A solution for promoting and maintaining occupational health and safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Matthew Lowe, Co-Founder and CEO, ZeroKey
It is no secret that the pandemic has shifted how most businesses operate. Business leaders, especially those in industrial environments, are dealing with massive shifts in consumer behaviour, government legislation that stops and starts, and daily research updates from all corners of the earth. They have complex workforces that are either very willing or not willing to adhere to protocol, and above all else there is the looming question that permanently sits in the back of their mind: What if we have an outbreak?
There are no case studies to read.
There is no time to experiment.
There is no consultant with experience.
The reality is that not everyone can work from home. Returning to pre-pandemic scale (and beyond) requires dealing with the twin consequences of a COVID case: the employees’ health and safety, and the business shutdown. Even in the best of times, the balancing act between protecting the bottom-line versus managing employee safety, morale or productivity has always been a challenge. The pandemic has exacerbated that problem and the reality is that businesses cannot afford to neglect either.
We believe that businesses can actually protect their people and their bottom-line at the same time. Protection and production are not mutually exclusive.
So how did we solve that problem at ZeroKey? We used our expertise in high-accuracy indoor positioning to develop an enterprise-grade solution that keeps employees safe and businesses running. While there are plenty of companies offering a variety of technology solutions to track where people are and their proximity to other people and things, Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) are uniquely suited to capture that information fast, alert users accordingly, and create historical data for analytics.
How Does RTLS Work?
ZeroKey’s RTLS, Smart Space, uses a combination of anchor and mobile nodes, as well as gateways to establish the 3D position of any given thing (tools, personnel, AGV’s, etc.) with a high degree of accuracy and precision. There are a number of different technologies on the market that can track location including Ultra-Wide Band, Bluetooth, and RFID. The key differentiator between our technology and the others on the market is the level of accuracy that we can achieve. Similar to how bats use ultrasonics to determine position with echolocation, ZeroKey uses ultrasonics combined with multi-lateration to position anything and everything with millimetre level accuracy.
Now, one might think “What’s the big deal? What difference does a few millimetres make?” The answer is that millimetre level precision and accuracy unlock an entirely new set of data to solve complex enterprise problems previously untouched by digital information. Tool position, production quality control, and anomaly detection are just a few examples of the problems that can only be solved with millimetre level accuracy.
The Customer is Always Right.
The pandemic has hit the industrial sector particularly hard. Many of our customers had to shut down for months. It was one of those customers that came to us and asked, “if we can use this technology to locate parts or people on an assembly line, could we also use it to capture contact tracing data and alert employees who were not maintaining physical distance?”
The simple answer was yes. With a quick retooling of our existing positioning technology, we developed a solution that alerts users when physical distance requirements are not being maintained AND collects encrypted contact tracing data to support a rapid and purposeful response in the event of a COVID-19 case.
Keep Your People Safe and your Business Running with Safe Space
Our Safe Space technology was created to help you return to a fully operational state while holding employee safety paramount. We take the guesswork out of staying safe by enforcing WHO-recommended physical distancing and providing the industry’s highest accuracy contact tracing.
The Safe Space wearable nodes enable precise device-to-device passive distance monitoring accurate down to the millimetre. When Safe Space devices become closer than a configurable minimum distance, such as 6ft or 2 metres, the devices alert the users through vibration, by flashing a warning light, and by sounding an audible alarm, at which point the interaction is captured by our system. In the event of a potential COVID-19 case, the encrypted interaction data gives companies a detailed view of impacted employees and areas, allowing for targeted contact tracing and area closures rather than full scale shutdowns.
The precision and accuracy achieved by Safe Space enables this process to happen rapidly and with surgical precision, allowing operations to return to full scale as quickly as possible. Managing potential outbreaks with Safe Space avoids major business disruptions without compromising safety.
Miles (or Millimetres) Above the Rest
Safe Space operates at a far superior accuracy of 1.5mm, over 10x more precise compared to other technologies. Not only that, but our distancing signal is also blocked by walls and dividers, which aligns with how employees would be considered safe to work side-by-side as long as they are separated by a barrier, something that RF-based technologies overlook. Both features lessen alarm fatigue, the key driver of employees disregarding alarms or abandoning efforts entirely.
The most notable features of Safe Space are its agility and ease of use. Deploying the nodes is as simple as providing them to employees. Since the distancing sensor can be worn as a wristband or clip-on badge, employees can simply “set it and forget it”. Safe Space is easily scalable from small to large deployments.
At the end of the day, we are all looking forward to returning to “normal” operations. With vaccines being rolled out around the world, there is hope that that day is not too far away. Nothing would make us happier than to see Safe Space become obsolete. We’ve even taken that into consideration when developing the solution. Safe Space nodes are flexible and can be easily redeployed as part of our broader indoor positioning system – Smart Space. Companies investing in a COVID-19 solution today can utilize the same hardware to continue their digital transformation journey using high accuracy positioning data to solve complex operational challenges.
Learn more about Safe Space and how you can deploy it in your business today.