Work Life in the Time of COVID-19

BrandPost By Aruba Experts
Mar 12, 2021

The locus for converged IoT and contextual data is the IT infrastructure that’s generating the latter and carrying both.

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Credit: iStock

By: Michael Tennefoss, Vice President of IoT and Strategic Partnerships at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

As enterprises pivot from the harsh reality of the COVID-19 pandemic to the unknowns of post-vaccination, return-to-work scenarios, one certainty stands out: re-opening offices and safely bringing back employees will require an agile IT infrastructure. CIOs still grappling with massive remote work initiatives must now also contend with new ways of safely using office space by employees who move fluidly between home, work, and customers.

Automated hoteling space management, air quality monitoring, overcrowding detection, and usage-dependent cleaning services will all be part of the post-pandemic office. To work effectively, these services require situational knowledge, or “hyper-awareness,” based on a mash up of Internet of Things (IoT) device data and network-generated contextual data. IoT data includes presence, people count, air samples, and space reservation indicators. Contextual data includes location, identity, applications in use, and security posture.  

The locus for converged IoT and contextual data is the IT infrastructure that’s generating the latter and carrying both. Pan-enterprise wired and wireless IT networks enable pervasive data collection and conveyance, over existing infrastructure, that was designed from the ground up to connect and protect the people and machines that use it. There’s no need for overlay networks or shadow IT, and costs are minimal since the IT infrastructure is already deployed.

Connect and Protect From Edge-to-Cloud

To simplify the monitoring of wireless IoT devices, Aruba has evolved its access points (APs) into full-fledged IoT platforms. Aruba Wi-Fi 6 APs include Wi-Fi, BLE, and 802.15.4 radios, and plug-in USB adapters support a wide range of 800/900MHz IoT and OT devices. For example, Aruba APs equipped with an EnOcean USB adapter, and used in conjunction with EnOcean-enabled IoT devices, is ideal for back-to-work initiatives.

The EnOcean ISO/IEC 14543-3-1X standard is used by more than 400 vendors, making more than 5,000 different IoT devices, and deployed in over 1 million buildings worldwide. Since most EnOcean devices use energy harvesting power sources instead of batteries, the IoT network is both green and maintenance-free.

Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) provides the unified, secure, cloud-native IT network infrastructure that underpins integration of the IoT devices. The solution builds on already installed Aruba infrastructure, significantly reducing the cost of deployment. Used in conjunction with cloud-based applications, ESP-based back-to-work solutions can be rapidly deployed without the need for expensive IoT overlay networks or hardware gateways.

One of the simplest ways to leverage cloud-based applications is by using Aruba’s new IoT Transport for Microsoft Azure to securely stream IoT data to any of more than 190 Azure IoT applications and services. This extensible approach takes the guesswork out of establishing a secure, bi-directional transfer of data between edge IoT devices and Azure IoT.

Using existing Aruba IT infrastructure as the linkage between the two, the approach is consistent with Aruba’s Zero Trust framework and eliminates the headache of trying to home brew an edge-to-cloud solution. Customers can quickly implement return-to-work solutions on demand, in both new and existing deployments, without needing to rip or replace legacy IT infrastructure.

Space Utilization Management

Presence detectors, people counters, and network-generated location data can be readily forwarded to the cloud for analysis. With the ability to visualize the real-time usage of, and travel paths within, a given space, enterprises can create much more effective space utilization programs.

Within hoteling spaces, IoT-enabled motion and vibration sensors can detect the frequency, recency, and dwell time of occupants so cleaning can be optimally scheduled. Network-generated location data can help identify overcrowded spaces for effective infection control, social distancing, and contact tracing protocols. Location awareness can also help facilitate hot-desking and yield productivity improvements through better allocation of desks and meeting spaces.

Predictive Sanitary Services

Wireless EnOcean-based, maintenance-free sensors can help maintain safe and healthy restroom environments by tracking soap dispenser usage, people counting, air quality, and other parameters. The building operator can receive detailed information about the quality of the cleaning services while lowering costs by automating what had been manual checks of soap and paper towel dispensers.

Smart Ventilation

Automating air quality monitoring can enable demand-based ventilation to reduce the risk from airborne contaminants and viruses. For example, Thermokon’s EnOcean-based CO2 sensor can initiate room ventilation long before a temperature rise is sensed.

In Summary

Aruba ESP, combined with solutions from Aruba’s technology partners, helps enable hyper-aware buildings in which hoteling space management, air quality monitoring, overcrowding detection, and usage-dependent cleaning services can be securely and expeditiously deployed.  Integrating IoT device data and Aruba network-generated contextual data provides situational awareness that can be shared with on-premise and cloud-based applications. And it can do it without breaking the bank by leveraging existing secure Aruba IT infrastructure and off-the-self devices and applications from a broad technology partner ecosystem.

Want to learn more about harnessing the edge to enable a safe return to work? Visit the Aruba ESP page: For more about the Aruba and EnOcean Alliance collaboration on creating hyper-aware buildings, visit: