With infection control a top priority in the healthcare and public sectors, Sontay, a leading manufacturer of smart sensing devices, is predicting that the Government will be drafting new legislation around mitigating the spread of infection in these settings in the very near future.

Stacey Lucas, Commercial and Marketing Director at Sontay, said: “Building Managers, specifiers, architects, engineers, and designers are beginning to understand the vital role sensors can play in managing the spread of infection in the built environment. It will come as no surprise to us if the Government specify the use of sensors in public buildings to mitigate the risk of infections spreading. These smart buildings will revolutionise the way infection control is maintained.”

To reduce the occurrence of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), the Department of Health and Social Care states that it is imperative that infection prevention and control (IPC) measures are ‘designed-in’ by those involved in the delivery of new and refurbished healthcare facilities. Designed-in IPC means that anyone involved in delivery of a facility from the architect to the facilities manager, needs to work collaboratively with IPC teams, healthcare staff and users to deliver facilities in which IPC needs have been anticipated, planned for, and met.

“By specifying the use of sensors, IPC teams can be confident that the risk of infections spreading has been mitigated in their buildings. However, sensors can play a role not just in new and refurbished healthcare settings, they can be easily retrofitted bringing older healthcare settings quickly up to standard. Thankfully, there is a myriad of sensors available to ensure buildings are comfortable and safe for occupants.” Stacey explains.

As well as CO2 sensors, there are PM 2.5 sensors, which measure the amount of particulate matter in the air. Studies have shown that bacteria and viruses can piggyback particulate matter. Another type of sensor that is in demand is the relative humidity (RH) sensor. Bacteria can develop in environments where there is a lot of moisture. Humid conditions are therefore the perfect setting for bacteria to multiply. Studies show that when cold, dry air is warmed once indoors, relative humidity drops by 20%. Such a decrease makes it easier for airborne particles, including viruses, to travel. Decreasing temperature and moisture (relative humidity), creates a less hospitable environment for microorganisms to grow.

“Sensors are truly revolutionising modern Building Management Systems (BMSs). They can measure, report and control a building’s environment round the clock, ensuring it is safe and comfortable for its occupants. As a result of this smart buildings revolution, we are seeing demand for sensors grow in other industry sectors too, including retail, hospitality and residential.” Stacey concludes.