Feature Story

How cities can learn from a start-up

How cities can learn from a start-up

Yodit Stanton, co-founder of OpenSensors, a start-up that helps companies choose, install, and analyze sensors and data, shares how cities can apply similar principles to improve the lives of its citizens.

This is a guest post by Yodit Stanton, the co-founder of OpenSources

Offices and cities are changing and are adopting new smart solutions to better manage resources, improve the quality of life and reduce operating expenses in a sustainable way. The next-generation of office buildings is more connected than ever with the means to measure a variety of different data ranging from desk utilization, footfall, noise, light to air quality sensors.

Cities are also changing and being increasingly better connected with smart parking and community air quality networks increasingly being deployed.

Leaner and Greener

Driven to reduce office space cost, companies are leveraging ‘work from home flexibility' and moving to flexible and open desk seating. Desk occupancy sensors, meeting room utilisation sensors, footfall, and environmental sensors (noise, lighting, air quality) are removing the guesswork from space planning and allow for data-driven decisions and comprehensive streamlined planning.

Cities as well as offices, are changing. By leveraging community-based air quality monitor networks and smart parking systems cities are trying to offer improved services to their residents.

OpenSensors operates the world's largest repository of air quality data. Additionally, this air quality data is being used internationally by companies to help create and maintain healthier buildings as companies adopt the WELL building standard. Air quality data is combined with data from existing building management systems and occupancy data for a full view of what is happening.  

See also: Fighting pollution takes flight 

Lessons learned

Currently, OpenSensors process more than 10 million sensor messages per day from customers in Europe and North America. Here are some of the lessons learned deploying and integrating smart devices.  

Phased approach to adding sensors

Successful projects use a phased approach, from proof of concept to full-scale deployment, to reduce the time to go live and minimize risk. We start small and slowly build up after going through a total of four phases, before undergoing a full deployment. This idea can also work with cities that are using new technologies.

Operational dashboards

Data is most useful when overlaid with a visualization layer like a map, floorplan or historical trend lines. Domain experts such as interior designers and facilities managers in buildings take action on these recommendations. In cities, we see data from air quality, parking and other sensors enabling city designers to do the same.

Critical to deployment and maintenance are the operational dashboards that monitor the network health and installation process. The OpenSensors team works closely with facilities managers, training them to install as well as manage the sensor networks.

Multi-disciplinary team

Much of our deployment success is due to our multi-disciplinary team of domain experts: facilities managers, interior designers, city designers, network engineers, installers, hardware engineers, data analysts, software engineers and project managers.

See also: Air quality and the Internet of Things

The multi-disciplinary team is responsible for the project management implementation process, developing the detailed project plan, and developing widespread support. Much of the project happens in phases. For example, get a floor working before focusing on an entire building. The same concept can work in a city, working on specific streets or neighborhoods, before a full citywide deployment.  


Cities and office buildings are changing at a rapid pace. Increasingly cities are using new technology like environmental sensors (noise, lighting, air quality) and parking sensors to better service residents, ensure a healthy living area and reduce cost.  Office building are using occupancy sensors, meeting room utilisation sensors, footfall, and environmental sensors to better manage their resources. The new technologies are being blended with existing infrastructure requiring a new set of best practices to leverage the real-time insights.  

About OpenSensors

Our company is built around and dedicated to enabling our customers to easily manage and understand data from sensors. With experience in helping more than 100 companies to combine data from smart sensors seamlessly, interoperating it with existing systems, we are helping to build the next generation of smart building and cities.

We currently process more than 10 million sensor messages per day from customers in Europe and North America alone! We are the world's largest repository of air quality data. The strength of our organisation is our multi-discipline team.              

Additional Resources

Lessons Learned from First Generation IoT Installations: http://blog.opensensors.io/blog/2016/09/09/lessons-learned-from-first-generation-iot-installations/

Path to Smart Buildings http://blog.opensensors.io/blog/2016/10/05/path-to-smart-buildings-2/


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