System undergoing tests
Beringar sensor aims to boost NHS bed use
Mark Sorsa-Leslie: developing sensor technology
Technology that replaces traditional clipboards and registers is being used to help organisations make better use of space and facilities.
A wireless-based sensor accurately counts the number of people in a room, checks building occupancy levels and identifies trends in the way a building is used.
Edinburgh-based Beringar is working with CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, and says the technology can also measure temperature, record air quality and monitor CO2 levels.
It is being tested by the National Health Service and as the product is developed further it could be used to sense exactly which beds are vacant in a hospital in real time.
The NHS spends an estimated £30 billion every year managing its estates and facilities, but consultant-led studies suggest many of its buildings are being used to a fraction of their capacity. A recent trial of Beringar’s technology at the NHS’ Loxford Health Centre in Ilford, Essex confirmed this analysis.
Mark Sorsa-Leslie, co-founder of Beringar, said: “The NHS spends around a quarter of its budget every year on the provision and management of its buildings, but many rooms and equipment aren’t used to their full potential.
“The statistics show that there is a lot of free space in the NHS. Having the right data could reveal suitable space they already own in that location, saving a significant amount of money, which could be used to improve direct patient care.
“It has been said that in ten years’ time, London will have expanded by the equivalent of the city of Birmingham, and already, London’s population grows at twice the rate of the UK as a whole. Having access to data like this will be extremely important for the health service, as it responds to ever-growing demand.”
Carolyn Botfield, estates director at the NHS, said: “It’s important for us to identify where the NHS is adding value, and adapt our services to the requirements of the local community – over time, its needs change.
“Clinics are often block-booked, but we have no way of finding out if just a few people, or twenty patients, are attending every week. The sensor will allow us to achieve real-time feedback on how our buildings are being used, enabling us to make smarter decisions.”
Beringar was recently named among the first companies at CENSIS’s IoT Explorer, an accelerator programme for businesses looking to develop IoT-related products.
Dr Stephen Milne, business development manager at CENSIS, said: “Apart from traditional methods, such as clipboards and visitor registration books, property managers have had no real concrete evidence of how their buildings are being used day-to-day.
“Beringar’s device is changing that and presents the NHS, and potentially other organisations, with a suite of information to help them deliver a high-performing estate. This project underlines the positive impact the IoT can have, not only in business, but within the services people rely on.”