Vodafone HQ is our network's nerve centre, which is why it's the perfect place to trial some of of the most futuristic office technology in the world...

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You’d probably expect Vodafone HQ to be a bit swish, but you might be surprised by just how rooted in tomorrow it actually is. The campus, which is comprised of seven purpose-made buildings, is a haven for futuristic technology, and it’s where we trial some of the sci-fi tech that helps us stay safe, efficient and green.

Brendan Ludden is part of Vodafone’s in-house innovation team, and it’s their job to tinker and play with experimental solutions to problems you might not even think exist. And when you do that, you can often create some really incredible technology. There’s some amazing stuff happening behind the scenes here, so we went on a mini tour with Brendan to shed some light on the true power of connected, aware, smart buildings.

The smarter way to be green

“It’s really cool stuff,” Brendan says, showing us through some of the countless pieces of data that Vodafone HQ racks up on a daily basis, before settling on one graphic. “What we’re looking at here is the last 24 hours in terms of electricity, gas, water and CO2 emissions in Vodafone House, probably the busiest building on the campus.”

The screen is awash with dials and charts that track every aspect of each one of the seven buildings that make up the campus, with information feeding in from a plethora of thermometers, barometers, gauges and phone data. Vodafone House is just one such building, but here Brendan’s managed to drill down to see data for not just specific floor, but specific areas within those floors.

 

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“If you look at this data over time you can see how your facility is used, and that’s really useful,” he explains. How? By finding invisible issues: several of Vodafone’s buildings are nestled around a small lake, and Brendan tells us it was silently causing a problem until the smart building tech came into play:

“We spotted a leak in the lake. The drains from Faraday House were topping up the lake but it had a leak. We were tracking all the water usage, and saw that all the buildings had a normal amount of water, but that Faraday’s was much higher. They figured out it was continually topping up the levels.

“Another thing we found was that in one area the central heating was kicking in and an hour later the air conditioning would start – so it was heating up and then cooling down, which wasn’t the most efficient energy use! That’s something you can track and change and it helps Vodafone to become more green.”

But it’s not just Vodafone’s offices that could feel the benefit of this research. The team’s tech could eventually find its way into any big business building where staying environmentally friendly is a real must. “It’ll help any business with a property, that wants to save money and become more energy efficient,” he says.

Your vital statistics

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Measuring the use of utilities is one thing, but another important aspect, and where things get really smart, is the ability to track Vodafone HQ’s over 4000 employees and guests – and use that to change the way we run the campus.

“We have an occupancy monitoring system online. It works to see where you are based on your phone signal,” Brendan explains.

“We can see everybody in the building, and differentiate between visitors and site workers.”

Ok, so what does that mean? “We can see everybody in the building, and differentiate between visitors and site workers. It shows you how occupancy varies over time. And you can drill down to, say, the second floor where we are now.” Brendan shows us a plan of the building with graphs and head count. “You can see it’s busier over there, quieter over there…

“By monitoring this, we’re learning what it means for occupancy. On a Friday it’s more quiet, for example, so why would we heat everywhere up? Why not consider closing a floor once a week? Or turn the heating down and save the planet a bit? They’re the kind of things you learn from this. You just monitor it and change the way you do things.”

 

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“We collect data from the whole campus every day now,” he explains. “When you combine occupancy monitoring and the energy usage stats, you’ve really got everything in one pot. It’s all just data, and lots of it,” Brendan says, “but the key is to pull that into a form that’ll help us make better decisions.”

There’s so much more: This is just one side of the smart buildings story at Vodafone HQ, and how it’s shaping our future technologies. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what Brendan’s working on with his team, so make sure you keep it locked to Vodafone Social for much more from the office of tomorrow.