The coronavirus has turned the world upside down. As the World Economic Forum recently pointed out to major hospitality brands, “Prior to COVID-19, you were a hotel company that had safety protocols. Today, you are a safety company that has hotels.”
Such dramatic business transformations have not been limited to hotels. The global pandemic has challenged just about every industry, from airlines, restaurants, and healthcare organizations to manufacturers and close-contact service providers. What have we learned? An effective response to the virus demands speed, innovation, and collaboration.
Consider one unique solution that sprang up after the virus hit Europe: Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA), unveiled last March by the Italian architect Carlo Ratti. This innovative initiative has gathered a sizeable international taskforce of multi-disciplined experts who collectively worked on an open-source design that converts containers into intensive care units (ICUs) to enable hospitals to respond quickly to massive influxes of patients. I’m proud to say that Schneider Electric was part of the team that helped create these temporary healthcare facilities. The CURA design has since become a model for many temporary ICUs worldwide.
Driving open innovation for buildings and homes
Two years prior to the pandemic, in the spirit of collaboration and open innovation, Schneider Electric, Danfoss, and Somfy created the Connectivity Ecosystem. As a one-stop resource, our partnership is committed to accelerating the adoption of connectivity in buildings and homes through the development and delivery of efficient smart solutions that integrate with ease and work simply.
Connectivity platforms vary widely, which makes getting them to work together challenging and sometimes impossible. To achieve seamless interoperability among diverse components, the Connectivity Ecosystem has built technology know-how that incorporates all major communications protocols and is compatible with all emerging user interfaces and voice controllers.
Following the creation of the Connectivity Ecosystem in 2018, we had the pleasure recently of announcing that ASSA ABLOY was joining and strengthening our partnership. The ASSA ABLOY Group is the global leader in access solutions, offering products and services related to openings, such as locks, doors, gates, and entrance automation solutions. The company’s expertise also includes controlling identities with keys, cards, tags, mobile, and biometric identity verification systems.
With the addition of ASSA ABLOY, the Connectivity Ecosystem is reinforcing the safety and security of assets and data as key components of connectivity ecosystems while continuing to accelerate the adoption of connectivity in residences, mid-size buildings, and hotels.
Responding to COVID-19
When COVID-19 forced our planet to pause, it taught us valuable lessons. For example, stay-at-home orders and travel bans reduced air and ground transportation, resulting in improved air quality, especially in urban areas. We should draw inspiration from this positive outcome amid the crisis and, moving forward, strive as businesses to find new ways to limit our impact on the planet. We believe now is the time for all of us to strengthen our climate commitment.
Over the past two years, our partnership has proven that our solutions work simply together to optimize energy use in the hospitality and housing markets. And just as the Connectivity Ecosystem has driven collaborative innovation to accelerate digitalization and advance the fight against climate change, it is now tackling challenges unleashed by COVID-19. By devising new and creative ways to adapt to the “new normal,” we’re enabling people to get back to living their lives while protecting them and their loved ones until an effective vaccine is made available.
Helping hotels welcome guests back
COVID-19 has been particularly challenging for the hospitality industry. As of June 10, 2020, nearly 6 out of 10 rooms at open hotels in the United States were empty, in addition to the thousands of hotels that were shuttered completely. We are encouraged to see that hotels are now re-opening, with guests returning, even though hospitality professionals are having to adopt strong new safety measures. To help them gear up, the Connectivity Ecosystem is providing innovative solutions that can be quickly deployed, including the following:
- Enabling mobile check-in via a smart phone app so guests can avoid physical contact with any surface outside of their room
- Allowing voice control of heating, cooling, lighting, and window shades
- Specifying that all room-control switches be made from anti-bacterial material
- Optimizing HVAC control to:
- Deliver optimal humidity levels and meet recommended healthy building ranges prescribed by ASHRA and EPA
- Confirm adequate air circulation throughout building and monitor CO2 and VoC levels
- Ensure adequate cleaning through indirect VoC monitoring
- In addition to existing cleaning and disinfecting programs, employing UV lighting for on-demand sterilization of guest rooms, elevators, restrooms, break rooms, and other high-traffic, high-touch areas
- Sanitizing HVAC coils with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to kill algae, mold, pathogens, and biofilm
Driving connectivity today and in the future
With the combined expertise and resources of our major-brand partners, now bolstered by the welcome addition of ASSA ABLOY, the Connectivity Ecosystem is poised to boost the adoption of connectivity technologies and enhance the living and working experiences of people everywhere. In addition, amid the current pandemic, we are leveraging our connectivity solutions and expertise to help businesses adapt to new operational requirements to ensure the safety of their employees, customers, and vendors. We are committed to learning from the significant challenges the world faces today and will use our newfound knowledge to help create a better future.
Learn more about the Connectivity Ecosystem.