How the IoT Can Help Prevent Legionnaires

While stopping the spread of COVID-19 is top of mind for many around the world, there are a number of other health threats that can stem from the pandemic period. For example, between shutdowns and social distancing orders, regular property maintenance may fall to the wayside, leaving spaces vulnerable to disease that can fester in the meantime.

As one example, during late September 2020, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released a bulletin that warned premises newly opening or re-opening after COVID-19 related lockdowns would need to be assessed for Legionella risk. For background, Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection caused by legionella bacteria; it can kill an estimated 10% of those who contract it through complications associated with the infection. Unlike COVID-19, which is airborne, legionella bacteria are commonly found in water. The bulletin states, “If your building has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.”

To make these preventative obligations more manageable, property managers can harness the power of the Internet of Things, or IoT. The IoT is a defined network of devises, such as temperature sensors, connected through software so that those devices can exchange data with one another, with that data filtered into an operator’s main dashboard. By deploying a network of connected devices instead of standalone units, operators can maintain insights into a variety of locations for whichever variables they intend to measure, such as water temperature.

IoT-connected temperature sensors, when attached to flow and return lines in hot water systems, can monitor the status of pipework, an installation and an entire premise in real time. Should water drop to low, or risky, levels or temperatures, connected alarms can be configured in smart monitored- and IoT-powered systems to instantly alert facilities managers that action needs to be taken.

When these sensors are connected to a network like 0G (a low-power, wide-area network that can transfer small amounts of data across long ranges), property managers can maintain continuous insights into water quality in a cost-efficient way and be notified of disturbances in real time. Easy to deploy and maintain, sensors and networks perform previously labor-intensive testing and measuring work and provide reliable analyses of probable risks present, allowing managers to safely and effectively monitor multiple properties at once.

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