Current & BuroHappold use Sensors to Help Telecom Giant Reopen Safely

When a British telecommunications giant upgraded their London headquarters to include LED lighting, controls and sensors, they knew they would be able to streamline the management of their building, reduce costs and minimize environmental impact. What they didn’t know is that same digital ceiling would one day be used to help safely reopen office space amid a pandemic.

This collaboration sees smart sensors from GE Current, a Daintree company, and SmartViz—a Smart Buildings analytics platform from consulting firm BuroHappold. The solution enabled major space utilisation and productivity improvement in the pre-covid office. In the post-covid world, the deep insights from the workplace data is being used to prioritize the safety of employees returning to the offices around the world.

The Digital Ceiling

The company’s headquarters featured several floors equipped with computer vision, environmental sensors and occupancy sensors. Sensors from Current were used to track temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, light levels, noise levels and occupancy. Occupancy went deeper than just people-counting: Passive infrared (PIR) sensors paired with computer vision provide real-time insight into where people are to ensure safe distancing entering and leaving the building, as well as when working and moving around within the office.

As part of the proof of concept, about 60 light fixtures over 6,020 square feet (560 square meters) were outfitted with environmental sensors. Workplace occupancy and staff behavior were anonymously tracked with the help of 111 line counters, which were placed at the entry and exit points of each floor and at the entrances of individual meeting rooms.

BuroHappold Office Heatmap and Analytics


BuroHappold Helps Create a Safer Reopening

The team at BuroHappold, led by Dr. Shrikant Sharma, Group Director and Head of Workplace Analytics, was able to use the data from Current’s sensors and others to model what the workplace would look like in a post-COVID world. Dr. Sharma and his team began by analyzing the traditional office setup, including how the existing layout would affect the flow of people at full and reduced capacity. Social distancing wasn’t possible at full occupancy, and the initial modelling suggested that the floor could only be filled to 52%.

But BuroHappold got creative. The Workplace Analytics team deployed SmartViz to model and test different layouts of the workplace, and using unique integration of historic, real-time and predictive modelling data modeled how physical distancing would look like within the floor plans. In one example, BuroHappold found that the floor could safely be filled to 86% capacity by changing the desk layouts. One simple modification would enable their clients to safely bring back a larger portion of the workforce while maintaining social distancing and lowering associated risks.

The Post-COVID Workplace

BuroHappold Office Heatmap


This is just one example of what BuroHappold and GE Current, a Daintree company can do together. Data from Current’s sensors can be harnessed with the help of partner applications, like BuroHappold’s SmartViz platform, and turned into unique actionable insights that make businesses safer and smarter.

The continued uncertainty of the pandemic combined with the future of how people will return to formal offices, what they will do there, and how the future of work will adapt remains uncertain. Working with, this process has shown that resilience relies on data, and on the ability to predict, track and adapt at speed. We don’t know exactly what these sensors will show in the future, but the pandemic has shown us that assumptions are no longer valid, proven data is the answer.

Smart building management is closer than ever thanks to the power and potential of the digital ceiling. To learn how sensors and actionable analytics can work for you, contact us today.

About BuroHappold

BuroHappold is an international, integrated consultancy of engineers, consultants and advisers. Operating in 24 locations worldwide, with 60 partners and over 1,900 employees; for over 40 years we have built a world-class reputation for delivering creative, value led solutions for an ever-challenging world.