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Planning For 2021: Business Environment Areas You Need to Monitor

As we look forward to entering the new year, it becomes obvious that the biggest value in 2020 is to learn from it. Here are some factors your business should consider as you look to return to the office and plan for 2021.  

Don’t let your organization lose revenue and productivity due to an unexpected outage caused by an environment factor. No business wants to suffer from any outages or downtime. Outages mean lost revenue and productivity, which can cause disaster for an organization if they’re for any prolonged period. Gartner Group estimates that the average cost of business downtime is $5,600 per minute, which equals over $300,000 per hour. If those losses are compounded over several days or even weeks, it could be catastrophic and lead to business closure. Concerned over how much revenue your own organization might lose due to unexpected downtime? Our Downtime Calculator is a tool we created to show businesses how much they can stand to lose in lost productivity and revenue due to unexpected downtime. Check out our Downtime Calculator to see what even just minutes of downtime can cost you. 

When many businesses think of downtime or outages, it’s often related to their network and critical data. Many security and business continuity plans revolve around installing and maintaining a firewall to protect their network, and putting a data backup plan in place in case data is ever corrupted or lost. Those action plans will help protect a business from outages related to their network and data… but don’t cover all the causes of outages. Almost 30% of business outages and data loss are due to environment factors, such as temperature, humidity, flood, power, or smoke. Many of those issues are not monitored by a firewall or network appliance; in fact, many businesses don’t actively monitor them at all. It’s a critical hole in a business continuity plan that can cause downtime just as much as a network outage or data loss event can. If you are concerned about potential weak points in your business continuity plan, or if you don’t yet have a documented plan in place, our free-to-download Business Continuity Checklist provides a general outline of where to start your Continuity Planning efforts to protect your employees, customers and other assets from costly downtime and damages. Monitoring environment factors in your critical business areas can help maintain uptime and productivity, ensure steady revenue, and most importantly, will protect the data and assets your business needs to operate. While many of the following areas may not be found in every business, it’s almost certain that your business will have a good number of them. Monitoring them is vital to maintaining uptime and protecting against outages.

Data Center

Monitoring a data center environment is one of the easiest and most crucial ways to maintain uptime. Many organizations have a local data center, which can run from a small room housing servers and customer data all the way through a separate building with its own dedicated power and HVAC equipment. Regardless of the size or cost of your data center, it’s a critical component of your business – without the customer and/or company product data it maintains, your organization will find itself ground to a halt.   

Keeping a close eye on the network that helps deliver traffic to and from your data center is crucial to its uptime, and many organizations have the equipment and plans in place to do that. It’s the environment factors not monitored by firewalls and switches that can lead to unexpected downtime and data loss that organizations need to be mindful of.  

Temperature is the biggest environmental factor that can negatively impact a data center. If cooling fails during warm weather, the corresponding temperature spike can cause servers to crash and hard drives to fail, losing important data in the process. Even worse, these temperature spikes can happen quickly and without warning, giving a business a very short window of opportunity to put alternative cooling in place. Proactively monitoring the temperature in a data center provides a way to be quickly notified if temperatures exceed certain thresholds, regardless of the time of day. Getting notification of a temperature alert allows for an immediate response to help resolve the issue, which may be in the form of a smaller temporary cooling unit, or perhaps an action as simple as opening a door.    

While temperature is the most commonly thought of environment factor to monitor, humidity in data centers is sometimes overlooked. Relative humidity can be just as critical to uptime and optimal operating conditions as temperature. Too much humidity runs the risk of delicate electrical components rusting and breaking down years before they should. Too little humidity in a data center can lead to static discharge episodes, which can wreak havoc on hard drives and sensitive electronic parts.  

Water is another environmental risk that can cause severe problems if introduced in a data center environment. Burst pipes, leaking windows, broken cooling units leaking condensation or coolant, and quickly melting ice and snow can cause damage to equipment and pose physical risks to employees as well. Monitoring for water and liquids can help avoid everything from a slip and fall to catastrophic data loss. It’s crucial for data center managers and operators to think beyond the standard temperature monitoring to protect their investments.

Wiring and Telecom Closets

Data centers often get the bulk of the attention on environment monitoring due to the sheer amount of hardware and data they contain. Wiring and telecom closets tend to be monitored with less frequency, however, as they’re often overlooked since they are small unmanned spaces. This is a poor oversight, as the equipment in wiring and telecom closets can be just as critical to an organization’s uptime as the data center.  

Wiring closets typically contain several patch panels and switches that are important cogs in any computer network. Many closets also contain various routers and appliances that help deliver internet access to the organization’s network. If any of those appliances were to overheat and fail due to excessive high temperature, the local network (and company productivity) will grind to a halt.  

Many closets also contain telephone system hardware as well that helps direct call transfers along with storing voicemail for employee desk phones. Much like with the network and internet hardware, they are critical to ongoing communication for the organization.   

Closets, due to their nature, are small and often very poorly ventilated. As a result, temperatures can spike very quickly, and often without warning. Appliances will exhaust heat as they operate, and when more equipment is added to a small unventilated space, the temperature can rise dramatically.   

Monitoring the temperature and humidity in wiring closets is important because they often remain closed with no foot traffic; since they are a closet with dedicated use, there is really no need for anyone to be in them. Unlike data centers that often have employees moving in and out on a day to day basis, wiring closets run the risk of having incredibly high temperatures with no one around to notice. Strategically placing remote sensors or small monitors in wiring closets can help save an organization from both downtime as well as costly equipment replacement due to overheating.

Basements and Attics

Often used for storage, and often forgotten about, basements and attics are usually the first areas to be impacted by the cold or by the unexpected introduction of water. Monitoring them on a proactive basis can often provide enough ample warning to stop an environmental issue before it becomes one that impacts day to day operations. Roofs leak. It’s a simple fact of owning a building. It might start due to wind damage, it might be a torrential wind storm or a hurricane, or it might be an ice dam that isn’t taken care of in time. Rest assured, water will at one point find its way into a building through the roof. Even if it’s not a building you own, it may be to your advantage to monitor for water to protect your own assets.  

Water can also easily make its way into basements through foundation cracks or broken window frames. Much like with attics, it’s very beneficial to monitor for water to warn you if you run the risk of water damage to network equipment, paperwork in storage, or any other unused (but not unneeded) equipment or furniture in your basement area.  

Frozen pipes can also cause an incredible amount of expensive damage. Monitoring temperature to ensure it doesn’t dip too low and lead to frozen pipes can help prevent the clear majority of incidents. If for any reason the pipes in your building do freeze and then burst, monitoring for water can help address it quickly before repairs become too costly.

Storage or Unused Areas

Storage or unused areas vary slightly from attic and basements, as they can range anywhere from a few unfinished rooms somewhere within your building to detached sheds or garages. Because these areas are not in day to day use, or even properly furnished in some instances, temperature fluctuations can be much higher. Without proper HVAC infrastructure in place, extreme temperatures can cause damage to materials or merchandise being held in these storage areas.  

Even worse are the episodes where water leaks in an unused area and causes massive amounts of damage to adjoining rooms, or the floor below. Response times in these situations lag simply because the cause of the leaking water goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Monitoring these areas proactively helps prevent environment-related issues from escalating and causing more damage than necessary.   

Detached storage areas such as sheds and garages suffer from the same problem as unused areas, along with attics and basements. Without employee foot traffic in and out of the area on a regular basis, environment issues like excessive temperature and humidity or water leaks can go undetected for far too long. Placing smaller environment monitors, or wireless sensors, in these areas can help organizations proactively keep an eye on potentially damaging factors without a large expense.

Employee Work Spaces

Thankfully employee workspaces are the most watched areas within an organization; with employees in and out of their offices and work areas anywhere from five to seven days per week, potential damage from environmental causes can usually be seen quickly. Of course, off-hours concerns still apply and should lead to monitoring when the facility is closed, at the very least.   

Thermostats can give organizations a glimpse of current temperatures, but normally don’t provide a long-term look at temperature trends (smart thermostats excluded). Nor do they give insight to current humidity levels, which can also impact employee comfort just as much as temperature can. Temperature and humidity changes over time can signal potential problems with the building’s HVAC system. Noticing this trend and providing preventative maintenance can help save larger replacement costs as well as avoiding downtime if employees can’t use your building due to either excessive heat or cold thanks to broken cooling or heating systems.   

Keeping employees in a stable, comfortable environment has been proven to increase productivity and lead to higher overall job satisfaction. Part of that process is ensuring that the temperatures stay constant, and with the move to smart buildings and smart offices, environment monitoring can often lead to temperature automation. This not only helps regulate temperatures on an ongoing basis, it can also help reduce overall heating and cooling costs to help the organization save money.   

Implementing environment monitoring in your business will reduce downtime, potentially help decrease operating costs, and will increase overall company productivity. When organizations think about business continuity, environment monitoring often takes a back seat to data and network security, if it’s even discussed at all. Considering how many potential downtime causes there are that are environment-related, any organization that doesn’t factor in environment monitoring is opening themselves up to many potential outage situations.  

If your organization is monitoring its network with firewalls and software, and it’s physical facilities with alarm systems and cameras, environment monitoring is the next logical step in preventing business downtime and losses. By implementing environment monitoring, you’ll help protect against nearly 30% of the downtime causes that firewalls and alarms simply don’t look for. Proactive monitoring and alerting will help protect your facilities and assets against damage and loss from environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, flood, power loss, smoke, and more, leading to more productivity and higher revenue across the board for your business. 

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Room Alert Manager - Compatible Devices

The latest version of Room Alert Manager supports only the devices below.

It does not support the Room Alert 3 Wi-Fi or any legacy Room Alert or TemPageR models.

Current S modelsCurrent E models
Room Alert 32SRoom Alert 32E
Room Alert 12SRoom Alert 12E
Room Alert 4E
Room Alert 3E