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Danish ISS has Stuffed Their HQ with Sensors

Blog. There are multiple opportunities for the future workplace, when it comes to using data. ISS, the Danish cleaning service and facility management company, is an interesting case. Due to privacy laws in Europe, the global company is reluctant to introduce personalized services. On the other hand, it has stuffed its headquarter close to Copenhagen with sensors collecting non-personally data so the ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ building can optimize both energy and services.

Sensors all over in the ISS headquarters can tell where are the free tables and meeting rooms. Photo from the ISS vide

The ISS headquarters in Søborg is ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’, and the group has made a video about it. There is almost nothing the bright building cannot do, as not as it is fed with enough data. With the help of sensors and face recognition cameras, employees can get the temperature that suits them personally at their desks. The table automatically adjusts to their height. And the light adjusts as they move through the rooms. The building is generally energy-saving, and the floors are washed when needed rather than on fixed times – from service-by-schedule to service-on-demand.
Guests arriving in hybrid cars are directed via their smartphones to a free parking space with chargers, and they can order coffee already from the car, so it is ready for them at the reception. Lunch is prepared for guests, so they don’t get food that contains ingredients they are allergic to. The meeting rooms are not empty but utilized optimally, because sensors keep an eye on whether and how many are in the premises, and there are automatic real-time translations of languages ​​during the meetings.
The employees are smiling when going home grapping takeaway food on their way out passing the front desk – with a receptionist who is a real person by the way – and when leaving the building they rate the experience on their smartphone.

The video with ISS’s smart building is not yet real, says Brian Strømsted, Head of Business Solutions and Sam Lavers, Global IOT Manager at ISS, but that’s the way it goes.

“The video is a show-off of what we do today and might do in the future. For example, we do not use face recognition due to privacy laws that say we should get consent to do it. Privacy is a core issue for us. And everybody asks me when they visit us, “says Brian Strømsted.

ISS does not measure how long the employees are sitting at their tables or in the meeting rooms, go out and smoke or have a coffee break.

“Our focus is not on the employee or on people, but on the place around the employee and people. How many are sitting around the table and when is it free, “explains Sam Lavers.

Individual temperature wherever you sit is a future scenario in the ISS video

It is about Patterns
According to ISS, the sensor data is not personal data. The sensors only know that there is movement going on, how many there are, but not who it is. Even though the meeting room booking system often could reveal, who was in the room, this data is not paired with sensor data. Sensor data is stored temporarily in a database where they are analyzed and then deleted, while the patterns are saved, they explain.

ISS’s many HR data is kept separate from the building’s sensor data.

“We don’t use HR data. But HR could use some of our sensor data, for example, to see if there is more activity in the smoking area than before, so they have some general trends, “said Sam Lavers.

The setting of tables does not happen automatically today, and the employees must set them manually. Neither does any obtaining of data on food allergy happen. 

“If we introduce personalised services, employees must give consent to it. For example we could let them choose between saving the data for the next time or simply deleting it, ” says Strømsted.

In ISS’s future building video, guests can get exactly the food they need

On the other hand, sensors under the table stack in in the canteen can tell, when there have been so many employees in for lunch, that food is to be refilled on the dishes again.

ISS keeps an eye on trends before moving on using personal data in Europe. Legislation in Europe is strictly opposite, for example, in Asia, where the use of facial recognition is widespread.

“We focus on the building. But we keep an eye on where we are moving in Europe with personalized services, before we move on to the personal plan with this, “says Strømsted.