A person reading the top tech news

July 2021: Top Tech News

This month witnessed scorchingly high temperatures and an unfortunate low in the Euros final for the England team. On the 19th, of July 2021, almost all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. In our ever evolving technology industry, there have been innovations, progressive conversations, and unstoppable transformations. From sustainable solutions, PropTech, to social media, let’s take a look at this month’s top tech news.

1. IoT AI services are expected to generate £2.6 billion in revenue by 2026

This month, IoT Tech News reported Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning services within the Internet of Things (IoT) industry are growing by 40% annually. By 2026, they should reach £2.6 billion.

The IoT market has accelerated since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic. This is partly because people need solutions for remote asset management. Employers monitor their offices without needing to be present in the building. Homeowners use ‘predictive maintenance’ to proactively alert them when an issue arises with a home appliance. Early warning notifications prevent minor issues escalating into expensive repair jobs.

There have also been huge innovations in IoT AI services within healthcare as a reaction to the Covid19 pandemic. Every industry is seeing the potential in IoT AI services. Hospitals benefit from diagnostic accuracy with AI. Diagnostic accuracy ensures there’s no visual noise in scans. Patients are monitored remotely using IoT, which is especially effective for contagious conditions. IoT sensors are placed on chairs, beds, doorways to understand where the patients are and what space is available. The sensors constantly collect data that hospital staff can see on a clear dashboard.

Find out more about IoT.

A doctor checking his patients using IoT

2. Microsoft increase their sustainability commitment

Microsoft has high expectations for its sustainable impact. They aim to be carbon negative by 2030, meaning they intend to store more carbon dioxide than they emit. To achieve this, they have released a new strategy this month.

How sustainable is electricity?

Electricity is considered a clean form of energy when you ignore the generation and transmission of electricity. The electrons supplying the electricity need to be generated from zero-carbon energy sources. This includes wind and solar power. They are then stored and transported to where they are needed. The current issue is most electrons flowing onto grids are coming from carbon-intensive sources. This is compromising the sustainability of Microsoft. They need a new strategy to ensure they are carbon neutral by 2030.

The “grid” refers to substations, transformers, and power lines that connect electricity producers and consumers.

Microsoft changes how they buy renewable energy

Currently, Microsoft doesn’t run on renewable energy at all times. This is because their energy purchases don’t always come from sustainable energy grids.

The new goal is to ensure their clean energy purchases are feeding into local grids where it operates. They refer to this as 100/100/0; on all the world’s grids, 100% of the time, are generated from zero-carbon sources. Here in the UK, the same commitment is referred to as “Net Zero”. Many companies have already joined the fight to become Net Zero as quickly as possible to minimise the damage we are doing to our planet.

Microsoft will achieve this aspiration by using their influence. Already in the last year, Microsoft has signed new purchase agreements for renewable energy in 10 countries. They will be innovating their energy purchasing contracts to take away the high carbon intensity off the grid whilst bringing more zero-carbon energy onto the grid. As huge industry influencers that can create quite a buzz in their own right, Microsoft are sharing and promoting their efforts. By doing this, other companies will sit up, take notice, and do more to emulate their actions.

ITVET’s reaction

At ITVET, we are a Microsoft Gold Partner. We provide sustainable technical solutions and IT support. Therefore, we’re thrilled to hear about this tech news that Microsoft is increasing its sustainability commitment.

Find out more

carbon neutral electricity grids

3. Plastic bags are the solution for sand shortages

The need for technological solutions

The construction industry is responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world. We are building at an unprecedented rate. New sustainable solutions are needed desperately to reduce this percentage.

Sand is a raw material used in huge quantities in construction and manufacturing. It was reported this month, 40-50 billion tonnes of sand are used around the world annually. Sourcing sand can entail removing it from rivers which causes environmental damage. There is a huge sand shortage taking place. This shortage leaves many people jobless. In India, political intervention has previously been needed to assist in the sand shortage.

How plastic can be used

Research from Bath University demonstrated that wasted plastic could swap sand within concrete. Dr. John Orr, a lecturer in concrete structures, believes this innovation “saves the need for a huge amount of sand and helps to reduce the vast amount of plastic waste on India’s streets.”

Sand comprises around 25% of concrete. With a sand shortage, the construction industry suffers. 10% of that sand can be replaced with finely ground plastic particles. Using plastic doesn’t impact on the longevity of the concrete, and also provides a cheaper resource.

Read in more detail.

Construction workers using plastic in concrete

4. President Joe Biden comments on misinformation taking place on Facebook

The use and abuse of social media

Earlier this month, an administration report was circulated regarding online COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. It was published by the science journal, The Surgeon. It calls for a push to address vaccine and COVID-19 misinformation across all social media sites, predominantly Facebook. Companies are urged to redesign their algorithms to avoid further spread of misinformation. The Surgeon requested clear consequences for those who violate social media sites through misinformation.

The reaction of the White House

It was reported the majority of COVID-19 anti-vaccine misinformation originated from just 12 people. It then spiralled out of control. On this topic, Biden told reporters at the White House: “Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information.”

Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki provided further comment on the subject: “We’re not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We’re in a battle with the virus.”

The conversation of online misinformation and social media responsibility picked up momentum following the release of Netflix’s 2020 documentary, The Social Dilemma. The documentary and the COVID-19 pandemic misinformation are showing social media platforms are failing to responsibly regulate their sites. This month, the sites failed to regulate racist abuse targeted towards England’s football players. Which begs the question, how big of a part will social influence play in our lives moving forward?

The white house

5. UK scientists develop AI that detects sleep disorders

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can monitor snoring levels and diagnose sleep disorders. This technology is in the form of a simple to use app named SoundSleep.

Various sleep disorders, such as apnoea, are difficult to diagnose. A symptom of sleep apnoea is somebody’s breathing stops and starts. Getting a diagnosis of a sleep disorder can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It usually requires trips to specialist sleep clinics. Many people are undiagnosed and unaware of what solutions there are.

The app records the sounds you make whilst asleep and provides a daily report with solutions to help you. You can be accurately diagnosed with AI. The app invites you to log information about your lifestyle. It can inform you how to ease the symptoms of your sleep disorder.

Take a closer look.

The app SoundSleep working as someone is asleep

In this month, there were presidential intervention and AI-powered solutions. Want to keep up to date on top tech news? Why not follow us for regular updates?

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Press Release: Party in the Park to celebrate Bishop’s Stortford community heroes

ITVET are thrilled to announce the launch of ‘Stortford Heroes – Party in the Park.

On Saturday 23rd July 2022, Sworders Field, Bishop’s Stortford, will host a day of live music, local food vendors, and community stalls in recognition of our local heroes.

The event will be hosted in honour of the people who go above and beyond to serve our community. Giving thanks to our most deserving members, as well as raising awareness of those who are most vulnerable. 

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how much we depend on and need the support of people and organisations. Whether they are NHS workers, emergency services, caregivers, charitable organisations, or just everyday individuals who dedicate their time and resources to helping others. 

Richard Fountain, Managing Director at ITVET comments ”This event is set to be like no other. We see this as a true collaboration of our local community. Celebrating the organisations and people who give so much, but so often go unmentioned. This is their time to shine.” 

Richard continues ” This is a unique opportunity for everyone in our local community to come together and say a massive thank you! It really will be a day to remember.” 

‘Stortford Heroes – Party in the Park’ will serve as a true ‘Freepurposing’ example for the Bishop’s Stortford area. The event will rely on the kindness and generosity of local people and organisations to contribute and bring the event to life. 

ITVET has pledged a starting fund of £50,000, along with the resources and skills of their employees. Additionally, Bishop’s Stortford Town Council has also donated the use of the Sworders Field without charge. 

As an event that is not commercially motivated, we are now looking for local suppliers and businesses to sign up and contribute toward the day. We welcome all manner of skills, expertise, and donations. 

The event will be free to attend, with registration for suppliers and volunteers now open. If you would like to register your interest or would like further information, visit www.stortfordheroes.co.uk

Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest announcements and updates.  


Example of smart building energy efficiency

How retrofitted IoT sensors and data monitoring features create smart building energy efficiency

ITVET were founded with an eco-conscious purpose. We provide solutions that have a positive impact on our environment and local community. Smart building energy efficiency is one facet of our smart building expertise. When leveraged to its full potential, the ascension of technology can make a positive impact on our environment. We’re transforming our ITVET offices into energy efficient smart buildings by introducing a range of energy efficient IoT features. As specialists in smart building strategy, we retrofit older buildings to incorporate smart building features that support their sustainability goals. In this article, we look at why offices need to be revolutionised with smart energy management using IoT, and the changes ITVET is making to reduce our carbon footprint.

The need for energy efficient smart buildings

Analysing our energy usage is key to reducing the carbon footprint of our offices

Retrofitting smart IoT technology creates energy efficient smart buildings. According to the International Energy Agency, buildings are “accounting for more than 30% of global energy use today and 30% of energy-related CO2 emissions”. Retrofitting should be prioritised over new build projects. This reduces energy demand in the construction sector, an industry with an exponential carbon footprint.

The 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction notes electricity consumption in building operations represents nearly 55% of global electricity consumption. Every day actions from heating entire buildings to leaving screens on overnight, soon add up. Humans are inherently unreliable and forgetful creatures. This unreliability leads to careless waste of electric, water and many more of our planet’s precious resources. The inefficiencies of our manual processes wreak disastrous consequences on our planet.

Consequence of not utilising energy efficiency

Manual processes invite mistakes

It’s hard to set high standards for your office’s sustainability if you rely on human compliance. People frequently forget to switch off the heating, or an office light at the end of the day.

Office temperature is always a heated subject. There’s always that one colleague who feels the need to keep the air conditioning on ‘artic mode’. They turn it up high whilst their colleagues are sat shivering in their coats. They don’t consider how many people are in the office and what spaces are in occupation. With smart technology, you can ensure only the necessary parts of the office are heated up or cooled down. For example, if a few people are working overtime, the IoT sensors will detect their presence. The smart technology ensures perfect working conditions. There is no need to waste energy in parts of the office where no one is present.

Mistakes happen. Whether it’s leaving the light on in the bathroom, not closing the fridge or leaving the tap to drip. With smart building features retrofitted into traditional office infrastructure, human error is minimised.

The financial disadvantages of manual processes

Cooling an entire building uses a huge amount of energy. The Facilities Management Journal reported in January 2020 that “office buildings are losing £60m energy every year.” This energy could power over 100,000 homes.

Not only are office buildings haemorrhaging money, but they are also significantly contributing toward the effects of climate change.

Energy wastage in an empty office

IoT and energy efficiency

The Internet of Things (IoT) and energy efficiency go hand in hand. We are employing a range of IoT sensors and data monitoring features to our offices to improve our sustainability performance.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT means various objects are connected to the internet, enabling them to network and collect data from each other. The ‘IoT agenda’ describes IoT features as an ecosystem.’ This consists of “web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware, to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments.”

These features, and the data they collect, give you invaluable information about your building. They add functionality to the most mundane items such as bin wastage. For example, a sensor on a bin alerts you when it requires emptying. It logs the data it collects so you understand how much waste your company disposes of. Additionally, IoT brings protection to valuable equipment. For example, with IoT-enabled asset tracking you can locate stolen laptops that contain confidential information.

The capability of a robust IoT strategy

IoT is more than connected appliances. You can manage your building and permit smart building management using IoT. These features ensure our sustainability standards are met even from a remote location.

ITVET’s smart energy management using IoT

A building is considered sustainable if it conserves energy. Energy efficiency in smart buildings also improves employee wellbeing. Here are the smart features ITVET is introducing to our offices.

Building occupancy detection

There is no need to heat an entire building if there are empty rooms. To create the optimum working environment for your employees you need to know where they are. Manually, you monitor CCTV footage or walk around the office to gauge numbers and location. This disrupts your working day and it’s not an efficient process. Most importantly, this can’t be done if you’re out of the office.

IoT sensors detect the presence of people, known as ‘occupancy monitoring’. This is also referred to as ‘people counting’. It detects how many people are in a defined space. Sensors collect the data and an action is triggered. Mobile applications such as UltraHR can also map employee locations live in real-time.

Occupancy monitoring detects the movement of employees

Data triggers an action

Like many heating systems, the ITVET offices previously had just one main thermostat, with thermostatic valves at each radiator location. When nobody was working in a room, it still heated up, unless the individual radiators were manually switched off.

ITVET now ensure all employees are in a comfortable work environment, using IoT sensors to detect how many people are in a room and adjusting radiator heat accordingly.

IoT is now consistently used to collect room temperature, lighting, and ventilation data. This data is used to action triggers, such as automatically turning of any non-essential energy when employees leave for the day..

Consistency with a Building Management System

All of the features outlined above combine to become one BMS (Building Management System) . A modern BMS is an intelligent software platform that monitors the technical systems within a building. This controls temperature centrally. We set parameters to enable the smart management of our heaviest power usage systems. For example, one parameter could be for all lights to switch off when a door is locked each evening. It constantly monitors office activity around the clock to create the most energy efficient work environment. This provides huge savings and minimises energy waste.

Our BMS was designed and custom-made by our ITVET software development team. The custom features ensure it works efficiently for our office and it maximises cost and energy savings. There is a clear dashboard that shows us our energy usage at any time.

Metrics from ITVET's energy efficient BMS system

With our existing experience in the property management sector, our data experts can aggregate data from most systems into one central, usable console and data feed. Making your building’s data accessible is essential if you want to maximise the efficient use of power and utilities in your building

The wider impact of data metrics

With access to these data metrics, we can make more informed decisions. Are employees charging their devices longer than needed? Is the kettle overfilled to make one hot drink? IoT data can show all of this. The data helps us zero in on repeated unsustainable behaviours. We can communicate this with our team using metrics to understand how our actions affect energy usage. This in turn will help us apply sustainable practices at home.

ITVET is a company made up of eco-conscious individuals whose principles are equally balanced between home and work life. Smart building energy efficiency, using IoT features retrofitted in our head office, ensure we meet the high standards we set for ourselves. IoT devices constantly capture data that allows us to understand how our building is used. We can make responsible decisions with this information. We feel at peace knowing the BMS ensures energy is only used when it’s required.

How could IoT features optimise your workplace? Get in touch to find out!


Recap: ITVET Conqueror Everest challenge for our charity of the year

It was announced in May 2021 that Wiggly Willow is ITVET’s nominated charity of the year! Sitting in the heart of Bishop’s Stortford, Wiggly Willow are a café that delivers work experience and training for adults with special needs. At ITVET, we invest in our local community. We noticed the great work of the not-for-profit organisation Wiggly Willow and we wanted to say thank you. We provide full IT support for our charity of the year. This entails assisting them in creating a new website, sharing our digital skills, and providing network connectivity. We also fundraise in any way we can for the organisation. This takes us back to our June challenge.

Planning our challenge

As a team, we embarked on a walking challenge. We set our expectations high. Only one challenge matched these expectations. It had to be Mount Everest.

Mount Everest during a sun set

A reality check

With a global pandemic and work commitments standing in our way, we had to think outside of the box. While we wouldn’t reach the top of the world’s highest mountain in person, we could still walk the 8,849 m, virtually.

The Mount Everest virtual challenge

We used a challenge created by The Conqueror. The virtual app based challenge tracks the miles you rack up. Whether that’s from walking, cycling, or running. Each step was progress towards reaching the summit of the world’s highest peak.

The team could digitally see each other’s progress and locate their steps on the map of Everest. At the end of the challenge, everyone who completed the 40 miles was awarded a medal.

The Conqueror challenge medal

Setting off on June 1st

The sights of Everest vs home

Throughout the month of June, we pushed ourselves to meet our team target. During the journey, we explored the virtual surroundings of Everest on street view using The Conqueror app. Our team also got to explore new local routes as they clocked up their challenge steps. Whilst our local views didn’t match the Himalayan Mountain Range, there were still some amazing sights to be seen.

Sights from the charity walk

Teamwork

There was plenty of encouragement from our team during the challenge via Microsoft Teams. We encouraged our families, friends, and pets to join us on our walks. Our team shared screenshots when key milestones were hit.

A nostalgic experience

For one member of the team, this was a familiar experience. Our Senior Marketing Manager, Michelle (pictured below), had previously made the iconic journey to the base camp of Everest 16 years earlier.

Our Senior Marketing Manager at Everest base camp

Michelle enjoyed seeing her progress in street view of Everest and receiving postcards when she hit her milestones.

Postcards from the journey up Mount Everest

The results of our charity challenge

Impact on Wiggly Willow

The team raised £460 for the charity. This money will contribute toward the great service Wiggly Willow provides. Wiggly Willow is currently moving into bigger premises and increasing the support they give to members of the community. The money we raise over the year will help their great efforts.

Planting trees

The Conqueror virtual challenge app plants a tree for every 20% of the challenge completed. With 14 of us participating, our team have helped to plant 70 trees! This provided fantastic encouragement throughout the challenge. The Conqueror has already planted 450,000 trees since August 2020.

The environmental impact of the Conqueror challenge

This event was the first of many fundraising opportunities for our nominated charity of the year, Wiggly Willow. It was an enjoyable experience that brought our team together and pushed us to get outside and move. If you would like to contribute to our fundraising, you can do so here.

Notification the challenge is complete

people packing food tins in cardboard boxes

Press Release: ITVET gifts Bishop’s Stortford Food Bank IT support in their busiest year

ITVET has partnered with Bishop’s Stortford Food Bank to provide a laptop and IT support, during the Food Bank’s busiest year to date.

ITVET are a national technology and IT support provider with offices in Bishop’s Storford. ITVET have a  commitment to their local community to use technology to help people and enhance Bishop’s Stortford. They gifted the Food Bank IT Support and a laptop to show their appreciation for all the work they do to support the local community.

Bishop’s Stortford Food Bank provide food and care packages to people in the local community who may be dealing with a crisis, or just living on a stretched budget day-to-day. Managed by a Board of Trustees and a Coordinator, the Foodbank liaise with local agencies to understand how to allocate the food and care packages, and the quantities required. They deliver food twice a week to the most vulnerable people in the local community.

When the Covid19 pandemic struck, the Food Bank witnessed a 225% increase in people needing food and care packages. This increase was reflected in the time and resources required to ensure everyone received their care packages on time. Organisation is key to the coordination of the charity, which relies heavily on email communication and access to the internet to operate.

Hana Hainsby, the coordinator of Bishop’s Stortford Food Bank, was left in a crisis when her laptop stopped working last December. Hana uses this laptop every single day and she wouldn’t be able to do her job without it.

That’s when Jim Tatchell, who works for the Food Bank, first contacted ITVET back in December 2020. When Jim wanted IT advice regarding laptops, ITVET took the decision to gift the Food Bank a new laptop. This was then delivered and set up for the foodbank by the ITVET team, who also ensured the trustees of the charity had access to email to help with their communications.

The money saved by not having to invest vital funds into a new laptop has since been allocated toward more resources for the charity.

Hana Hainsby, the coordinator of the Food Bank, said: “I just want to say a huge thank you from myself, Pauline and the board of trustees from the Food Bank. The help we received from ITVET was above and beyond what we would expect, especially with the support in setting up the emails.”

Richard Fountain, CEO of ITVET, said: “We are blown away by the hard work and kindness of the Food Bank. They are a vital part of our local community. They have shown so much resilience and perseverance throughout the Covid19 pandemic. We are honoured to have the chance to help them and say thank you.”

Bishop’s Stortford Food Bank rely on both financial and food donations. If you’re able to help you can find out how on their website.


Phone downloading the Microsoft Teams app

ITVET digital transformation: What is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?

ITVET are migrating our phone systems to use Microsoft Teams direct routing. Being able to use Microsoft Teams for both internal and external calls will improve our team productivity, customer service, and overall efficiency. In this article, we look at what is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing and how the role of the phone moving forward is changing.

What is our Teams Migration Project?

Our Current Phone System

At ITVET, we are confident in our products, which is why we use the same phone systems that we deploy for our clients. Our current phone system was custom developed in-house and sits outside of the Microsoft Teams platform. While our current phone system supports external communications, Microsoft Teams acts as our primary tool for internal contact. Unifying these two communication methods will ultimately increase our productivity, efficiency, and sense of community.  

What is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing?

As part of our migration project, we are switching to Microsoft Teams Direct Routing. Microsoft Teams Direct Routing enables us to make phone calls, both internal and external, directly from the Teams platform. Teams will be used as our primary method for all communication and will eliminate the need for a separate telephony system. 

Why do we Need this Change?

We need to unify our communications into one service for consistent accountability and efficiency. We have a busy call centre department who capture and track our inbound IT support requests via telephone. They are the engine room of our company. Their efficient running is paramount to our customer satisfaction levels.  Leveraging Microsoft Teams for client-facing calls ensures that everyone who gets in touch with ITVET hears a friendly human voice from a member of our team. We want to give everyone who contacts us a positive and helpful user experience. Having our telephone system integrated into the Teams interface means everything is located in one single system. This unifies our information, boosting the efficiency of our customer service and call record tracking.  Delivering an accessible user-friendly service means we boost our rapport with our clients, delivering them slick, seamless support. Better customer satisfaction is one of many positive outcomes of switching to Teams as our phone system.

The Limitations of Separate Systems

Separate systems for our internal and external communications can increase points of failure and slow down productivity.

It makes it harder to keep track of who took which call and what was discussed in that phone call. It is time-consuming to keep up with this admin and there is room to make mistakes. Teams Direct Routing has the option to record and transcribe phone calls and voicemails for you, which our current phone system can’t do. Think about the time savings from instant notes created when the phone call has finished. We already use Teams for project management, video meetings, instant messaging, document management and much more. Why have a whole different system for phone calls? The way Teams is designed makes it easy to accomplish any task right within the software. By enabling you to perform a huge number of actions that are directly connected to contacts and people, Teams speeds up collaboration.

Calls can be made directly from contacts within your system with a touch of a button, or by using a dial pad on the screen to manually input the number. Using separate office telephones is now optional rather than compulsory. This tidies our desks and reduces future costs on replacement phones. Teams keeps a digital record of every phone call made. This makes administration and team management and tracking simple.

Moving Forward

This project will see ITVET work under one unified system for every form of communication. All verbal, video and written communication takes place on Teams. Teams Direct Routing enables us to connect our on-premise telephony infrastructure to Microsoft Teams.  It unifies communication making it ideal for remote workers.

Spider diagram of the benefits of migrating phone systems to Teams

Operate at the forefront of Digital Transformation

The Statistics

Microsoft Teams adoption rates have rapidly grown since the COVID-19 work at home directive. Many businesses already use Microsoft 365, so the decision to use Teams as their central communication tool is the next logical step. In the US alone, 91 of the 100 largest companies use Teams. In April 2020, 75 million people used Microsoft Teams.

Stats showing use of microsoft teams increase

Usability

These companies have taken note of the system’s efficiencies. At ITVET, we have benefited from Team’s user-friendly features. From the conversational channels and trusted data encryption, to video calls with the option to share your screen, files, or even a PowerPoint presentation.

The Future of Teams

Statistics indicate that the uptake of the Teams platform is likely to continue on its growth trajectory. Since January 2020, Microsoft saw a 500 per cent increase in usage of Teams meetings, calls, and conferences. To meet the needs of its growing user base, Microsoft continue to release exciting features and functionality as the Team platform grows. The architecture of the system invites collaboration and community, which ITVET are passionate about. Teams is a forward thinking development in how we now work, and we want to be part of this productive change.

Align with flexible workforce needs

The work environment has experienced rapid change and we require new systems to facilitate this change. Flexible work is the new normal, part-time hours and freelance work are on the rise, and business owners have reconsidered the purposes of their office estates. The Teams platform results in better productivity and quality of work thanks to its flexibility and adaptability.

How Working Practices are Evolving

The way we work today looks different to how we worked a decade ago and therefore we need new tools.

As the use of Teams has risen, the use of email has declined. People want fast and more informal communication rather than long email threads. It is easy to miss an important message in your inbox amongst spam emails.

People do not see the purpose of commuting for a meeting when it can take place online with the same amount of collaboration. Workers don’t want to sit all day in isolated office cubicles; they want open collaborative spaces that can be found online. At any point of the day, you can see the availability of your colleagues and give them a phone call from your screen.

Remote Work

Forbes states remote work is set to increase by 77% in the next 2 years. The tech transformation required to accommodate this statistic has got to start by simplifying our most powerful forms of communication.

With Teams Direct Routing, calls can be made on the go, which is perfect for remote workers. No personal phone numbers need to be used which maintains professionalism, values your privacy and preserves your work-life balance.

Smiling woman having sitting on the sofa having a web call on her laptop

Minimal disruption

It is important that our migration of phone systems is seamless. At ITVET, Technical Design Engineer Jacob Mansfield has project managed our Teams migration. He works with several departments that are heavy users of our phone system. He ensures that any changes to the phone system supports the way we work as a company with no interruption to our service. Our previous phone system gave us the flexibility offered by call routing. Teams’ features allow us to retain this flexibility and add many more.

Increase productivity and collaboration

We enrich our productivity with a standardised phone system. This standarisation aligns with new work habits of faster communication through instant messaging, and collaborative digital spaces.

Saving Time

Forrester Consulting conducted a study on the usage of Microsoft Teams and found businesses exponentially saved time without realising. By using Teams these organisations require fewer meetings with Teams in general. Their Teams communications were effective in providing collaboration and organisation. The results show nearly 90% of respondents indicated that their productivity increased when employees can message, share content, and manage projects from one platform. 

Voicemails, phone calls, and meetings are automatically transcribed. This saves needless admin time writing notes during a phone call and ensures you can fully concentrate on the call.  Call recordings, documents or transcripts can be shared with someone who couldn’t be present.

All the powerful features of Teams technology are wrapped into the phone system. Since we already use Microsoft applications, the efficiencies that are created compound themselves by using Teams as our phone system.

Using teams for all communications allows us to :

  • Make decisions faster
  • Save time by at least 15 minutes a day rather than switching between apps and systems. 
  • Avoid unnecessary trips to meet in person

Increased Cross-Geographical Collaboration

Collaboration processes are standardised in Teams which speeds up decisions. It is built right into Microsoft’s architecture, like its DNA. There is no need to be in a physical room to collaborate. Teams inform you of your clients’ time zones, so you know the best time to phone them. 

Animated image of a team sitting in an office video conferencing with work colleagues

Improved Work-Life Balance

Users’ wellbeing is improved when their work-life balance is prioritised. You can switch to out of office in one click. This ensures you won’t receive any more work notifications and phone calls once you’re switched off. Voicemail can be configured to kick in as soon as people stop working. This minimises direct phone calls to personal mobile phones during leisure time. Changing your availability also communicates to your colleagues when you’re free to communicate with them and critically, when you’re not.

Improving work-life balance results in more focus and productivity during working hours. With no notifications, you can switch off from work. The collaborative features in Teams engage your team with each other while working together seamlessly. Companies with highly engaged employees grow twice as fast as those with low engagement.

Merge business communication in to one unified system

A separate phone system to a video conferencing suite creates complexity.

The Microsoft Service Suite

The Teams phone system already sits in the Microsoft Service Suite. Microsoft’s Direct Call Routing turns the Microsoft Teams environment into a cloud-based phone system. You can call anyone, anywhere in the world directly with Teams.  ITVET retain all existing telephone numbers so the migration does not disrupt our service. It is familiar and efficient. Converging all the tools you use to one system is productive. When on a phone call you can send key documents over and discuss the document with a client. You can instant message colleagues during a phone call.

Greater transparency into business data

Call Tracking

With our old phone system, call history data needed to be retrieved manually, by asking people who had answered the call. Mistakes can easily be made when we obtain this information manually. Teams captures and records all this data automatically. The information is in the hands of the Managers that need it. Managers can see who phones in, who answers the phone, the length of the call, and relevant notes from the call all in one place.

Meet environmental commitments

Eco-Friendly Efficiency

The transcription feature of Teams ensures all relevant information is already captured. You don’t need to write down important information on post-it notes, notepads or scraps of paper. At ITVET, we’re making huge steps towards becoming paperless. This project helps towards our commitment in reducing environmental waste.

Unified communications on Teams ensures we collaborate with anyone, anywhere. There is no need for unnecessary trips to meetings with clients. We drive less, actively reducing our carbon footprint, lessening damage to our planet.

The way we now work is different. We require systems that align with our work habits. Emails are in decline, whilst verbal and video communication are on the rise. We’ve looked into what is Microsoft Teams Direct Routing. It’s clear we need the collaboration and efficiency that Microsoft Teams can offer for our  phone system. All our tools can be found on one screen on Teams. Are you ready to embrace more productivity and faster decision making? Get in touch to discuss any questions you have on how we can improve your workplace’s efficiency using Teams as your internal and external phone system.


Why your smart building development needs an overarching technical strategy

Your technical strategy is the DNA of your smart building. A joined-up technical strategy at the development stage ensures the faultless running of all your systems in the long term. This enhances your tenant satisfaction, attracting better tenants and increasing your yields. The implementation of an overarching technical strategy from day one is essential to a smooth development and flawless running. An integrated approach unites all of the complex systems in your building, drawing your performance data together into a manageable format. In this article, we will find out how.

What does an overarching technical strategy achieve?

Smart planning ensures your smart buildings’ systems work together cohesively

Smart building systems are the way forward for facility management. When planning a smart building strategy, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. A great deal of consultancy, technical expertise and a deep understanding of smart building features is required. Every smart building has different infrastructure and different architectural objectives. All of these are closely examined when engineering your smart building strategy. Many construction companies are confident with building the structures but may lack the technical expertise of how to join up disparate systems with complex controls. This can cause chaos and a scattered approach.

The criticality of a robust strategy

The Cambridge dictionary defines strategy as “a detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as war, politics, business, industry, or sport, or the skill of planning for such strategies.”

The goal of your smart building’s technical strategy is to join up all of your systems so they work harmoniously on a secure and reliable network. How do we achieve this? To create this strategy, you need skilled and experienced smart building consultants. This is what ITVET does. We have managed many prestigious smart property development projects. Our team work hands-on with your software and systems developers, contractors and site managers. Working closely with them at every stage of the process to gain a firm understanding of your smart building’s technical strategy. 

A logical approach to smart buildings

The most successful smart building development projects require ninja-level coordination skills and technical expertise. Successful deployment requires a specialist skillset to synchronize your software controls, security, mechanical and electrical systems. Relying on individual subcontractors to execute this strategy can result in added complexity and chaos. Subcontractors with deep expertise in their own mechanical and electrical systems may not necessarily understand the importance of network security. They may not know how their system integrates with other (IoT) devices on the network. More than likely they do not understand the various layers of an IT network and how all the technologies converge to work as a harmonious system. To work properly and avoid conflicts, all the operational technologies must work together flawlessly.

ITVET team speak the same language as your individual technology providers. We translate both software and hardware technical requirements into workable solutions. As smart building project managers, we can advocate for you, problem solve and deliver a technical strategy that works reliably first time.

What happens after your smart building is created? With ITVET, you have guaranteed IT support as part of your overarching technical strategy.

How does your smart building benefit from an overarching technical strategy?

It’s vitally important that your smart building development project objectives are deeply understood and met. What are your architectural drivers for using each smart building technology? Why are you harnessing smart building technology? You may be aiming to enhance your energy efficiency, create a unique customer experience, or ensure your property stands out in a crowded property market. Your smart building strategy ensures that you meet all of your objectives.

Ensuring your priorities are upheld

ITVET’s smart buildings team create a tailored digital strategy that fulfils your functional, design and operational requirements. ITVET’s experts create strategies that are scalable, customer-focused, and custom-made for your asset. We work with you to ensure your technical strategy meets your brief. We also ensure objectives are upheld in the design, construction, and maintenance phases of your smart building.

Identifying and solving problems

The nature of smart building features is that they are logically interconnected with the fabric of your building and woven into your network.  Understanding the interoperability of each technology and driving a smart integration strategy is critical to your projects’ success.

ITVET work with you to create your overarching technical strategy to remove any limitations from your project.  We help you select the right technical services and solutions for you and your tenants.

Investing in a robust smart building strategy

As part of your long-term smart building strategy, you will be thinking about your future objectives. These may be positioning your building favorably in the property market to avoid rental gaps. Or, simply pushing to lower your operational costs. In the fullness of time, you may use behavioral analytics and crowd monitoring technology to further automate and enhance your users’ experience. Real-time occupancy monitoring enables you to understand your tenants needs as they evolve and tailor your user experience around them.

The Consequences of not having a technical strategy

Harmonious communication

Without a clear technical strategy, it’s hard to ensure your projects’ priorities and goals are upheld. You may manage multiple subcontractors, all skilled for the service they provide, yet these subcontractors don’t work together or communicate with each other. This approach creates a slow and disjointed building process fraught with risk.

Lack of connection and flow   

A smart building is smart because all of the components are linked to one IT network. This idea of connection is fundamental and needs to be in the overarching technical strategy. When you hire multiple subcontractors to implement your mechanical and electrical systems, they may only work at the physical network layer. They don’t always understand how the IoT and other technical solutions are layered with your mechanical and electrical solutions. Additionally, they may not understand what you need from your systems’ data and where it needs to go to optimize performance. These things can cause a number of problems at the smart building development stage. A solid smart building technical strategy ensures a truly frictionless user experience. Our experts deeply understand how your smart building is interconnected, ensuring faultless performance.

How stable is your network?

Smart building performance relies on many sensors and interconnected IoT devices. Each send individual data streams across your network. But what if your data network goes down? If your appliances such as air conditioning or lighting are reliant on your network connection your tenant satisfaction vastly decreases. Some smart buildings even control key functions like toilet flushing via their network. In this case, a network failure could make the building very uncomfortable, very quickly.

Strong security system in a smart building

How secure are your systems?

What if someone unauthorised obtains malicious access to your data network and all of the information it contains?

Core IoT systems are vulnerable to attack

With the rise of IoT devices generally, there is a specialist part of the cybersecurity skillset that is growing more than others. The IT world is waking up to the fact that the IoT approach of connecting physical devices and making them report back their data creates many security vulnerabilities. The cybersecurity niche called Operational Technology (OT) is responsible for ensuring that critical systems remain protected from cyber-attacks. The best approach to security is prevention. Therefore, building your entire network architecture with layers of embedded security is optimal to mitigate data loss or attack.

Here is how ITVET keeps your network safe:

  • Consultation and design – Our dedicated network specialists work with you to design a network that forms a structured backbone for all smart building functions and systems.
  • Network installation – Our deployment engineers have years of smart building experience. They install state-of-the-art data networks in flagship building projects all over the UK. They manage this process from end-to-end. This includes physical cabling, data cabinets, and switches.
  • Infrastructure audit – We audit and monitor the integrity of your cabling switch infrastructure. 
  • Network security – We penetration test both externally and internally to ensure the security of your network.
  • Network monitoring – Our advanced systems monitor your network 24/7.
  • 24/7 network support – Our team of qualified IT Engineers support your network round the clock.

Often, during smart building projects, we find that little to no consideration is given towards network security. Security is a vital component to the creation and maintenance of a smart building which is why it must be given high priority within your strategy.

Use your data smartly

A KPMG survey on real estate technology discovered that only 29% of firms use data analytics techniques, and 54% don’t have current plans. As a result, these firms struggle to make fast decisions that meet the needs of their customers. Many industries deal with data chasms where they collect an exponential amount of data, and don’t know what to do with it. To effectively understand your data, intelligent tools are required to enable customer-led decisions.

ITVET’s data software

ITVET’s data analytics software clearly displays your collected data metrics. These metrics deliver invaluable insights. This software aggregates data from many places into one management console. We tailor the software to your buildings’ requirements with custom-built modules. This allows you to access your metrics at any time. Having clear access to your property’s data analytics increases your yields and feeds important management decisions.

ITVET builds the data aggregation into the smart building software. Our analytics software enables you to easily interpret this data. This would include occupancy hotspots in your smart building, what equipment is touched, the routes people take and much more. This real-time behavioural and performance data enables you to make decisions to ensure your asset’s performance remains high.  

How ITVET can help 

ITVET work with hundreds of clients to create custom smart buildings that are reliable and successful. We provide a frictionless experience to create your overarching technical strategy. Our on-going support, and network monitoring exceed normal checks. Providing you with the tools to drive returns within your smart building. This includes our data software so you can see how your asset is used, and how you can optimise it. An overarching network, systems, and data strategy means you don’t need to rely on the collaboration of disparate subcontractors. You can expect a clear vision from day one and know clearly that your criteria are always met.

ITVET’s strategy examples

ITVET has worked with hundreds of clients to create bespoke overarching technical strategies for many smart building projects. We listen to our clients and create logical smart buildings with unique features that really stand out in a crowded market. Here are two examples:

One Heddon Street

The slogan of One Heddon Street is ‘Work. Space. Redefined’. One Heddon Street ensures workers have the perfect environment for productivity. They offer flexible memberships for tenants to use their space. It’s the smart building features that make the space attractive. Tenant comfort was the ultimate priority in the creation of the technical strategy.

Here is what we provided through our strategy:  

  • Superfast internet – 1GB of resilient Wi-Fi backbone.
  • Thermal comfort – tenants have access to change the temperature of where they are sat to suit them.
  • Biodiversity – There is a living wall, an indoor garden, and trees are planted on each floor to create a relaxed ambience.
  • Indoor air quality – The fresh air supply to the offices is 50% above the minimum recommended level.

The Crystal

Events venue The Crystal is accredited as one of the world’s greenest buildings. Located in the Royal Docks, this smart building has seven equipped meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and a number of event spaces. The smart building features allow The Crystal to attract eco-conscious clientele to host their events there. This was fundamental to the strategy. ITVET used smart building features to reduce operating costs and the asset’s carbon footprint. Here are the solutions we implement in the overarching technical strategy:

  • 80% of its hot water is heated by solar energy and ground source heat pumps.
  • 70% less CO2 emissions compared to other offices in the UK.
  • Tenants can easily control lighting, temperature, microphone volume, all from a tablet or phone. 

Smart buildings require intelligent thinking. ITVET are experts in smart building strategy. We use a custom-made technical strategy to ensure a seamless experience in the creation and maintenance of your smart building. Want to find out what your strategy could look like?

Get in touch today.