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How to measure occupancy in your building?

June 24th, 2024 | 10 min. read

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SQUARE SENSE

Square Sense is the leading PropTech shaping the digital transformation of real estate asset management

Occupancy sensors have become a vital component of modern real estate management, providing crucial data that enhances space utilization, operational efficiency, and environmental performance. These sensors enable informed decision-making and promote stakeholder collaboration. By measuring occupancy, both financial and non-financial performance of assets can be improved, addressing challenges such as the current occupancy crisis.

This article explores the different types of occupancy sensors available on the market, their benefits, and how to choose the right one for your needs. Tracking occupancy offers several advantages, including optimizing space usage by repurposing empty rooms and saving energy by adjusting heating, cooling, and lighting based on room occupancy, thus reducing costs

Advanced technologies today provide accurate, real-time occupancy data, enabling building managers to make decisions that enhance building efficiency and effectiveness. At Square Sense, we help you implement the right sensor strategy to measure occupancy. We offer sensors from selected suppliers, customized to your asset’s plan, with installation and configuration typically completed within three months—making us one of the fastest in the market.

1. Context
2. Factors of comparison
3. Type of sensors
4. Sensors comparison
5. What solution should you choose

1. Context

What are occupancy sensors?

Occupancy sensors detect the presence of people in a specific area, providing data on occupancy, number of people, and duration of stay. They use various technologies to gather this information.

What Is occupancy?

Occupancy refers to the presence of people in a space, expressed as a people count (absolute value) or capacity (percentage of people present vs. maximum capacity).
2. Factors of comparison

When choosing the right occupancy sensor, several factors need to be considered. Understanding these aspects will help you select the best sensor for your specific needs.

Costs
It varies significantly depending on the sensors chosen. Balancing initial investment with long-term benefits is crucial. Higher-cost sensors may offer better accuracy and functionality, leading to greater savings and efficiency. More affordable sensors may suit basic applications or budget-friendly large-scale deployments.
Installation
Installation complexity affects setup cost and feasibility. Some sensors are easy to install, while others require professional installation and integration with existing systems. Considering installation ease helps select a sensor that fits the project’s practical constraints.
Processing
Processing capability affects how easily sensor data can be analyzed and used. Some sensors need minimal processing, offering simple information, while others require advanced processing for complex data. The processing needs should match the building’s management system and team resources for smooth operation and data utilization.
Precision
Accuracy is crucial for reliable occupancy detection, and not all sensors deliver the same results. Depending on your objective, you may need high-accuracy sensors to precisely determine occupant presence and count. Choosing a sensor that accurately detects occupancy without frequent false positives or negatives is essential for effective space management.
Actionability
Some sensors provide data that, without context, can’t be exploited due to reliability issues or limited scope. Placement also affects data usefulness. Sensors with high actionability deliver data that can be easily analyzed for decision-making. Choosing such sensors maximizes your investment’s value.
Considering these factors helps you choose the best occupancy sensor, ensuring a balance between functionality and practicality.
3. Type of sensors
Occupancy sensors come in various types, each utilizing different technologies to detect the presence of people. These sensors can be broadly categorized into several main types. Understanding these categories will help you choose the most suitable sensor for your needs.
Connection Sensors
They track devices connected to a WiFi network and are useful in areas where people frequently connect their devices to access the internet, such as offices or public spaces.
WiFi

Bluetooth sensors identify devices with Bluetooth enabled. They are often used in smaller spaces or for more precise tracking, as Bluetooth signals have a shorter range than WiFi.

Bluetooth
They track Bluetooth-enabled devices and are often used in smaller spaces or for more precise tracking, as Bluetooth signals have a shorter range than WiFi.
Proximity Sensors
They use wave-based technology to detect motion near the sensor. Similar to sonars, they emit a signal, analyze its reflection, and react to any interference.
Infrared
They emit infrared light. Commonly used in lighting systems, these sensors are effective in spaces with clear lines of sight.
Ultrasonic
They emit ultrasounds. Effective in environments with obstacles, these sensors detect motion indirectly by bouncing sound waves off objects.
Microwave
They emit microwaves. These sensors can penetrate most materials, making them suitable for detecting motion through walls or other obstacles.
Optical sensors
They convert light into analog data using imaging technology. AI-enabled sensors then use advanced machine learning algorithms and feedback mechanisms for detailed and accurate classification.
Image
They use cameras and image processing software to distinguish between different objects and people.
Thermal
They detect heat to create thermal images, identifying bodies effectively in low-light conditions. They provide accurate data without capturing detailed visuals, addressing privacy concerns.
4. Sensors comparison
5. What solution is the right one for your needs?

Choosing the right occupancy sensors for your workplace can be challenging, requiring time, money, and a long-term commitment. It’s important to select the right technology and consider future needs. At Square Sense, we can help you find the best solution for your unique needs, making the process easier and smarter.

Here’s what to consider for your occupancy sensor strategy:

Which sensor to choose?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer; it depends on your assets, organization, infrastructure, and needs. At Square Sense, we combine the best technical options to create an optimal strategy. By considering accuracy, cost, installation complexity, and processing requirements, we design affordable, precise solutions for effective real estate asset management. While optical sensors are highly effective, we often use a combination of sensors for quick, smooth, and cost-effective installation, ensuring accurate and reliable data collection.
Situations for which you should choose connection’s sensors

Connection sensors like WiFi tracking are useful for small to medium organizations with limited budgets and basic infrastructure.

 Consider this option if:

  • ▸ Your workplace is not densely populated
  • ▸ You want to equip only a few assets
  • ▸ You have data scientists to interpret the data
  • ▸ There are a limited number of individuals on-site
  • ▸  You are mainly interested in tracking attendance

Situations for which you should choose proximity’s sensors

Proximity sensors are ideal for cost-effective, straightforward occupancy tracking.

Consider these sensors if:

  • ▸ You need quick and easy installation
  • ▸ You prefer affordable solutions
  • ▸ You want to improve comfort and energy consumption within a specific area

Situations for which you should choose optical sensors

These sensors are ideal for large, complex organizations seeking precise, actionable insights.

Consider these sensors if:

  • ▸ You have a large real estate portfolio
  • ▸ You have a huge workforce
  • ▸ Individuals follow an in-office or hybrid setup
  • ▸ You want to optimize space utilization

Square Sense has honed its expertise in monitoring occupancy for our customers.

For inquiries about specific use cases or projects, contact us we will help you find the best technology for your needs.

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