Home­grown app pro­vides lone work­ers with sense of se­cu­rity

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY LINA GIANNAROU

A Greek soft­ware com­pany based in the north­west­ern town of Ioan­nina is hav­ing a global im­pact thanks to a new app pro­tect­ing lone work­ers. “Lone work­ers” is the term used to de­scribe em­ploy­ees who work in iso­la­tion from oth­ers, with­out close or di­rect su­per­vi­sion of any sort, hu­man or elec­tronic. They in­clude of­fice clean­ers, truck driv­ers, ma­chine oper­a­tors, main­te­nance per­son­nel, postal de­liv­ery of­fi­cers and se­cu­rity guards, among many oth­ers, and their num­bers are ris­ing world­wide. It is es­ti­mated, for ex­am­ple, that in the UK alone, lone work­ers rep­re­sent 22 per­cent of the to­tal work­force, due mainly to new tech­nol­ogy that al­lows dis­tance work, cou­pled with the ris­ing costs of rent­ing and run­ning an of­fice.

The phe­nom­e­non is shak­ing up the la­bor mar­ket but also creat­ing new needs in the area of worker safety. Lone work­ers of­ten per­form tasks that can be­come rou­tine, ex­pos­ing them to more risks than peo­ple who work in an en­vi­ron­ment where there is close over­sight and other work­ers who will no­tice if some­thing goes wrong. The big­gest chal­lenge is that they have no one to turn to for help in the event of an ac­ci­dent or, say, an at­tack. In some cases, such as train or truck driv­ers, such in­ci­dents put other lives at risk too.

Founded in 1999, Ter­ra­com has been ex­plor­ing so­lu­tions to this prob­lem for years. In 2014 it launched the QR-Pa­trol ap­pli­ca­tion, a sys­tem for manag­ing se­cu­rity pa­trols and which is to­day used by 700 com­pa­nies in 50 coun­tries. It has now ex­panded its scope with MyLoneWork­ers, an in­no­va­tive sys­tem that fo­cuses on manag­ing and mon­i­tor­ing lone work­ers via in­ter­net of things tech­nol­ogy (push-to-talk no­ti­fi­ca­tions, bea­cons etc), al­low­ing re­al­time su­per­vi­sion from a dis­tance.

“It’s ba­si­cally an on­line sys­tem for mon­i­tor­ing lone work­ers that is based on cloud tech­nol­ogy and is sup­ported by all new-gen­er­a­tion de­vices (an­droid, iPhone/iPad, Black­berry OS 10 and above) and uses NFC tags, QR codes and bea­cons,” ex­plains Alex­ios Foukis, ac­count man­ager at Ter­ra­com In­for­mat­ics. “The worker uses a smart­phone to scan the var­i­ous check­points (NFC and/or QR codes and/or bea­cons) placed on build­ings in the vicin­ity and the con­trol room is in­stantly in­formed of any new in­ci­dent in the work area. Ev­ery in­ci­dent re­port in­di­cates the worker’s lo­ca­tion through Wi-Fi and GSM net­works.”

Foukis says that the app al­lows lone work­ers to con­tact the con­trol cen­ter fast if some­thing goes wrong and also al­lows com­pa­nies to have bet­ter over­sight of the work be­ing done for them from a dis­tance.

“A ho­tel cleaner as­signed 10 rooms, for ex­am­ple, can check in when he or she is done, or re­ceive new in­struc­tions from the su­per­vi­sor,” says Foukis.

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