2018 Predictions - Trends in Lone Worker Monitoring, Alerting and Communications
In this post we take a look at emerging trends for lone worker protection and place six experienced bets on what the next 12 months holds.
1) Falling Lone Worker Hardware costs Let’s start with a couple of easy ones first. Continual advances in technology have been driving down the costs of hardware. For example, where you used to need very deep pockets for indoor positioning beacons, each requiring its own power source, now devices are a fraction of that cost and will run quite happily on batteries that last a year. You simply fix them to the wall using strong adhesive and you're good to go. No drilling through masonry, no running power cables to each device. It’s no surprise that we see this trend of falling hardware costs continuing in 2018.
2) Automation Increasing Similarly, we've seen a rise in automated solutions replacing the need for traditional call centre buildings and staff solutions. New technology has a habit of sweeping away the need for older designs and approaches, and lone worker protection is no different. Older technologies like radio are being replaced by mobile technologies. These technologies are more flexible and affordable, allowing companies to evolve their working practices and their protection solutions without having to go cap in hand to the bank. Automation bypasses the need for human and physical intervention, allowing alerts to be sent using multiple communication protocols, at the same time if needed, to multiple respondents within seconds. Cost, speed and reliability are the drivers here, and we see an increasing move towards automation.
3) Greater Commercial Productivity Productivity is not something you hear spoken of alongside lone worker protection. It’s usually necessity, compliance or cost. What companies are starting to see is the opportunity to optimise the productivity of their staff with the right lone worker monitoring, alerting and communications systems in place. When two-person jobs can he handled by a lone worker, you have the capacity to double your coverage with the same workforce. Companies are now moving from ‘shift 1’ and ‘shift 2’ to 24-hour shifts. We expect to see more companies moving away from thinking about expenditure and starting to ask about the productivity benefits and returns of comprehensive lone worker protection systems. 4) Fully loaded Lone Worker Mobile Phones
A range of devices is on offer for the varying requirements of companies with lone workforces. Mobile phones, push-to-talk or walkie talkie, alarm buttons, ‘man down’ detection, outdoor and indoor monitoring and positioning, industry-specific demands like ATEX: many companies use a combination of devices and solutions to cater to their requirements. With the advent of mobile technology and software, however, we’ve observed a trend towards using the mobile phone to house all these requirements in the one device. This means that a mobile phone with an open operating system like Android can effectively become whatever you want it to be, removing the need for lone workers to carry multiple devices to stay safe. In the near future we expect to see a continued rise in the preference for fully loaded single mobile devices over multiple custom devices. Consolidating everything you need on one device has advantages for expenditure, implementation and ongoing support.
5) The Intelligent Protection Device
With the rise of the mobile phone as the ‘go to’ device for complete lone worker protection, along with the increasing commercial applications of big data and artificial intelligence, we should also see the emergence of the lone worker protection device that thinks for itself. Your fully loaded smart phone, armed with a smart suit suite of technology, could start taking the initiative in emergency situations, talking to other intelligent devices and deciding on the best alerting methods for first responders and the best course of action for stricken lone workers. In the coming year we should see sizeable strides made towards the intelligent device that acts in the best interests of its owner during a crisis.
6) Erosion of Device Brand Loyalty
For years the family petrol car was standard issue for sales reps and other road warriors. Then companies moved across to diesel vehicles for the better fuel efficiency over long distances. Loyalties will shift to electric cars as technology improves, and car manufacturers without credible eco-offerings will see loyal customers move away from them. So it will happen in lone worker protection too. It’s a question of brand loyalty versus employee safety. As companies’ working conditions change and their protection requirements evolve, they will migrate to devices that have open, collaborative platforms rather than closed, proprietary platforms. Employee safety trumps the need to feel connected using the device you're used to. We expect to see companies’ brand loyalties adapt to their changing working conditions and the changing opportunities of the latest lone worker protection technology.
Feel free to contact us to discuss your 2018 requirements for lone worker monitoring, alerting and communications.