In recent screen-to-screen conversations with industry leaders three words keep coming up in respect to air monitoring on construction sites: Resilience, Remote and ConTech.

For the construction sector to survive and thrive beyond COVID-19, companies must implement systems-thinking approaches which mitigate risks to people and projects, provide access to real-time data from anywhere, and leverage new technologies to gain higher efficiencies and save costs. While these trends were evident pre-Covid, recent industry constraints have pushed turbo-boost on remote air monitoring. Here are some of the challenges and how disruptive technology will help us bounce back.

New and old challenges require innovative approaches

Firms who relied on manually downloading data from air monitors and sharing data on paper or in person are struggling to deal with sudden changes to how and where employees are working. COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing has meant many engineering and consultant business offices have shifted to employee’s homes, so project managers that normally dropped off daily and weekly reports, can no longer do so. With physical interactions limited between company employees and client contractors, remote data collection and sharing is a no-brainer for cost reduction as well.

Remote air monitoring using Cloud-based telemetry is not a new idea. However, most systems communicate one-way only in that the data is pushed to the Cloud but remote diagnostics and instrument management are lacking. To troubleshoot the air monitor, or perform basic maintenance, requires physically going to site which not only takes up valuable time but risks potential spread or exposure to COVID-19. Even before we heard of Coronavirus it was getting increasingly hard for external contractors to get access to sites due to health and safety and liability insurance etc. This is where con-tech and next-level remote air monitoring software comes into its own. It leverages two-way communication for managing data and instruments at network scale which, enables project managers to monitor numerous sites simultaneously, receive real-time updates automatically, diagnose and troubleshoot hardware, and effectively be in multiple places at once, even from home.

Next-level remote air monitoring systems leverage two-way communication and Cloud-based software to reduce costs and enable project managers to manage data and instruments at numerous sites simultaneously

The economic impact of COVID-19 has also witnessed cost-cutting measures all over the construction landscape including employee redundancies. Lessons from the global financial crisis taught us the value of technology solutions to overcome worker shortages and give firms the ability to streamline use of their resources. Ten years on, ConTech has given us Connected Construction—the disruptive capability to connect smaller, smarter, and mobile sensors to Cloud-based software and make the data visible in dashboards. These new connected data environments can give project managers combined insights into air quality, noise, vibration, soil conditions, and water levels at the construction site to help them more efficiently plan work, mitigate potential risks, and comply with safety and environmental requirements.

COVID-19 ready remote air monitoring systems—designed for construction sites

Meeting these challenges head on Aeroqual, together with our partners in the USA and UK, has developed COVID-19 ready air monitoring systems which offer construction firms greater resilience on their projects, remote access to real-time data and alerts from anywhere, and connect an array of sensor technologies for efficiency and cost reductions.

Firstly, our air quality monitors are purpose-built for outdoor dust and gas measurements, meaning they are designed tough for construction and require less maintenance. When coupled with remote power systems such as Li-Ion or sealed gel cell batteries, physical interactions and site visits for repair and service are fewer and far between.

Aeroqual Dust Sentry network remotely monitors air quality at the LA Rams SoFi Stadium construction site during COVID-19. Photo Analytical Consulting Group

For instance, our Dust Sentry and AQS 1 monitors use auto calibration and heated PM sampling inlets to correct for humidity variations, which in turn eliminates false-positive readings common to other dust monitors. Likewise, our VOC module applies Automatic Baseline Correction (or ABC) to the PID sensor to auto-correct sensor drift caused by environmental interference’s. This technology, unique to Aeroqual, can extend calibration frequency from a daily to monthly regime and significantly reduce costs and time.

Secondly, each of our outdoor monitors include a mini-computer, a WiFi router and cellular modem to quickly connect them to the Cloud. All the data, even from multiple instruments and sites, is available 24/7 through Aeroqual’s Cloud Software on any web browser, which is conveniently accessed through smartphones, tablets, iPad’s and desktops, no matter where the user is located.

Not only can you access, analyze and report on data, trigger real-time alerts via SMS and email, as well as view all your monitors on a map, but Aeroqual Cloud’s two-way platform means you’re able to remotely troubleshoot monitors and update instrument settings, which reduces downtime and manpower costs, and critically, eliminates the need to go to site.

Construction and consultancy giant, Mace, use 13 Aeroqual Dust Sentry monitors, Sonitus noise and AVA vibration sensors connected remotely to a Cloud-based ecosystem at the 'Gotham City' site, 40 Leadenhall Street, City of London. Photo Campbell Associates

Lastly, the ecosystem of connected assets to our air quality monitors includes weather stations, noise meters, vibration sensors, sample collection devices and video cameras, which can be put everywhere across the construction value chain. For example, a recent innovation integrates surveillance cameras set to trigger by motion or off an alert and create visibility from the field. The video images are useful to remotely verify an air quality event before taking the appropriate action response, and visually record a pollution exceedance. As a security precaution a camera can alleviate the need to break down and set up equipment each day, saving additional time. During the COVID-19 outbreak in New York the live-video is also being used to help manage social distancing on construction sites.

Aeroqual AQS1 at a site in New York fitted with a surveillance camera used for remote confirmation of air quality exceedances, round-the-clock security, and to help manage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo Specto Technology

With construction companies being forced to find new ways to do more with less, the ability for project managers to remotely monitor and manage air quality on multiple projects, in a connected data environment, is a powerful tool for efficiency in the industry. What’s more, these demands will still be driving the trend towards remote air monitoring after restrictions are lifted in a post-Covid world.

Who is Aeroqual?

Aeroqual is the industry leader for next-level remote air monitoring solutions designed for construction and remediation sites. We provide project managers and environmental professionals with actionable data they can trust, without the hassle, cost and risk associated with most air quality monitoring projects.

We design and deliver integrated hardware and software tools, built on industry-leading sensor technology, that make it easy to measure the air.

Since 2001, government, industry, researchers, and consultants have chosen to work with us on thousands of projects in 70 countries on all seven continents.

Together we are working towards a world where the threat of air pollution is diminished and where people feel safe to take their next breath. 

To learn more about Aeroqual’s air quality monitoring solutions, please contact us