Brisbane daycare The Gap Cubbyhouse Montessori taps Zeplin and Thinxtra for clean air tech

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Brisbane daycare The Gap Cubbyhouse Montessori taps Zeplin and Thinxtra for clean air tech

The Gap Cubbyhouse Montessori in Brisbane has used a new Internet of Things (IoT) deployment to improve the air quality in its childcare centres, tapping two Australian companies for the deployment.

Thinxtra and Zeplin were engaged by the school to deploy indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring devices to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to mitigate indoor COVID-19 transmission risk.

The long daycare centre caters to children between the ages of six weeks and six years, specialising in the Early Years Learning Framework, Montessori, and Steiner & Reggio Emilia educational systems.

Once the centre reopened after pandemic lockdowns, Director of The Gap Cubbyhouse Montessori, Sue-Ling Lau recognised the need for an IAQ monitoring solution to reduce the risk of transmission of airborne diseases like COVID-19, and boost the overall health and wellbeing of the Montessori community at The Gap.

“All childcare centres face the same threat of virus transmission, and by knowing the CO2 levels in a room you can not only make informed decisions to minimise COVID-19 transmission but all airborne diseases,” she said.

“It wasn’t enough to just open the windows and get air purifiers; these are crucial, but we needed to understand the baseline of air quality in all parts of the centre.”

The centre engaged Brisbane-based Zeplin to implement its IAQ Monitoring Solution, comprising IoT sensors that measure CO2, temperature, and humidity levels.

The battery-powered devices have a life of up to five years and require no ongoing maintenance requirements. The data recorded by the sensors is transmitted in real-time over Thinxtra’s national 0G Network, and available to view in Zeplin’s remotely accessible, cloud-based application.

“Since I don’t always work on-site, I wanted a way to see the CO2 levels remotely, and that’s where the Zeplin and Thinxtra system came in. It proved a very attractive option as it created visibility into air quality across all indoor spaces, with the ability to access data at any time, plus the benefit of live notifications,” said Lau.

The Gap Montessori installed IAQ monitoring devices across the venue’s classrooms, offices, and corridors, each with sensors that provide reliable data through Zeplin’s mobile and web applications.

The centre receives alerts when maximum threshold limits for IAQ are reached, allowing Lau to advise employees working on-site to change the conditions in each respective room.

“Having real-time data on CO2 levels, humidity, and temperature available helps us take the right measures to maintain the health and wellbeing of the children and staff. It lets us know when to open windows, move outside, and even ensure children are hydrated and dressed appropriately in hotter months. Poor ventilation also has an impact on cognitive ability and therefore productivity, so lowering CO2 levels means no one feels tired or groggy, giving us a more optimal learning environment for children,” said Lau.

“It has been quite eye-opening to see the CO2 threshold alerts come through. We did not realise how high CO2 levels could get even in a low-density suburb like The Gap. Initially, we were getting alerts several times per day but now need less with procedures in place to increase airflow. Our trigger point is 800 parts per million (ppm) – which is an acceptable level of CO2. Complaints of drowsiness and poor air quality start once CO2 exceeds 1000ppm. These levels were surprisingly common at our centre when we first installed the monitors.

“Parents have told me they feel very reassured we’re doing everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at our childcare centre, with daily deep cleaning of our facilities, weekly rapid antigen testing for staff, and now the CO2 monitors.”

Justin Appi, director at Zeplin, said, “Sue and I discussed setting thresholds based on recommended standards, giving The Gap Cubbyhouse a solution that triggers alerts based on their preferred attributes which can be adjusted any time.

Alongside opening windows, using air purifiers, and turning air conditioners to the fresh air intake, CO2 monitors are a must-have in daycare centres and schools.”

Thinxtra CEO Nicholas Lambrou said, “When it comes to reducing the spread of airborne viruses, it’s incredibly difficult to control what you can’t see. With Zeplin and Thinxtra, The Gap Montessori has a solution which can monitor indoor air quality that helps the daycare centre provide a healthier and safer environment for children and staff; they are able to breathe cleaner air and perform better in well-ventilated spaces that have lowered risks of airborne virus transmission.”

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