5 minutes with Roger Nolan from Infogrid

AI Magazine speaks to Roger Nolan, Intogrid's Chief Technology Officer about the company and its use of AI within smart buildings

Can you tell me about Infogrid?

Infogrid collects and analyses a range of building data points to help businesses meet sustainability targets, reduce costs and improve employee productivity and well-being. It’s an AI-powered smart building platform that automates time intensive building and compliance tasks, providing facilities managers with the data and analytics they need to make positive changes to their building’s internal environment. 

What is your role and responsibilities at the company?

I am Chief Technology Officer at Infogrid; in short, that means I am responsible for managing the team of engineers that build the machine learning algorithms fuelling Infogrid’s smart building platform. Essentially, data is at the heart of everything Infogrid does and it is my job to collect and understand it: from the automation of safety system checks to office occupation patterns.

How does the company utilise AI to create a healthy work environment?

Air quality has been the unseen enemy of the healthy workplace for quite some time, but awareness of this problem has only become more mainstream in the wake of the pandemic. High CO2 levels negatively impact productivity with employees taking up to 60% longer to complete tasks, and more recently, we have seen that the increased fear around virus transmission can lead to staff anxiety and poor mental health. Our sensor technology is underpinned by advanced artificial intelligence that detects these barriers to a healthy work environment and then acts accordingly: heat sensors allow us to understand temperature distribution and adjust office cooling systems and occupancy levels while air quality monitors enable us to assess virus risk and identify high transmission areas. Air quality can fluctuate in an office, yet many employees are not aware of its impact on their health and quality of work. Our ML algorithms can provide the insight on the office environment necessary to enable organisations to respond to these changing demands so employees don’t have to suffer from poor air quality and are healthier and happier as a result. 

Why do you think AI is a crucial tool in the development of smart building platforms?

Collecting workplace environment data is only the first building block, if you cannot analyse it and turn it into actionable insights then there is not much point in having it in the first place. AI does just this, it makes building platforms smart. Without it, our sensors will just collect hundreds of single data points that don’t make a lot of sense on their own. Over time, AI will enable the smart building platform to learn how to react to varied building scenarios and reduce the need for human intervention. For example, it can predict when equipment needs maintenance checks based on its performance; it can react to occupancy in buildings and control office heating to avoid wastage. Essentially, it drives buildings to continuously perform at optimal efficiency.

What can we expect from Infogrid in the future?

Our wider mission is to have a lasting impact not just on the healthiness of buildings and the people within it but the planet also. Buildings are responsible for a staggering 39% of all carbon emissions and 10% of the UK’s electricity usage comes from just the running of air conditioning units. We know that by optimising a building’s performance we can drastically reduce that number. The future of Infogrid will see us move from a platform beyond just collecting, analysing and making recommendations. We want to be able to automatically control the lighting or air conditioning within a building to ensure it's optimised for human comfort and sustainability.



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