On-Demand Webinar

5 AIR-Y TRENDS FOR 2021: HOW THE INDOOR AIR QUALITY MARKET IS CHANGING

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Video Transcription

Ronit: Hi everyone, welcome to today's webinar Five Air-y Trends for 2021: How the indoor air quality market is changing. My name is Ronit Margulies. I'm the Director of Corporate Communications here at BreezoMeter and I'll be your moderator. Before we get started, I just wanted to go over a few housekeeping items: Today's session will be recorded and emailed to you afterward so don't worry. We will be holding a q & A session at the end of the event, but feel free to send in your questions at any time that they come to you. 

Martin says something to me or says something that spikes a question, send it in. We'll be fielding them and if we don't get to your question on the webinar itself someone will follow up with you after.

So today's event will be hosted by our very own Tamir Kessel. Tamir leads the smart buildings and digital health industries at BreezoMeter where he explores the innovative ways of applying environmental intelligence to drive business growth and contributes to BreezoMeter’s mission of improving the health of billions of people by reducing their exposure to environmental hazards. 

And we are of course super excited to have with us today Martin McGloin. Martin is the product manager for Airthings For Business: a comprehensive indoor air quality IQ monitoring and insight solution for commercial buildings. For those of you who don't know Martin, Martin is a former software developer and entrepreneur who has recently entered the world of property technology. He has a passion for open data and APIs as an enabler for innovative change within our built environment to create healthier, more productive, and environmentally friendly indoor spaces. As a Norwegian Irishman, he has a curious accent, if you hadn't heard, but it is mostly comprehensible so we'll be the judge of that. I don't know about you guys I’m super excited to get started, so I’m going to pass it off to you guys. Enjoy:

Martin: Thank you so much, Ronit, for that enthusiastic welcome, and I must say you have a very nice fireplace there in your background as well, I hope it's not impacting your indoor air quality too much.

Ronit: It's a virtual fireplace, no air pollution here.

Martin: Excellent. Honestly Tamir, it's been so much fun discussing with you preparing this webinar over the last couple of weeks, and there have been some late evenings discussing our two perspectives on air quality, and I think those perspectives are really what we want to address in this webinar, right? 

I spend most of my day thinking about, probably a bit more than average, more than what's healthy, about the air that we breed inside buildings, but in our discussions and exploring and preparing this webinar really opened up my perspective to see actually take more into account what goes on outside the building so looking a bit outwards and I hope maybe similarly I’ve gotten you to start looking a bit more inside the building as well?

Tamir: Of course, totally.

Martin: And I think what’s going to flavor this webinar and the trends that we have is the similarity in our background. So we're both software developers by training, entering the world of air quality and it's the tools of IT and software development is really going to help us as we gather, not more data specifically about air quality, but generally also about our environment around us, our built environment and outside our built environment, so and we need to go from that raw data into something that can be insightful and actionable, and something we can all relate to, and that's the responsibility we have across these market trends for everyone that works with their quality going from raw sensor data into something we can all work with, in a tangible manner. Yeah? shall we get started, Tamir?

Tamir: Yeah, I mean that makes a lot of sense really and that's why we're talking about whales, right?

Martin: Indeed, Tamir! Trying to save us from a few technical difficulties there. Score. We do should start, the reason I want to start with whales is that I feel that we have a cliche that we need to take more seriously, and that cliche is, I think most of you on this call have been on a webinar or a conference call before about indoor air quality, and you're bound to have heard that we spend 90% of our time indoors. So it doesn't become a cliche, and actually that we can reflect on the significance of the statements I rephrased in the reference to whales. 

So, human beings, spend more time inside a building than certain species of whales spend underwater. By the time you're 40 years old, and I think probably a few of us might already have been more than 40, but by the time you're 40, you would have spent 36 years inside the building. So whether we like it or not, our natural habitat has become inside. 

We are, as Velux, the Danish window manufacturer has dubbed us, an indoor species, or an indoor generation. And thus I think we need to be very aware of the indoor environment. The challenge, I think, I hope most of you might agree, I have reflected on the same thing that, when we talk about air quality or air pollution it tends to be in the context of what we breathe outside. And often in the research and the media, we might have neglected a little bit that most of the breathing happens inside, so that's one of my motivations in this webinar. Maybe we try and regain that balance, Tamir?

Tamir: Yeah, absolutely. I think that balance is really critical and actually you can't really disconnect the two, can you? If you think about indoor and outdoor, you need to think about it as one continuum, and I think the best way to understand that is through some recent research that Dyson did. Dyson, we all know them, and for those who don't know, one of their strongest brands and strongest products is their air purifier products. And they did some research, measuring levels of pollution and PM2.5 particulate matter specifically, both with sensors indoors and sensors outdoors across the Los Angeles area. And they did that over the period leading up to independence day, July 4th, where, as many may know, is celebrated with a lot of fireworks, and that fireworks create PM, particulate matter, pollution. 

And so, what you can see here from this graph is two lines, a red line, and a blue line. The red line indicates average outdoor air quality across the city and the blue line indoor air quality, and we see how the one is tracking the other. So what this really indicates is that you can't disconnect one from the other you have to think of both of them.

Of course, indoors we have many other pollutants that you don't have outdoors and outdoors you have some that you may not have indoors, but so you do need to track them separately. But that relationship is really critical, and it's critical both from a scientific perspective and also from the human perspective. The human perspective is that, people are thinking about what they're breathing or thinking about wherever they are indoor and outdoor. 

Martin: Exactly. So hopefully that is a good justification and reason why we're having this webinar and really that you're in for a treat to get these perspectives from someone that works predominantly with indoor equality and someone who works phenomenally without their equality and seeing how there is this continuum. 

So we have five questions, topics, trends that we've been exploring in the late-night discussions that we want to share with you and I think the first one we need to address, Tamir, in our webinar, is this general increase in general awareness around air quality.

Tamir: Yeah, we're seeing that in both our businesses and across the air quality industry, and I think, first of all, it's to understand that, you know, why is this happening and how is this happening and what are we seeing. A nice way to look at that is we've taken, we've built some data analysis on the number of requests to the BreezoMeter API, to the BreezoMeter data, so how many people and how often is air quality data being demanded. 

And what we've seen, and if you see this the green trend line across the screen and across that graph, and that represents the growth in demand for air quality information. So awareness is growing. That growth is basically from the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2020, is doubling over that, it's doubled over that period. So very very clear, and we saw that before, in fact, it's an acceleration, it's accelerating right now.

Martin: Tamir, I’m sorry. I can't help looking at that trendline.

Tamir: Exactly, exactly. And that that dab is really interesting because that dab on average is a straight line and represents really the growth and the potential for indoor-outdoor anyone looking at air quality. But you'll also see some other things in this graph, right? 

Martin: There's one I think we have to call out there's a massive spike there, September 2020?

Tamir: Yep, yep, exactly. Please…

Martin: West Coast wildfires, USA?

Tamir: Exactly, exactly. So I think not only the people on the west coast of the US but across the USD became very aware of wildfires and the impact of air pollution.

Martin: I think it's there's so much going on in the world I think it's easy for us to forget the significance of it, but I remember looking at the air quality maps, that you guys produce at the time as well, and looking at the air quality indices were actually clipping their charts during the wildfires. Like it was what they were describing in terms, like, airpocalypse or air-armageddon, and I had no comprehension to understand how is it to live through such an air quality disaster or event, and I wanted to to get a bit more first-hand experience of it. I set up an interview a couple of months ago with a lady that was actually living through these events in Oregon. Shall we have a quick look at that?

Tamir: Yep.

Oregon Resident Speaks About Air Quality Reality During & After Wildfires

Martin: Hi.

Mimi: Hi, I’m Mimi Alkire and I am right now in Bend, Oregon, which is about 150 miles from Portland, and we have a home in Portland as well, and during the worst of the smoke season I was in portland. This has been worse than anything I've ever seen in my life. But you still can't go outside, and if this life was so hard and you can't keep the smoke out of your house as hard as you try. 

You open the garage door and then close the garage door and then the garage smells like smoke, and then the house smells like smoke, and even, you know though you can't see it you can smell it, you know it's there. Eyes burning, you know, always have a sore throat, it was just awful. Some of my friends put wet towels along the bottom of the doors, and we just closed all the doors and windows and tightened the house down as well well as we could, but if you have to leave and go out and get in your car and drive somewhere, you open your garage or, as I said, and then the garage fills up with smoke. It actually hurts, you know? 

You pull that into your lungs and it burns all the way down. Luckily, we, I mean maybe not luckily, but we still are in such a terrible space for Covid that we all are wearing masks, but the mask that we're wearing might protect us from COVID, but the smoke gets through. You can't filter out smoke without an n95 mask, and none of us are allowed to have them because they have to be used by medical practitioners so... 

We're out with our cloth masks and doing the best we can and staying in if we can but... I have a dog. I have to walk my dog a couple of times a day. So a couple of times a day I would just bind everything up and go out and do the minimum that I could do, and then get back in as soon as I could because my eyes were burning, my throat is sore, you know your nasal passages all the way down are just on are just burning.

Tamir: You know, that that really brings it home, not just what we see in the data, which we saw before, but really the personal impact. And that's someone talking about how they can live a normal life for them and not to even mention people who have respiratory conditions, suffer from say asthma, who are going to feel that even more than the average person,

Martin: Talking to Mimi is such a stark reminder to me that we can't take the air we breathe for granted. I saw the estimates that the air quality was actually 10 times worse than at any other recorded time on the west coast. So it's definitely something that's influencing and impacting our air quality awareness. I was even reading during the time, Tamir, that the smoke plumes from the wildfire from these intense fires arrived on the west coast of Norway, and we're impacting the air quality in Norway.

Tamir: Yeah, that's that's like, this almost half halfway around the world right?

Martin: It's like 8000 kilometers away, it's impacting air quality.

Tamir: Yeah, and it's another example of basically how air quality knows no borders, right? You need to moderate monitor it globally because it's not going to take into account physical and definitely not geographic political borders. So it's critical to look at it across and monitor it across there.

Martin: And that's why I think that the air quality awareness did not just increase on the west coast of the US. It was a global phenomenon that everyone was aware of. We had a similar one in Australia. So it's definitely that's why we saw this peak. It wasn't just people on the west coast looking up data it was a general awareness and thinking about what's happening. 

The Importance of AQ Data In The Age of Covid-19

Another element I want to point into, which I observe in the work I’m doing, is transparency and access to data. We all breathe 28, 000 times a day, and as I go deeper and geek out more about air quality it just baffles me why we're not demanding more information about the air we’re breathing?

How can we be so blind to something that's impacting our bodies? It's not just well well-being parameters, it's our health and even as we will see later on intelligence. Even the last time I was at McDonald’s and had a cheesy cheeseburger, I got a full nutritional breakdown, I knew all the new ingredients and what I was putting inside my body and I knew how it would impact my health. And I could make an active choice about how to live optimally for myself right? And similarly, do you have one of these smartwatches, Tamir?

Tamir: Yeah we're all tracking our fitness as well. We're tracking what we eat, we're tracking what sport we do right?

Martin: Every step, every heartbeat, we get the data and the insights to measure and make the changes to our lives to deliver a healthy life. Yet when was the last time you walked into a building and there was an air quality nutritional breakdown on the air quality you'll be exposed to inside that building? And why don't we have the same expectations? But I think we do and I think we will be seeing that. If you're responsible for operating or managing buildings or cities, this expectation is definitely on the rise.

I noticed most recently, I think on my phone, apple who tends to be very good at doing product development and keeping a pulse on the market demand, they actually included now in their weather app air quality data and also air quality predictions to not only plan your day according to the weather but also the air quality in the city you live. 

So I think that's definitely a trend, something impacting that awareness trend, but of course... I don't want to do an elephant snout now because I can't remember how to do it but there is an elephant in the room, Tamir, that we need to address.

Tamir: Yeah, yeah. We can't ignore that elephant. I mean we can talk about the different obvious trends and climate change and wildfires and longer pollen seasons, etc. But you know, with the pandemic, we've all become a bit more hypochondriac, right? We all become much more aware of what we touch, what we breathe, and it's become really, really clear that this increased awareness for our health and our wellness. It's not going to go away quickly.

You know, there's the good side of it with our health systems improving, but it's going to influence and it's over and it's already directly impacting the demand for different types of air quality monitoring products, different kinds of air quality improvement products. So, Martin, I know that you love researching everything to do with air quality, the air quality industry, and what have you learned from looking at the history of air quality awareness and healthy buildings?

Martin: Yeah, I think in the context, if we're going to see what has changed with Covid-19, we need to know what our delta is, right? What's the change? So I took a step back and I looked into some ventilation history as you normally do, and I think a starting point... So it went all the way back to 1893, and John Shaw Billings here, and one of the first ventilation textbooks that were written, points out a contradiction in our understanding, our appreciation of air, which I think is shifting now, with Covid-19. 

In the same way that we find it very repulsive to put on someone else's underwear after they wore it or taking a piece of food into our mouth, yet at the same time we give no second thought to the fact that the air we breathe might have just been inside another person's body a few seconds ago. And that question is how much of another person's breath have I been breathing, it's definitely something that's been on everyone's mind the last year.

One key indicator that's helping us answer that question is CO2 monitoring. And that's definitely become a must-have now for anyone that operates a public building because it is a great indicator for how much of other people's breath is in there around us, whereas normal atmosphere, in the atmosphere normally, we're around 0.04 percent CO2 concentration but when we breathe out it's 4% or 40 000 parts per million.

Tamir: Yeah, yeah, and that's a huge difference, which is what makes monitoring CO2 such a great conduit for measuring the potential of virus spread, right?

Martin: Exactly. And that's why CO2 managers are selling like hotcakes, or as we say in Norway, wheat bread, for some reason. This is a great example from the Netherlands, and what all of these articles here are indicating is how CO2 monitors are becoming requirements in schools, and that they're selling out, and they have to provide these traffic light indicators for the CO2 levels within the buildings. But instead of trying, I’m not going to translate because I’m not very good at dutch. Let's listen to someone on the ground in the Netherlands, to hear their experience of CO2 monitoring, and also how Covid is clearly making people more generally aware of air quality.

Labots Team Talks About AQ Demands in The Netherlands

Martin: Hi guys.

Roland: Hey Martin, good to see you again. Marijn and Roland from Labots in the Netherlands.

Martin: The Netherlands is going crazy. I’ve been seeing news stories all over the place, that CO2 monitors are just being ripped out of the stores, and that they're like there are no more CO2 monitors possible to buy from the Netherlands. What's happening?

Roland: Yeah, that's true, man. You know it's been in the news everywhere since the whole Covid-19 situation. Last month we only got about 20 news items on national television, in the newspapers. Yeah, air quality is just a thing that's top of mind right now in Dutch society. Every school in the Netherlands has to test their CO2 levels in the schools because last month the schools were open again. Right now there is a team set up, like a task force, and they have to monitor all the schools in the Netherlands, so…

Marijn: Manually.

Roland: Yeah, manually.

Marijn: They have to, really, they have to visit the school with a with paper and pen, and then they have to go to a classroom and say, all right there are 30 people in this class, this is this, is the volume, and then they have to go through every class, so there are parents who give their kids a desktop a CO2 meter in the backpack, to measure inside the classroom, without schools even knowing, because parents they want to know that their kids learn and stay in a healthy environment. When you got a good chair, you got a good desk, why not breathe good air? 

There were rumors for quite some time that the air quality inside older buildings was not good, as known as the big sick building syndrome. But now with the attention from Covid all over, the awareness reaches everybody.

Air Quality Awareness Growing Across The World

Tamir: That's crazy, right? I mean it really shows how increasing awareness, through the press, through standards organization, can really bring about real change. And that's really what BreezoMeter and Airthings are all about, right? To make people aware not only of the chairs they're sitting in, whether they're comfortable, as he just said, or you know, what we're eating or what sport we're doing, but the air we breathe. 

But we're seeing this not only in the Netherlands, right Martin?

Martin: No, and I think most people on the webinar now will recognize this trend in their national jurisdictions. We're saying the same in Germany. They came up with these guidelines for indoor air hygiene a few months ago, which come with similar recommendations and guidelines in the Netherlands. At the European level, Rafa, which is the organization for all the ventilation and HVAC specialists across Europe, also came with similar guidance. 

I see the CDC and the US have also recognized the importance of ventilation as a key risk mitigation tool. Same coming out of the UK, and there are countless examples of this now coming across. But it's not only CO2 monitoring in schools and office and public spaces that's coming through in these guidelines. It's also a change in our ventilation strategies that I think will have quite a big impact in at least a few countries. In certain countries, we use recirculation of air as an HVAC strategy to minimize the energy impact known as the cost of operating the building. But now as the other point here that I’ve highlighted on the slides, there's a recommendation to switch to 100 outdoor air throughout all your air hunting units, and as we both know, Tamir, that kind of change might have other unintended consequences right?

Tamir: Yeah, yeah, I mean, it can lead to other challenges, you know, when we're refreshing the area, maybe allowing other pollutants to enter indoors, and that could be impacting us as well. So when we go from a 20-30% refresh rate to 100% there are going to be unintended consequences, beyond energy efficiency since our HVACs were not designed necessarily for this degree of outdoor air, and the controllers may not have the sophistication required for that. 

It really brings our focus to this balancing act between energy efficiency and health when we're managing buildings, right? And it represents this economics versus health discussion that is prevailing all of our lives in everything that we do, right? And also in the buildings, because health is a key factor for bringing people back to the office, and to keep the office, keeping them healthy and helping them feel safe. But it's no longer enough, as my good friend from Siemens, Martin Peck, says.

No, it's not enough to set a controller that refreshes air twice a day and doesn't change in the building for, you know, for 20 years. You know, that focus on energy optimization, with that, in the past, we forgot about the people, but now we need to be careful that we're not going in the other extreme, you know? We've got to find that balance.

Martin: And that's why I love the seesaw slide of yours here, Tamir. It’s that, really recognizing that it's a balancing act of ensuring a healthy indoor environment, at the same time we want to have a healthy planet and minimize the energy footprint and the CO2 footprint of our built environment, which accounts for something like 40% of our CO2 emissions, right? So how do we get this balance right?

I think a lot of that comes back. You mentioned my “name brother”, Martin Peck, in Siemens, and there was a webinar last week, I hope it was recordable, it was really good, talking about how it's not rocket science, it's not science fiction now, going from a static control calendar in your building, but leveraging dynamically your indoor air quality data and your outdoor data to create, to manage the seesaw dynamically, program into your BMS, into your building management system, or the controllers in your building. It's not called, watch that webinar, it just shows how easy it is to implement these control routines now and go away from these static 20-year-old strategies that we're used to.

But I think having shown this profound impact our billings has, the growing awareness, brings us to our third point, right Tamir?

Tamir: Yeah, I mean, we should really take a step back because, while we understand this impact, our understanding of what air quality is and how it's affecting our bodies is also developing, and it's also becoming much deeper. So you know, it's really a fantastic demonstration that has come from The Guardian, who did a review of how pollution is affecting every organ in our body, and it's mind-boggling that the air we're breathing impacts us and our bodies in so many ways, right? Not just the obvious ones about that, it's you know our lungs and our respiratory systems, but it's also our hearts and our brains. 

And very very recent research has shown, you know, the correlation between areas with high levels of outdoor pollution and violent crime, and how it's affecting our sight loss, it's affecting infertility, so really it gets into every part of our body, and that's, you know, we're all focused on the virus, but we need to be aware, now with this increased awareness, of how we can protect ourselves from pollution.

Martin: I highly recommend everyone to google up and find that article from The Guardian and their visualization of just all the different organs and body parts impacted by air quality and air pollution, in particular. 

Productivity & Cost Benefits of Good Air Ventilation

One of the topics I’ve been exploring in the same vein is how the air inside our buildings is also impacting our intelligence, particularly within our office and work environment, whether it's home office or in our traditional office environments. Just before Covid closed everything down, I was at the world's largest HRAC conference, it's organized by Ashrae, it’s in this huge conference center in the USA. There I got the pressure of meeting Dr. Edward Bogucz, professor Edward Bogucz, from the Syracuse University of central, no, Syracuse university center of excellence is the long name, where they conducted a very seminal study into office air quality and impacts it have on our brains and our ability to perform as knowledge workers. 

So at Syracuse, they built up this, I think it's a four-story laboratory or a fake office building with a very advanced ventilation system, where they had the opportunity to finely tune the levels of CO2 and VOCs within the space.  

For these experiments, what they did is that they invited workers to do their normal job at the computer for a couple of weeks at a time, and every day they would finely tune the levels of  CO2 and VOCs, and at the end of each working day administer this cognitive abilities test that determined their cognitive abilities across nine different parameters or nine different areas. And their comparison in the report, they're compared to what are the average levels of CO2 or VOCs that you find in an average office environment, compared to what happens if we just increase the ventilation rate and bring those levels a little bit more, but making sure that we're ventilating that space with more outdoor air more regularly.

And I’m sure you're all very excited to see the results now.

Let's put it this way if we were a pharmaceutical company, Tamir, and I invented a pill that gave you the ability to be twice as smart, what do you think the market value of that pharmaceutical company, would be? It would be priceless, right? Here, ventilation is that pill, ladies and gentlemen. 

The results: overall cognitive abilities increased by 101% just by increasing the rate of ventilation in those spaces, like key parameters, like strategic thinking, like thinking about all the strategic decisions you have to make for your company in every given day or all the information that you have to process and use in the work that you do a 300% increase on this spectrum, comparing an average process of working with a more ventilated space.

It's pretty much a no-brainer, right?

Tamir: Yeah totally. I just think back to you know previous roles I’ve had in my career, where I was very involved with different types of productivity tools, knowledge worker productivity tools, where, you know, we would talk about how things like Slack or teams or some sort of office 365 tools can help to increase the productivity of employees. 

But what you don't take into account is, you know, the effort it takes to get the people to use these tools so the behavioral change that's required to reach those productivity changes, whereas with these sort of changes you don't have to, you don't have to actually ask your employees to do anything to…

Martin: To get this kind of increase in their abilities, right? I can guarantee you that a Slack license or the productivity chat program is going to cost you more than the cost that they identify to increase the ventilation. The cost in this study was associated with forty dollars per employee, per year, and the productivity gain that they estimated was six thousand five hundred dollars per employee. Ventilation air quality is a no-brainer ROI calculation. I don't understand why more people are not taking this seriously.

If you want to go deeper on this because there's a limit on how much we can talk about in the webinar here, I highly recommend you pick it up, it's got pride of place on my bookshelf here, this book came out last year: Healthy Buildings by Professor Joseph Allen. He summarizes this study and other studies and really makes a very good fine point as to why we need to have healthy buildings, and what they really, well, and I think if you're responsible for a building operating or managing a portfolio of buildings, he drives on the point, based on all the research that we've been looking at so far, you have a bigger impact on the people within those buildings than those people's doctors. 

That's something to reflect on, particularly as we go over our fourth topic, Tamir.

Tamir: Yeah, which really is about, you know, what do we do with all these trends, you know? How do we, how does this impact building operators, and how do we bring this down the level to something a bit more practical?

Democratization of Air Quality Tracking

So we've drawn up this really really simplified building where you can see in the animation, you know, there's a possibility to circulate or ventilate the air, and what we understand is that there's now a need to be a little bit more sophisticated with that. Because of this balancing act, we need to you know we can now integrate those sensors, indoor sensors, that can dynamically react to indoor levels of pollution, and also data from the outside that helps to understand what's happening outside, so that our controllers can be more intelligent, I mean, that's what digital brings for us, right? It makes it so much simpler today to be able to deal with the different threats and the possibilities that we have indoor and outdoor.

Martin: Yeah, and dynamically change throughout the day for how your building is being used and what's happening outside that building. Another thing if you're a building operator or managing buildings what you need to keep in mind, and I give you a hint here, it's around these building certifications that are emerging as focusing on the indoor environment as, back to Tamir’s seesaw here, where we saw this balancing out between the health and well-being and cognition of the people inside the building and the energy usage of the building. 

Traditionally, the building certifications have probably predominantly focused on the energy footprint, the environmental footprint of our buildings, but these indoor environment certifications Reset, Well, Fitwel, you've got AirRated in the UK, really gave guidance now to me, how can we help regain this balance and focus on the health and well-being of the people inside the building. 

So reset, sensor-driven certification, Well, more holistic looking at the whole environment inside your building, so I recommend looking into it and getting inspiration from these for how we can help rebalance our built environment.

One of the aspects I particularly want to highlight here, and this goes back to my point about transparency and access to data for the people within the building, is that all of these standards actually have elements that require the building that wants to be certified to share and promote air quality awareness throughout the building. 

So this is taken from the Well standard, where they specify that you need to have a display throughout the building, at certain intervals, that show the air quality data to the inhabitants, and also organize these air quality education sessions, at regular intervals, to help spread and teach people why they need to take the air they breathe more seriously.

Tamir: And you did some cool stuff around that, right?

Martin: Well, I tried, I tried to, so staying a bit in tune with this on product development last year, which I really enjoyed and really really kicked down, so how do you foster more engagement to air quality and make it more than just a sensor that's hanging on the wall? 

So what we did is we developed this simple way to generate a unique QR code for each of the air quality sensors throughout your building. Hang them up next to you in the meeting rooms or in their common areas, and then, we're all walking around with these QR code scanners in our pockets, right? That's a great interface there already. So you scan it and you get real-time data for the space in the meeting room you're just about to enter, so you can check that it has the optimal air quality levels to make that strategic decision in the next meeting.

Tamir: Yeah, and it's interesting because we've done some really cool stuff ourselves with the company called Cowboy around planning your cleanest route. And, if you think about that indoor-outdoor continuum, you know, Airthings is very focused on indoor BreezoMeter on outdoor, but the tenant of the building, the resident, who cares about the air they breathe wherever they go. So perhaps the building should be thinking about, the building manager, the facilities manager, should be thinking about not only protecting the tenant when they're inside, but also on their way to work, on their way back from work, on their way to school, on their way back from school, and in that way giving them that sort of 365   protection from air quality and awareness, and raise that awareness.

Martin: Because the application here, it roots you to the cleanest route between a and b, right?

Tamir: Correct. 

Martin: So maybe similarly, Tamir, I got an idea here. What about if we combine this QR code functionality, so if you're exiting the building you can scan it and say find me the cleanest route home, and then, like, the building owner or operator is taking responsibility for the people inside the building to get home safely as well? 

Tamir: Product development on the fly. 

Martin: It’s happening. You saw it here first guys.

Tamir: These are great examples really of how you can turn data into useful insights, grow that awareness, and then it really becomes circular in terms of demand and in terms of really making people healthier, because we're all drowning, drowning in the amount of data.

Turning Data Into Insights

Martin: Yeah, and I think that's definitely one of them, maybe a good point to finish on this, how do we avoid then, something I alluded to at the beginning of the webinar, right? How do we, and it's probably one of the topics that we think of most about, Tamir, is how do we go from raw data, sensor data, air quality data into something actionable and relatable?

I think one of the challenges we have is that we can so easily get drowned. This is the Airthings Wave Plus, it's got seven sensors that are monitoring holistically your indoor environment every five minutes. In total, that is seven thousand three hundred and six, no, seven hundred thirty-six thousand eight hundred and forty data points in a single year. The amount of data, multiply this for a whole office building, it's just beyond anyone's comprehension to process and understand themselves.

So we do have to convert all of this data that we're gathering into something that's actionable, that's something people can relate to and actually, to the degree that they can actually make improvements in their life whether it's at home in their offices or at schools. I think that's the responsibility of anyone working within air quality today. How do we make this step? We can't talk about ppms, ppbs, micrograms per cubic, we have to talk about actual actions, right?

Tamir: Yeah, yeah, and that's exactly the direction we're going with BreezoMeter as well, in terms of insights instead of just pumping people with more and more data and environmental data that means a lot to us but not necessarily to the consumer. It's about how we turn that and make things more... just recommended highly personalized insights for that person at the right time at the right location, and then go from a lot of data to something that's really really personalized. 

Summing It All Up

I think with that, in summary, you know, we've walked through those five questions, five trends that all touch on sort of, that touch on that continuum the indoor and outdoor, and we could probably talk about this for hours, but we'd love to continue the discussion…

Martin: We have been talking about this for hours, Tamir.

Tamir: We have. So really, continue the discussion with the people who have joined the webinar, and hear what questions they've come to us, so… Julia Roberts, Ronit, can you maybe let us know what questions have come up?

Q&A Section

Ronit: We've had an active Linkedin chat going on as you guys have been speaking, I see that you noticed. First of all, thank you so much, what an exciting presentation guys. This is your turn everyone, all you guys in attendance, send in your questions, some of you have started, I appreciate it, keep them coming. Let's see how many we can answer without going over too much in time.

We've got the first one for you, Tamir. Let's see:

How easy is it to connect the outdoor data into my indoor air quality algorithms?

Tamir: Right, so yeah, I mean, we spoke a lot about digital and did lots of diagrams, but BreezoMeter is a REST API that's very easy to address from pretty much any programming language, and... one second Martin. You can go onto our site and really just test it out, and that's really the amazing thing about digital. What we're doing is trying to make this data available to you easily, simply, and then that's really about the rules that you can build in the controllers or in the different algorithms of rules that you set up. Sorry, Martin.

Martin: I was going to help you out with firsthand experience. I've programmed with the BreezoMeter APImyself, and I know it's incredibly easy to get started, to get those data points, stream them into your system, whether it's, as long as you have access to the internet and can cover an API, you can get that data into your, I imagine this is in a building control system? So it's a very well-documented API, it's a delight to work with, and that's why we're using it in Airthings as well. It's not a coincidence that we're having this webinar together. We do consume the BreezoMeter API. 

Tamir: Thanks, Martin.

Ronit: Thanks, guys. The next one is for you, Martin, and it's actually a combination of several questions that have been asked so I think you could probably take it all at once because they're, you know, relevant. 

The first thing that is in this category: when exploring indoor air quality what metrics should we focus on? 

And in line with this, maybe not if you want to answer it separately: Airthings For Business, can you describe your API and what integration opportunities are available? 

The same person asks: What's ahead for Airthings? 

And I think that they might be following your Linkedin feed as I am, and I’ve seen the latest video update with a teaser for something coming out, so if you want to field those for us we'd be happy…

Martin: I'll start, the first one I can't say much about, there are some teasers out there, but I think, with being we're a listed company being on the stock exchange, I can't dilute any details, just let me just say this much: I’d be very excited, if I were you, to go to the Airthings.com website on the 11th of march and you'll be possible, if you have any thoughts about air quality managing, there'll be an unveiling no one's ever seen before in the air quality milieu. Of course, that's biased.

The second, let me detect them backwards then, the second question, in terms of the API: again, I’ve also used the Airthings API, it's very easy to use. The integration opportunities are twofold today so there's a REST API akin to BreezoMeter. I’m not sure if BreezoMeter also offers a webhook subscription? That's not how we're using it but could well be. So that's an even easier way to just subscribe to data and get into your system. 

If you're, I’m not sure what context you're asking the question, but if you want locally available data through kind of a more specific building control systems, get in touch with us we do have solutions there, we do have integrations with BMS systems like Niagara, Node-Red, for example, and other providers of that where we have everything's data being streamed through a building control system.

The third one, what parameter, no, the first one, which is what parameters should you care about in indoor air quality monitoring: I would definitely, it's all top of mind, the most important ones to be conscious of particularly these days is, of course, CO2 that we talked about. I would also be, depending on where in the world you are, there are some local variations on the outdoor pollutants that might impact your indoor environment. But CO2 is pretty much a global one I would concern myself with. 

As catch-all parameters, something called volatile organic compounds, and those are essentially the chemicals gassings of furniture and the things that we bring in to decorate our space, and they can be quite harmful and irritants. So, CO2, VOCs, and then of course, as Tamir mentioned in the beginning, particulate matter are tiny, tiny dust particles and the ones that we need to worry about are the ones that are invisible to the naked eye, so they're less than or we say PM2.5. So those will be the top three that I would worry about in terms of air quality, and of course, both temperature and humidity do impact our health and our well-being in certain ways and can be good indicators of other things. So for example, you can do a mold risk indication by having temperature and humidity monitoring. 

I'm going to stop there because I can keep going.

Ronit: Thanks, Martin. We'll send out your contact information as well so they can always follow up for sure. 

I have two I think that could also go to Tamir, maybe I'll ask them to take it together, you could take them separately, somebody is talking about air quality in general, and finding it very difficult to find air quality that is sufficiently local, I think that probably that's something that you could talk about in terms of what   BreezoMeter offers. And the second question, which probably also Martin can talk to, but, how exactly do you offer insights? So, in what way do we transfer raw data into insights, and what, you know, how do you show results to customers?

Tamir: Yeah, okay, so on the local front, that's really the core reason that BreezoMeter exists. You know, traditionally, outdoor air quality is available from monitoring stations and government monitoring stations who have good levels of accuracy but are very very dispersed, and BreezoMeter is, really that's the core of our product, is bringing together, with the power of big data, bringing together all the reliable data sources, from government monitoring stations, from satellite data, from weather data, from information, from traffic data, down to every segment of road globally, to be able to, today we can bring data down to a 500-meter resolution, and that's pretty much a city block level, anywhere across the world in 100 countries, and down to street-level, five-meter at a street level. 

So the science that's available today, the technology that's available, is enabling us to do that, what we were not able to do in the past. Regarding insights, I think that's really really critical. 

So, one of the first ways in which we've been doing that is translating the data from particles per billion, etc, into really simple thresholds. Then those thresholds, based on research per segment, so we can tell you what are the health impacts, not only on the general population but on people with asthma conditions, people with heart conditions, people, maybe women who are pregnant, children, because we know the research shows us that each one of those segments of the population is more or less susceptible to specific pollutants. 

And so, using that we can use thresholds, and then basically give recommendations for behavior, you know: this is a good time to go outside if you're an asthmatic because air quality is good for you. Or, this is a good time to close your windows, right? Or hang up your washing now because pollen is going to be high tomorrow. 

So that's one level of insight. But you'll be on the other side of it is things like cleanest route, and more types of ideas like this that are actually going to be released over the next year, and as a framework that will enable anyone using the BreezoMeter API to push out those insights and not just the data. Martin, do you want to add to that on the indoor side?

Martin: I think I can, I’ll follow up afterward, in the interest of time let's see if there are more questions for now. But I think there are similar analyses we can do on the indoor environments as well. And a lot of it is now focused on how can we optimize your control algorithms that Tamir was into, based on the air quality or sensor data that we make available, to ensure that you have optimally, the seesaw balance we talked about, to ensure that you have an optimal indoor environment and you're using just the right amount of energy, whether it's for heating, whether for your ventilation or for your cooling, to maintain that.

Ronit:  Thanks, guys. I think we're going to wrap it up for now. If we didn't get to your questions, we will be following up with you after. For those who asked, again, we're going to send the recording tomorrow, and we will try to make the presentation available as well in the coming weeks because a couple of you asked about that. 

We got some great feedback, and already I want to give a huge huge thanks to Tamir and to Martin for joining us. I enjoyed it, I know that those who've written in and enjoyed it so far. It's really been a pleasure, and thanks to everyone in attendance, for listening in and for sending in your questions, and we hope to see you all on the next webinar.

And if you were really excited, please share on your social channels, let everyone know that you had a good time. And as I mentioned, we'll follow up with Martin's contact information, so if you have more questions about Airthings or you just want to chat with Martin…

Martin: I’m always open for a chat. I’m sitting at my home office always open for a chat about air quality. So just reach out on LinkedIn and we'll be in touch.

Ronit: There you go.

Martin: Thank you, guys. Really nice sharing the stage with you Tamir. Thank you Ronit for organizing and your brilliant energy and humor. It's been fun, guys.

Ronit: Back at you.

Tamir: Thank you. Thanks, Martin.

Martin: I’m from Norway, I say adjø. Mic drop.Ronit: Bye everyone.