Desktop Monitoring: How The Hague City safely returns to office

11 April 2022
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Colleagues going to the office during the pandemic need a safe place to work. Like many organizations, the Municipality of The Hague has adapted its physical office locations to the government's recommendations. However, the municipality also wants to offer flexibility to its employees. In order to centrally monitor whether the workspace is not getting too crowded, and to adjust where necessary, we designed a 1.5 IT Dashboard for the Control Room.

 

Centralized control

The Municipality of The Hague has now been collaborating with Sentia since 2015 on the automation and continuous improvement of its complex IT landscape. One of the key successes has been the development and implementation of the 'Control Room'. 

This Control Room forms a central hub within the municipality where all relevant IT data comes in through the monitoring of business processes, available resources, critical application landscapes, suppliers, and end-user experiences, to name a few.

"The end-to-end monitoring contributes to our goal of offering our employees a truly modern workplace. Because IT staff and business managers now all have access to the same information via clear dashboards, we are able to respond more quickly, collaborate better, and make data-driven decisions."
- René de Vos, Manager Control Room at the Municipality of The Hague

 When the government announced a partial 'return to office', the need for a safe workplace quickly arose, compliant with the health regulations, but without compromising the freedom of employees or spending on expensive new systems. From within the Control Room, the 1.5m IT Dashboard was able to be developed in a short period of time and with minimal effort.

Real-time occupancy

In the system, workstations are marked as 'safe' and 'unsafe'. Then the dashboard shows in real-time which workstations are in use, and what the occupancy is per location, per shift, and per floor. The capacity utilization of a location is central. This is calculated on the basis of the number of 'authorized' workstations. If at a location 1350 workstations have been marked as 'safe', and 850 computers have been started, then the premises have an occupancy rate of 63%. 100% occupancy means that basically all workstations are active and therefore no additional employees can work safely.

 Not delimiting the 'unsafe' workplaces 100% was a key requirement, which standard booking tools did not resolve. Using the dashboard, the security control room now knows when a location is in danger of becoming too crowded and, if necessary, can intervene and provide an alternative solution.

"When a floor is fully occupied, we don't want to force that one unlucky individual to join another department. In that case, we'd rather rearrange tables and screens or find another space for that team."

At the end of each week, the 1.5m Committee and the Municipal Management Team receive a report that allows them to decide whether they can allow for more workplaces. If it turns out that certain divisions are significantly more office-based, management can also decide to provide them with more floor space.

 

Example Sentia Dashboard Municipality The Hague

The occupancy rate per building (top row)

The number of active computers per building (middle row)

Specific data per floor, in this case Spui (bottom row)

Active 'unauthorized' workstations and where they are located (red)

 

 

Working with in-house solutions

Sentia previously integrated various tooling into Control Room to closely monitor the stability and performance of IT components. Think of monitoring the digital end-user experience (Dynatrace), the performance of applications and workstations, but also deploying machine learning to prevent impending incidents. The monitoring information is then analyzed and visualized using the data platform Splunk. Because both tooling on the workstations (Nexthink) and the tooling for data collection were already present, the dashboard could be set up quickly and inexpensively.

"The premise was to set up the dashboard as simply as possible, without expensive sensors to track movements. We chose an approach whereby if someone logs in to a fixed workstation, we know for sure that there is a person in the building. So by tracking the number of active workstations, we know how many people are present. The solution only looks at whether a workstation is active, not who is active, so that the privacy of employees and data is not compromised."

- Helge Kooistra, 1.5m project manager for the Municipality of The Hague

Moving towards the modern workplace

The 1.5-meter dashboard gives the Municipality of The Hague a grip on a healthy return to the office. But this development also adds a long-term contribution to the organization's modern workplace. "This crisis has taught us that we can do without the traditional fixed workplace. Of course, we want to welcome our people back to our offices as soon as possible. But working from home or visiting a different office will become a lot easier."

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