoor air quality of its offices in more than 80 locations around the world, bringing positive benefits to more than 20,000 employees.

Air quality measuring devices and platforms continuously monitor the outdoor and indoor air for harmful pollutants, thereby providing a comprehensive picture of the air quality inside and outside of locations. An app and a linked web portal provide up-to-date reports of air pollution in and around a building and offer suggestions on how to improve occupant safety. In cases of bad air, high grade HVAC filters and in-room air purification systems are able to effectively remove pollutant particles, allergens, volatile organic chemicals and PM2.5.

How can a company take control of its indoor air quality?Besides office spaces, smart air quality solutions can also be used in other applications. MANN+HUMMEL is co-operating with the city of Ludwigsburg in Germany. Through deploying smart air solutions in public buildings such as the town hall, schools and kindergartens, IT experts and developers are able to collect critical data and conduct analysis. This is preceded by an intensive exchange between IT experts in the companies and city authorities and property managers.

The Internet of Things is not only a trend. It disrupts and results in fundamental changes to many industries and businesses. Companies need to be fast, willing to deal with ambiguity and increase their risk tolerances. The exponential speed of disruption requires a new way of working and trust in innovative and open partnerships.