Workplace Magazine wrote this great article #workspace #innovations

Ongoing recruitment, recent integration of OuiBus teams… BlaBlaCar is constantly on the move. To ensure optimal management of its spaces and meeting rooms in real time, the start-up has deployed an IoT system on its premises. A tested and approved solution. Focus.
At the end of 2018, BlaBlaCar acquired SNCF C6, which notably marketed the OuiBus transport brand. The transaction was finalised in July 2019 and the activity was renamed BlaBlaBus. As a result, around a hundred new employees moved into BlablaCar’s premises located in the Cloud building in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris. « After the purchase of Ouibus, all the employees joined us. In order to welcome these new arrivals and integrate the new recruits, we had to reorganise the space, » explains Muriel Havas, head of facilities at BlaBlaCar. Not to mention that a fast-growing start-up like BlaBlaCar regularly welcomes new employees. It then decided to temporarily transform some meeting rooms into a coworking type space to welcome new employees and then to recover part of its premises that it had been subletting until now. In order to optimise the occupation of the spaces, it lacked a real-time management of the meeting rooms and shared offices, enriched by information on presence and actual occupation. « For more flexibility and to minimise reconfiguration costs, we wanted a solution that was quick to install, requires no cables and can be reconfigured if possible according to our needs, » adds Muriel Havas.

After benchmarking the offers on the market, she deployed the Z#Workplace Management solution from Z#bre and smart objects from Avidsen, the French specialist in connected objects. The proposal was finalised in one week and the implementation was very quick, following a few exchanges with the IT team. There were no cables to be pulled, repositioned or hardware to connect. The solution offers a gateway that simply connects to the network. « A single person from our IT team took care of the deployment and integration of the gateway into the network, as well as the coupling with Gmail for the calendars. The integration with Gmail allows the use of remote booking for more than 500 relevant employees. »

Capture mission

Blablacar then installed several sensors in the coworking area and meeting rooms. These allow us to visualise, via a portal, the offices and meeting rooms, to see which spaces are occupied in real time, the occupancy rate per meeting room over a day or a week, etc.« . The portal allows us to see which offices and meeting rooms are occupied in real time, the occupancy rate per meeting room over a day or a week, etc. », explains Muriel Havas. Indeed, the platform uses the latest IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies to bring intelligence down to the objects. The library of ready-to-use service modules allows users to design their own space management solution by combining them. It is therefore obviously possible to measure the occupation of spaces (meeting rooms, phone boxes, hot desks, counting) but also to communicate and interact with the occupants via interactive room screens with electronic ink, with the possibility of booking on the fly. « If the presence sensor detects an absence for a long period of time, or does not detect any presence for a moment after the start of a scheduled meeting, it frees up the relevant room in Google Calendar to allow others to occupy it. In addition, the room can also be released in advance, by simply clicking on the ‘release’ button on the tablet at the entrance, » she says. The service also includes support and the definition of dashboards, the triggering of alerts in the event of over or under-occupation, and the analysis of occupancy over time.

After being used in the coworking area, the start-up decided to reuse the sensors in several informal spaces, and more specifically on various types of furniture (high tables, sofas, etc.). « We wanted to see if it was wise to keep this type of furniture. We wanted to see whether it was wise to keep this type of furniture. We then realised, for example, that high tables were used as much as desks… This gives good indicators for the future, » comments Muriel Havas.

Interesting perspectives

« In fine, we were able to compare the operation between a traditional building and a building equipped with sensors. The employees believe that the use is just as simple and effective, if not easier to use. And the integration with Google’s calendar further simplifies our organisation. General services have not experienced any negative feedback!  » observes Muriel Havas. In addition, the processing of data via the dashboards is of paramount importance. The data is arriving en masse. Hence the importance of having pre-established reports. « The specialists at Z#bre by avidsen have developed models that meet our specific piloting needs, » she adds. Satisfied with this first pilot project, BlaBlaCar has already deployed the solution in 10 additional rooms and plans to extend it to its second building in 2020. « When you are in perpetual motion, it is impossible to write specifications the old-fashioned way because they become obsolete very quickly. The choice must therefore focus on solutions capable of evolving easily and at no extra cost, both in terms of hardware and the implementation of business rules. On the other hand, the scalability of the solution to address other functional areas such as janitorial services, cleaning services, the provision of technological equipment in the rooms or the monitoring of environmental quality are fundamental in order not to end up with multiple applications in silos that are difficult to integrate, maintain and use. And, as we wished, the sensors can be reused for other uses, such as counting people using toilets, passages in a corridor, etc. «  Indeed, the facilities manager has already put the Z#bre teams in touch with her cleaning service provider to see if, in the long term, synergies could be created.