Frequently Asked Questions

Q:What does the project do, in a nutshell?

A:We have explored some of the potential services that may be made available to the public once broadband internet connections become commonplace, specifically those relating to monitoring and improving our built environment.

Q:What is an e-Service?

A:Traditionally an e-Service is taken to mean an electronic service. This is a service provided over the internet, that adds value that only the internet can provide. We've expanded the definition to encompass environmental services and energy services in this context, also.

Q:What is a smarthome?

A:A smarthome is a 'connected house', wired or wireless, for which parameters can be monitored and changed. There are many exciting possibilities for this technology.

Q:Why choose these services to demonstrate?

A:Some e-Services have been explored in detail before. Demand side management over the internet comes into this category. We wanted to explore another aspect of smarthomes with environmental relevance. Air quality issues were the obvious choice.

Q:What, explicitly, are the benefits of this project?

A:We hope that we have shown how energy services will be run in the future and how they provide benefits both to the customer and to the provider. We have also looked at the feasibility of creating an service of this nature at the current time.

Q:Is the Ericsson e-box integral to the project?

A:The Ericsson e-box is a pioneering home gateway project, enabling trials, demonstrations and implementations of broandband services. We can expect a lot of competition in this area in the future. We believe our demonstration is general enough to be applied to any home gateway.

Q:Who will pay for this?

A:One of the points we want to stress is that broadband is an ongoing process; currently driven by fast internet access and video on demand alone. We can expect broadband access and takeup to expand in the same way that mobile phone access has. Once broadband is ubiquitous, extra services can be provided at low cost.
We would contend that environmental and safety services will save money in the long term, leading to a healthier populace and less hospital admission. It can be provided as an extra service in rented accomodation, ensuring an occupant's safety and enforcing the proper care of a home. We would expect these e-Services to be attractive to health authorities and to landlords.

Q:What kind of timescale do you envisage before this is viable?

A:The future is very difficult to predict. Broadband uptake is changing rapidly in the UK. However, pilot schemes should be viable now, under certain conditions.

Q:Should my company/government/community invest in this?

A:You should certainly bear it in mind when considering the future.

Q:Isn't the internet a bit slow for this kind of vital safety service,
shouldn't you just call the morgue instead?

A:This internet service is provided above and beyond the requirements of the BSI for CO detectors. It is in addition to a clear sounding alarm. In the worst case scenario, it is no worse than no internet connection.
Our secondary services (monitoring low level CO, Humidity) are not strictly time critical, although a fast response is of course beneficial.

Q:Isn't monitoring CO levels at low ppm of marginal benefit?

A:CO can be a very dangerous pollutant, and some individuals are more at risk than others. It is believed that there are subtle health problems associated with even low levels of CO.
Our mock-up service emphasises the connection between low level CO monitoring and individuals who are particularly at risk. Outdoor environmental conditions may compound this. We believe that this service can be tailored to the highest risk groups, living in the highest risk areas.

Q:Isn't your algorithm for detecting mould too simple and lacking a few extra parameters?

A:We see it as a guideline for further investigation. As ever, the balance between utility and cost is a factor here.

Q:Does a safety manager really need to see all these graphs?

A:A service could also be provided on a mobile phone for inspectors. Although graphical information is useful for quick assesment of any problem, it is not mandatory.

Q:Have you done any economic modelling for this project?

A:The economic circumstances for the introduction of these services are in a state of flux. Although the project is dealing with new and immature technology, it seems that the eventual introduction of home gateways can be taken as given.

Q:How could this project be taken further?

A:There are many other parameters that can be monitored in the built environment, which could be added to the service. New services can also be created through more complex analysis of the data gathered.

Q:Will it create jobs?

A:H&S operatives are required to operate the service. The service may create more demand for H&S inspectors, whilst also saving money on health and built environment issues.

Q:Will RF sensors create health problems?

A:This has become a concern in recent years, as mobile phones have been alleged to cause damage to the brain with prolonged use. It is important to stress that our RF sensors do not produce such a powerful signal as mobile phones, nor will they be in close proximity to people's heads. They will be joining an array of devices in the home that communicate through RF, as well as commercial radio station waves that pass through the body continuously.