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The Internet of Things disrupts the urinal

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The Internet of Things disrupts the urinal

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Toilets at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 are have sensors that count the number of times someone uses their services. Counting the number of times someone uses a urinal may seem like a small thing, but the outcome is disruptive — the cleaning of the toilet has always been tied to a cleaning schedule. That schedule requires staffing at levels and in places that are at best a management hunch. Invariably, lines form, toilets get dirty, and customer service suffers.

…which is why this is such a powerful trend. This one example of the Internet of Things has at least three clear implications:

IoT and customer service - With data, that’s now old-school thinking. Data coming from the toilet in real-time tells us when it actually needs to be cleaned and how often it gets used. Data “in the moment” allows a stadium or any other venue that has crowds to provide better customer service by directing customers to clean and/or empty urinals.

IoT and management - When we know how often a urinal gets dirty, we can also know how quickly it gets cleaned. We can see patterns of responsiveness by employees and gauge effectiveness with real data to see where to apply corrections and training. Staffing levels and deployments can be adjusted.

IoT and process - The process of providing toilet services changes. Rather than ‘dumb’ facilities, we have smart facilities that tell the staff where, when and how often to perform their work.

IoT and prediction – And then it gets predictive…by knowing the changing patterns of toilet use, toilet installations can be moved, expanded or cut back to serve future use. Whole bathrooms can be opened or closed as demand requires, making for more efficient use of resources while maintaining customer service. Analytics can spot trends for how usage changes in volume and location during any time frame, including the course of an event.

What may seem small — a sensor in a toilet — is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the changes we can expect to see through the ubiquitous use of connected sensors…AKA The Internet of Things.

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