IoT Smart Sensors Monitor School Indoor Air Quality to Keep Students Safe

IoT smart sensors that have traditionally been used by schools to detect vaping can also monitor classroom indoor air quality.

IoT Smart Sensors Monitor School Indoor Air Quality to Keep Students Safe

Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism, and it can be exacerbated by a school's poor indoor air quality. Photo via Adobe, by Aliaksandr Marko

When it comes to safety at schools, most people worry about the threat of an active shooter entering school grounds. This is a true concern, but there is also another concern lurking in our schools that is rarely talked about outside of school facility managers. Did you know that there can be harmful chemicals in the air that can make students and staff sick?

Indoor air quality (IAQ) can impact a student’s academic performance today and have huge health consequences tomorrow for both students and campus staff members. IoT smart sensors can help schools prevent this from happening.

Leaky Roofs, Mold, HVAC Issues, Carbon Monoxide, and More Pose Problems

A school’s unhealthy physical environment can play a major role in academic performance. Leaking roofs, mold, lack of fresh air/poor ventilation, carbon monoxide, faulty heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and excessive use of cleaning chemicals can trigger myriad health issues for students and staff members who are susceptible to asthma and allergic reactions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately seven million children in the U.S., (about one out of every 10 school-aged children) have asthma. With more than 10.5 million missed school days per year, asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism.

Additionally, the National Education Association estimates that half of adults and children spend their school days breathing air polluted with toxic chemicals, mold, viruses, bacteria, asbestos, pesticides, smog, and particulates from vehicle pollution and more.

Indoor air problems can be subtle and do not always produce easily recognized impacts on health. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing, dizziness, nausea and irritation of the eye, nose, throat and skin. This can play havoc on people’s immune systems and be the root cause of future health issues.

The EPA has found that students in classrooms with high outdoor air ventilation rates tend to achieve higher scores on standardized tests in math and reading than children in poorly ventilated classrooms. In addition, the presence of dampness and mold in schools increases the risk of asthma and related respiratory health effects by 30-50%.

IoT Smart Sensors Can Help Detect Poor Indoor Air Quality

Although schools throughout the United States are facing these types of air quality issues, they now have a viable solution to help prevent sickness: IoT smart sensors. These sensors were originally deployed to help fight the vaping epidemic and monitor areas like bathrooms where video cameras are not allowed. They are now being used beyond vaping detection and are helping to identify poor air quality in classrooms.

Many school districts that have installed IoT smart sensors have received alerts on air quality issues they did not know existed prior to using the sensors. Problems that were detected include faulty HVAC system start-ups, improper filtering, incorrect air intake, and even idling school buses outside classroom windows. These sensors can also detect if building automation systems (BAS) are working effectively. These systems are responsible for the HVAC, electrical, lighting, shading, access control, security systems, and other interrelated systems. If any issues are detected in either the BAS or HVAC, IoT smart sensors can immediately send an alert to maintenance staff.

Investing in a smart solution that can monitor numerous activities all from one device is the answer. Smart sensors become a K-12 campus’ eyes, ears and nose that can quickly alert administrators if there is a problem with air quality. Setting up designated personnel to receive real-time notifications to monitor vape, air quality, and other safety events also gives administrators situational awareness during emergencies. Schools can implement these smart sensors throughout their facilities and keep an eye on things 24/7. Sensors can even be installed on school buses to monitor drug use and air quality.

Smart Sensors Can Make Schools Safer

Today, creating a safe environment for schools does not have to be a complex process and can be accomplished with the right technology. By implementing smart sensors in classrooms, bathrooms, buses, hallways, etc., school administrators can breathe easier knowing that their students and staff are protected. By making a difference in our students’ future, we can make the world a smarter, safer, and healthier place to live. If schools continue to take the proper steps to mitigate risk by making smart decisions in technology, our children will have a bright future filled with good health and academic success.

David Antar is MSSSI VP of IPVideo at Motorola Solutions

NOTE: The views expressed by contributing author are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Campus Safety.

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