DHSC signs potential £300k deal for sensors to monitor desk occupancy in Leeds and London

Deal will also see technology deployed in meeting rooms and recreation areas

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

The Department of Health and Social Care has signed a contract worth a potential £300,000 to fit sensors to measure occupancy at desks, meeting rooms and recreation areas at its offices in London and Leeds.

Newly published procurement information reveals that today marks the start of an initial two-year deal between the department and FM:Systems, a firm that specialises in sensors and other workplace-management technologies and services. At least £145,740 will be spent via the engagement – and as much £291,480, plus VAT, if it runs to its maximum four-year term.

The deal addresses the installation of technology at DHSC’s headquarters on London’s Victoria Street and its Quarry House office in Leeds.

The contract covers the provision of “maintenance, reporting and [and] analytical platform for desk sensors” at the two locations. 

“The sensors monitor occupancy at desks, in meetings rooms and on collaborative furniture including the coffee lounges [and] tea points,” the contract said. “Additional sensors monitor environmental factors.”

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According to the FM:Systems website, its technology constitutes a “multi-function sensor that not only captures utilisation data, but can also detect temperature, noise, light, air pressure and air quality”.

“Our automated and integrated workplace sensor platform offers real-time, objective data on occupancy and utilization with passive, infrared IoT sensors,” the site added. Data visualisations in our analytics dashboard yield insights into underused and under-performing spaces.”

The issue of the level of occupancy of government buildings has been the subject of sharp disagreement in recent months between unions and ministers, several of whom – most notably Jacob Rees-Mogg – have publicly exhorted officials still working from home to return to the office.

The new DHSC deal is not the first such contract the department has signed, however, with FM:Systems having previously been awarded a one-year deal in 2019 to provide the department with sensor technology to “analyse its level of workspace utilisation over multiple sites”. That deal was valued at £16,661 – about a fifth of the annual amount to be spent via the new contract, suggesting that the sensors may be used far more widely this times.

Other government entities making use of the company’s monitoring technology include the Food Standards Agency, which last year signed a two-year contract for the provision of an “office utilisation tool and sensors to FSA’s York and Birmingham offices”.


Sam Trendall

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