In today’s smart buildings, there are a great deal of time-saving advantages being enjoyed by facilities managers, employers, employees and visitors alike. From an improved working environment to enhanced well-being and productivity, and from better energy efficiency to automated space management, there really is a whole lot to appreciate. But did you know that a smart building can also streamline visitor management? Wayfinder technology has come on in leaps and bounds and has now landed right in the palm of visitors’ hands.
What is a smart building?
Powered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the smart building brings together all the data churned out by the building’s management system, its security systems, utility meters, sensors and monitors, channelling it all into a single platform where it is analysed using a combination of manual intervention, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
The result is valuable intelligence that has the power to reduce energy wastage, cut costs, streamline productivity and efficiency, and enhance the overall quality of the workplace.
Smart buildings revolve a lot around automations, which are largely driven by machine learning and AI.
Lighting, heating and air quality systems, for example, can automatically respond to changing external conditions to create a comfortable workspace, where energy wastage is a thing of the past. Engineers can be automatically summoned when a piece of equipment is detected to be functioning below par. Cleaning teams can be automatically called to prepare a meeting or restroom when sensors detect it’s been used and then vacated.
In the smart building, there are environmental, financial and staff retention benefits to be relished. That’s why smart buildings make the perfect place to work, and why facilities managers are championing them so widely.
What is digital wayfinding?
Digital wayfinding has traditionally been all about interactive signage and was originally designed for buildings in which congestion would form at information desks, with staff being bombarded with questions that could easily have been answered courtesy of digital signage and kiosks.
A digital wayfinder system pretty much takes over where GPS maps finish at the door. The likes of museums, galleries and other public buildings, as well as large venues and outdoor attractions, have all successfully used digital wayfinding, providing visitors with a straightforward and interactive way to access the information they need when they find themselves in an unfamiliar environment. So, good for visitors, great for reputation, and fantastic for freeing up labour.
These days though, digital wayfinding has navigated itself into the workplace and is literally putting the vital information that visitors need right into the palms of their hands. Particularly useful as corporate headquarters expand in size, and as activity-based working makes it more of a challenge for workers to find the zone they need to best tackle the task in hand.
How does digital wayfinding help employees?
For the fresh face in new surroundings, it can be quite a daunting experience trying to find where you need to be. Induction in meeting room 3. Team meeting in breakout zone 5. Coffee with the supervisor on the terrace. And as for the restrooms…
And of course the bigger the premises, the more convoluted it gets. Imagine working for Facebook in London, whose office space occupies 247,000 square feet over seven floors. Or Google UK, whose headquarters cover 650,000 square feet. There’s just no way you’d be able to find your way around without a guide. Or wayfinder technology.
Good news then that the smart office provides wayfinding in mobile app format, with all the information people need to find their way right there on their personal screens, including the ability to message for assistance if needs be. And it doesn’t just provide directions to particular parts of the building. It also helps find the specific people you’re looking for, as well as providing information on real-time availability of meeting rooms and desk spaces.
How does digital wayfinding improve the visitor experience?
Digital wayfinding can also help efficiently manage visitors. It all starts with a visitor pass being issued directly to the visitor’s handset. This provides them with a map link for general navigation to the building, as well as specific directions to their allocated parking space where appropriate.
They’ll also use their handset as a pass to access the building, where they’ll be automatically signed in on entering for compliance with safety regulations. It is possible to restrict visitor access to certain zones to maintain security, and for health and safety reasons. Security credentials can also be requested in advance where necessary.
An automated alert is sent to the visitor’s host when the visitor arrives so that the host can either come and meet them, or prepare for them as they make their own way to the meeting destination using the wayfinding information on their handset.
Information on people’s locations can also be filtered into elevator management systems, allowing lifts to move automatically to the appropriate floors. This streamlines the entire process of moving around a building, making everything refreshingly simple for the visitor.
Digital wayfinding in the smart building… the future is here, and it offers many benefits
Using wayfinder technology, businesses are able to make life considerably easier and safer for their visitors. Digital wayfinding can significantly ease the burden on reception and customer service staff too, as well as enhance reputation and enrich the employee experience. All good news when it comes to boosting competitive edge, and improving staff retention rates.
Lighting the way with Smart Spaces and wayfinding technology
Smart Spaces is a cloud-based, app-driven platform powered by IoT technology. When used in conjunction with a building management system, it transforms the premises into a smart building, so that all the many benefits can be enjoyed. With its wayfinder API, the technology has the ability to transform the way visitors are managed.
To discover how Smart Spaces could help you enhance the visitor experience at your premises, and make it easier for your workers to find their way around, you are welcome to get in touch or request a demo.