Behind the Scenes of Lone Working - Part 1
So much of lone working is, as you’d expect, about the lone workers themselves: the people in isolated, hidden or potentially vulnerable situations, their safety, their whereabouts, and the devices they use to stay safe. In the first part of this two-blog-post series we look behind the front-line staff to the systems that are whirring away in the background, providing the platform for monitoring activity and processing alerts.
Monitoring and Alerting Options
The first thing to note is that these kinds of systems can come in different shapes and sizes. Many are flexible enough to accommodate a range of different installation flavours to suit your own circumstances. You can have all the software and hardware installed on your premises. Alternatively, you can have it hosted in the cloud. With remote connected access means you can share the access to one system across different departments or locations. Then again, you may want to outsource all of the monitoring and alerting and pay someone else to provide it as a service.
With the current pace of technology, an important consideration for your investment is longevity. You need to be sure that, having invested in a solution, you’re going to see the return and you can rely on it keeping pace not only with the latest advancements but also your evolving business. If you invest in a call centre-based offering, you're generally paying for their service and their devices. If they discontinue their service for some reason, you don’t want to be stuck with hardware you own but can’t use any more.
When it comes to alerting and responding to alerts, again, you have options according to how you want to operate. You can nominate your own staff to be responders, or you can select a provider to take care of this aspect. The more flexible systems like those from Isle Systems allow you to choose a combination of in-house and external alert and response management, depending on your business requirements. An important point to make here is that you can deliver alerts directly to responders without an intermediary. This makes the delivery of alerts quicker and maintains the integrity of your alert information, since your data is not in more than one place. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the more hops the information passes through the more you increase the chances of there being a misunderstanding or breakdown in this vital process.
To return to the flexible theme again, a good monitoring and alerting system will be device-agnostic. Don’t tie yourself down to a system that will only work with a couple of specific devices. Choose a system which can support a wide range of lone worker smartphones and other devices, even ones you’ve already acquired from a different supplier. This will increase the value of your investment and the longevity of your devices, while also keeping your options open for any future device requirements you may have.
Location, Location, Location
A cornerstone of monitoring and alerting is the location of your lone workers, whether they’re outside or inside your facilities. The more advanced mapping solutions like those from Isle Systems are comfortable with a range of mapping sources. These include internet street mapping services like Google Maps, Bing Maps, or Open Street Maps, as well as your own CAD drawings, site drawings, aerial photographs, digital maps or any other reference images which are to scale. Your responders can access the maps directly on their PC or smartphone.
For issues inside your facilities, you need to accurately and quickly position and locate a lone worker in need of assistance, especially if they’re not easily visible. Your options for doing this are either WiFi and/or low-cost BLE Beacons. These beacons can run off a coin cell battery for up to 3 years, providing indoor positioning accuracy down to less than 5 meters, without the need for installing costly alternative infrastructure.
Keeping your lone workers safe is one thing, but actively tracking your lone workers’ movements is a different question. The Isle Systems monitoring solutions do not need tracking to be able to provide the location of a lone worker alert. All our lone worker devices and apps update their location within the device and only transmit this information in the event of an alert activation. If a GPS position is not available when an alert is activated, the system automatically sends the last known GPS. If a GPS fix becomes available while the alert is still active, our devices and app look to update this position. We can also provide certification that a lone worker cannot be tracked if you need it.
Risk Level Relevance
Finally, where the responder is responding to has important risk implications. Your responders may have to go to a stricken lone worker in a dangerous location. Good monitoring systems can respond with details on the risk level and any other relevant information on each ‘Point of Interest’, based on a GPS coordinate or Beacon location. You should be able to configure your system to define the criteria for each point of interest, and filter them accordingly before providing responses. This means that the specific department or team only get the information relevant to them.
Lone worker monitoring and alerting systems provide the vital ‘back end’ to your key staff out in the field and on the factory floor. There are many considerations to bear in mind for selecting the right system. Aspect from Isle Systems is a range of solutions designed to address all the areas we explore in this post. We develop all the technology, and this control of the solutions allows us to add other features and functionality that your specific situation demands.