Smart buildings aren’t exactly a new concept. For years, future-forward companies have been making their buildings increasingly smart, and now that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much, more people are wondering how to add to the intelligence of their buildings. And it’s not a bad idea — there are quite a few ways in which a building with a high IQ can help businesses come back after the pandemic.

The typical aim for most smart buildings has been to improve the efficiency of the building, and save money. Now that aim has changed, and people are relying on smart buildings to address health and safety challenges.

Artificial intelligence and products that incorporate analytics have proven to be especially useful with these challenges. Analytics can tell you whether the people inside your building are wearing masks, and whether they are properly social distancing. Analytics can also perform occupancy monitoring, alerting you to how many people are in the building, and restricting access once a set occupancy limit has been met.

The data that analytics can provide can also assist in maintaining the cleanliness of a building by providing insight into how the facilities have been used, and scheduling cleaning around occupancy reports.

Temperature sensors can even prevent a health hazard from getting into a building in the first place, by detecting potential fevers in visitors at the entrance of the facility. Building managers can also choose to add screening questions to their access control system to assess the health of a person before they are allowed access. And, if a sick person does enter the building, smart buildings can help with contact tracing, so that everyone who interacted with the sick person can be alerted, and the surfaces they came into contact with can be thoroughly cleaned.

Touch-free technology can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wave technology is one way to avoid contact with surfaces, but the mobile phone is another great method. Using just a mobile phone, visitors and employees can access entrances, elevators and more with advanced access credentials.

As your building becomes smarter, the risks around cybersecurity and data protection do increase, though. Be sure to plan your smart building with privacy in mind, and stay in compliance with GDPR and other regulations. And, it’s smart to have a cybersecurity consultant on hand to provide expertise and guidance.