Water infiltration in multifamily buildings has always been an issue of grave concern; leaks can lead to everything from unsightly stains to mold growth to crumbling infrastructure, and can mean hundreds of thousands spent on repairs and replacements. But now, in the wake of the devastating, deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Florida at the end of June - thought to be caused by long-neglected water damage - the importance of detecting leaks related deterioration in high- and mid-rise buildings before it leads to massive loss of property - or even loss of life - has suddenly become a pressing issue for condominium and cooperative administrators.
Along with thermal imaging, visual inspections, and other tried-and-true methods of identifying and tracing leaks back to their origins, some new technology is adding another tool to the arsenal against water damage: water and dampness sensors accessed through the Internet of Things (IoT).
What is the IoT?
In short, the IoT refers to the network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies that can connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet - and these days, it can (and does) include just about everything you can think of.
“The IoT refers to networks of devices and sensors that can monitor, collect and share data about just about anything, from a jogger’s heart rate, to air in car tires, to humidity levels in a wine cellar, to the condition of machinery and equipment in a factory, to a condominium boiler room,” says Hemant Sarma, senior vice president and head of Internet of Things for the insurance firm Chubb. “The number of internet-connected devices and uses for businesses and homeowners is enormous and growing rapidly.”
According to Sarma, IoT ‘smart’ tech is now being applied to monitor and alert users about water leakage before damage has occurred, rather than after - shifting the strategy from remediation to prevention. Chubb reports that many property owners have successfully deployed IoT sensors in residential buildings, private homes, hospitals, research labs, universities, libraries, commercial properties, and even private wine cellars. The technology actively assists property owners to avoid costly and time-consuming repairs.