Reinvent, is the key-word during the pandemic

Ganesh L Khanolkar

WHILE everybody is affected because of the current pandemic, every crisis comes with growth opportunities and mechanisms to overcome challenges. We have to be sharper, creative and efficient than before, said Ganesh L Khanolkar, Director Operations, Netix Controls India in an exclusive interview with TechTrail.


How does the product/service portfolio of Netix align with specific challenges and issues during the current pandemic?

WHO, ISHRAE, ASHRAE and REHVA have in their communication released the importance of good respiratory hygiene in HVAC. We can use our range of smart sensors to measure and monitor PM2.5, VOC, IAQ, CO2, RH and Temperature. ISHRAE, ASHRAEand REHVA have mentioned that the optimal humidity and temperature for our conditions in India as follows: Relative Humidity: 40 per cent to 70 per cent RH, Temperature: Higher the Better > 24 Deg C. These conditions reduce the possibility of the virus surviving and traveling in the air. 

By integrating data from existing Systems like occupancy sensor, access control data, CCTV data and Temperature Sensors from BMS, we are able to use IoT Platforms to Create a Heat Map of the facility which would give a bird’s eye view to Building and facility managers on the most used and densely populated spaces in the office building.

By integrating the video analytics data from CCTV systems we can ensure that people are wearing basic personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining a distance of two meters and we can also check if the people are queuing properly or crowding in areas.

Using these system along with AI and ML 

Elevators is a Space where one cannot easily practice Social Distancing. We would have to club technology with a SOP to create a sustainable solution in an elevator. For example, we can use floor markers which mark the number of people that can stand in an elevator and the markers can be placed such that everyone faces the elevator walls. We can also integrate the CCTV people count feature such that the elevator will not permit more than the specified number of people to ride in an elevator. 

What is your key business development strategy for expansion in India in view of the pandemic?

The entire courses of life have changed during, and also post Covid-19. While everybody is affected because of the current pandemic, every crisis comes with growth opportunities and a mechanisms to overcome challenges. We have to be sharper, creative and efficient than before. In line with this, we are going to respond to the current crisis/pandemic and will be more assertive than ever. We are using this time of pandemic to get more closure to our customers through various virtual meetings, that involves trainings, product presentations, project designing with value engineered solutions and submittals. The idea is to provide more content. This way we are building trust, connect with our customers leading to increase brand awareness. We are investing a lot in content marketing, as many people/customers are doing their research on products and services online before they contact the manufacturers/suppliers. During current scenario it is important to understand the industry pains and reinvent ourselves for the future. With Netix iIBMS we are well ahead of the requirements during and post pandemic with unique features we have on board with us. Managed services will be the major focus post pandemic and with Netix IoT Platform having the capability of integrating and dash boarding all the information from various sub systems and BMS platforms, we will be able to carry out the responsibility of maintaining and anticipating need for a range of processes and functions in order to improve operations and cut expenses.

How can technology help building and building owners in remote monitoring, during the post lockdown management?

COVID has taught everyone a new way of life and has made working remotely a 100 per cent viable option. With social distancing playing an important role, we see that IoT based remote support, remote analytics and remote troubleshooting is possible.

Our IoT Platform has the capability of integrating and dash boarding all the information from various sub systems and BMS platforms. This makes the implementation affordable and easily implementable.

Desk occupancy sensors can now be used to practice social distancing. In most offices where open seating formats are common, the use of these desk occupancy sensors will ensure a mandatory social distancing. Integrated with desk booking systems the use of these sensors can further enhance energy optimisation by allocating space based on occupancy.

As meeting rooms will become hotspots where social distancing will be difficult to practice, the meeting room management solution will bring the discipline in common area usage. Integrated with access control and building management systems, we can also ensure that the number of people permitted in the meeting room is within the prescribed numbers of social distancing. We can also integrate the usage with our FM Suite to ensure that the rooms are sanitised properly after every meeting is over. Logical for facilities with large number of meeting spaces.

By integrating a “maximum number of people per zone” coupled with anti-pass back feature of access control systems, it is now very easy for you to identify the number of people on the floor, zone, or area. Using this logic, you can dynamically prohibit any further access to the area unless others exit. By integrating this data with BMS we can also ensure energy optimisation. This may work well for organisations who have dedicated areas for dedicated people or dedicated teams. 

What measures should building owners take to adopt such technology? What are the consequences of failure in adopting them?

Rapid Technology developments during Covid, have saved lives and has kept economies going. The key word during this period is “Reinvent”. Besides physical infrastructure it is important to adopt digital infrastructure rapidly. The building owners who will develop and maintain robust and resilient networks will open door to new economic opportunities, cost efficiencies and improved quality of life for residents/occupants. To survive, every business in the world will need to be a technology company, hence for a building owner to sustain will have to adopt such technology quickly and smartly. For the building owner the cyber resilience will be more important than ever as everything switch’s to distributed and networked operating models. Adopting newer technologies will only help to manage daily life, sustain basic services and combat the pandemic spread or resurgence. Building owner should actively collaborate with leading technology companies, policy makers, dynamic start-ups, business organisations, civil society and regulators to develop and test the policy norms and get into partnership to stimulate the potential of technology to deliver rapid growth for a sustainable and positive impact for all. We cannot fail on adopting the newer technologies, as the benefits are enormous for a newer world post Covid-19 which will promise an improved healthcare with better environmental, educational and economic outcomes for all.

Who are the various stake holders that Netix partners with to deploy their solution. What are the challenges they face as a result of increasing sophistication of facilities management (due to rising need for ‘enhanced customer experience’)?

We work with end clients that include commercial real estate developers, IT/ ITES Companies, the BFSI sector, major infrastructure projects and industrial sector to deploy our solutions. The major challenge is that every client has a different use case and they keep evolving over time so there cannot be a completely off the shelf solution approach. We solve this challenge as NETIX Controls since we have a very strong framework that is flexible for deployment and helps us to meet the requirement of our customers ever evolving use cases.

What is the Future of the commercial real estate industry in India? Do you think the role of FM has evolved and become critical to survive among the current crisis?

Housing sales reached above 2.5 lakh units in 2019 across major cities. Indian real estate sector has witnessed high growth in the recent times before Covid, with rise in demand for office as well as residential spaces. Real estate attracted enormous investments in 2019. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated demand for houses in tier II and III cities due to reverse migration. In a post-Covid era, there is a rise in trend among homebuyers to build a lifestyle away from the hustle of a metropolitan yet offering all the amenities of advancing cities.

The facility management software holds a major share of the BMS market and is further growing. However during the current crisis, the role of FM will further evolve. The straight forward strategies would be to focus on safety and hygiene driven by smart technologies providing more sophistication in FM. The FM will no longer be just a service provider but will have to develop culture based on hygienic and safer work practices besides providing technology and analytics. Digitisation and AI will be the major focus during current crisis. There will be further more collaboration between FM providers and clients to improve workplace experience by using latest smart technologies and undertake health and wellness initiatives.

What is the future for fresh civil engineering graduates? Our parent company, CRB Tech, has been involved in upskilling fresh engineering graduates to suit the needs of the industry. What kind of additional skills will fresh graduates have to acquire?

Civil engineer students are not the right candidate for Netix iIBMS domain. However, if the candidates possess the below skillsets, he/she can still prosper;

  • Tech Savvy
  • Vulnerability assessment skills (Hardware, Software security and Data Security skills)
  • Networking expertise
  • Analytics and Data Science expertise
  • Understanding of OT and IT
  • Mobile App friendly 
  • A good learner as this will be a never ending process with newer developments everyday
  • Team Man as this domain involves lot of coordination and teamwork
  • Leadership and business acumen

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