The Future of Work: Sibedge Powers a Smart Office

Смарт офис (ENG).jpgAs part of the Smart Office pet project, Sibedge engineers are creating an office of the future. Not only it reduces the cost of infrastructure, but also makes the work of employees more comfortable by integrating and automating IT systems.

The concept

The vision for the future platform began to take shape in early 2022. One of our requirements for the product was the ability to interconnect internal systems and equipment from different manufacturers. After examining the solutions on the market, we realized that they are closed-loop: it was almost impossible to make changes or add new features. That is why we started developing our own smart office.

The first step was to develop a Physical Access Control System (PACS). It was time to move away from traditional metal keys and replace them with plastic cards, bracelets or key fobs. This would solve several issues:

  • New employees would not have to wait long to duplicate office keys. New access card could be created in a few minutes.
  • Instead of a bunch of keys, there would be one door-access card or bracelet.
  • An employee who came to the development center from an office in another city or country can continue to use his or her card.
  • If the access card is lost, it can be remotely deactivated to prevent unwanted guests.
  • Following an employee leaving, their card can also be deactivated remotely.

Depending on their positions, employees have access only to those rooms where they are allowed to enter. For example, a developer can get into the office, meeting rooms, and the kitchen. But s/he cannot enter the accounting department, executive offices and other rooms where s/he is not supposed to be.

Technologies and equipment

We developed our software in Python and used Django as a framework. Accounts and keys are stored in a database managed by PostgreSQL and Redis DBMS. The access control system is written in such a way that it allows you to add new countries, cities, buildings, offices and users to it. In other words, physical infrastructure elements are integrated into the program. We called this "seamless access". For example, development offices may have the same access rights for all developers, regardless of their city or country of residence.

We chose the equipment very carefully. Engineers tried many models of PACS controllers and chose Iron Logic Z-5R (Web) because of the open protocol and high reliability. The device offered a wide range of programming options, supported the connection of many external devices and different protocols for readers, including Dallas TM (iButton) and Wiegand 26/34/42/50. We chose a reader that supported Em-Marine, HID and Mifare identification formats as well as LED and buzzer control.

The controller connects to the system via a cable or Wi-Fi protocol. But it can work even without an Internet connection. Built-in memory holds 8168 digital keys, so when the network is off in the office, it lets only authorized employees into the premises. If power goes out, an external backup power source will supply the device.

Thanks to a non-volatile clock and dedicated memory, Iron Logic Z5R stores up to 8192 records of 20 types of events. Here are just a few of them:

  • Employee ID and time entry to the office.
  • An attempt of unauthorized access.
  • An attempt to physically break the lock.
  • System errors.

Additionally, we decided to use time zones. Registered users were divided into seven groups. For example, cleaners get access to the premises during the time for cleaning and employees of the company during working hours. Management has round-the-clock access to all premises. Specific employees have access to offices on weekends.

Integration and testing

At the moment, the access control and management system is being tested in one of the Sibedge development centers. Engineers see how employees use new locks and cards, listen to their wishes and gradually improve the system by adding new features.

The project team consists of four specialists: a team leader, a project manager, a backend developer, and an installation specialist.

Platform potential

In the future, we will integrate access control systems and other smart systems into a single Smart Office platform. Here are some of its features and benefits:

  • Auto turn on/off and setup of audio-visual equipment.
  • Smart lights, curtains and blinds to save up to 40% of electricity.
  • Climate control according to the work schedule and the season to save up to 35% of electricity.
  • The security system with PACS, video surveillance, fire and security alarms, emergency situations monitoring.

Smart Office will react to certain events. For example, an employee opens a meeting room with a card. As the room is booked for his name in the corporate system, the colleagues see that the room is busy. It automatically turns on the light, air conditioning with a suitable temperature and video equipment. The employee can immediately start working.

Right now, the team is creating a dashboard for managing smart systems. With it, administrators will see where the lights are on or off, what temperature and humidity levels are, and much more.

The developers also plan to build a mobile app with full integration of the company's services. It will open the office without a key card simply by putting a smartphone to the lock. The application will allow you to see where colleagues are located on a virtual map to find them easily in the office.

The Smart Office at Sibedge is the first step towards the office of the future, which, like a smart home, will make the life of employees more comfortable.