Software AG has launched a Smart Social Distancing solution to help companies ensure their employees return safely to work. Organisations can use the solution to help employees keep to the recommended safe distance, record incidents where that distance is breached. The platform provides an auditable proof of compliance if required by the authorities.
The solution uses smart badges to alert the wearer if they approach the limit of safe social distancing. The first intention is to change behaviour. If those employees spend more than 15 seconds inside of that virtual boundary, then an ‘incident’ is recorded. All wearers are anonymised, the solution registers proximity but not location. Only authorised personnel have access to the data – this makes the solution compliant with GDPR and other worker privacy regulations.
A challenging environment for business
Bernd Gross, CTO at Software AG commented, “We are faced with a very difficult situation: we must protect our employees. But we also need to get businesses and the economy back up and running. How do we do one without compromising the other?“.
Gross added, “Over 40% of the workforce will work in controlled spaces, in close proximity to others and without mandatory personal protective equipment. We can help protect those people. We’ve combined our experience in the Industrial Internet of Things with the industry knowledge of our partners to help organisations implement these safeguards quickly.”
Companies opting to use the Smart Social Distancing solution can be up and running in just a couple of days. Beta tests have taken place in food production facilities and process manufacturing plants. Early tests have shown that instances of breaches declined by more than 50% within the first week.
Trials in Germany
The Göbecke bakery in Germany is one of the first companies to trial the solution. Owner Christine Göbecke said, “Just like so many businesses, the current situation is tough for us and holds many challenges. But thanks to the Smart Social Distancing solution, the safety of our workers is guaranteed. We can focus on getting to a point of normality in our production.”
The badges interact with beacons placed at cluster points throughout the workplace. The data is processed through Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform. The solution helps employees protect themselves; health and safety teams to trace contact with any employee showing symptoms. Employers fulfil their duty of care and show the compliance that allows the business to remain operational.
Software AG will initially work with partners including Tech Mahindra and Dell Technologies to bring this product to customers. The product will be available to all customers around the world and across many industries. Tech Mahindra combines expertise in technology with specific expertise in industries including telco and manufacturing. Dell Technologies, with its dedicated Design Solutions portfolio (formerly OEM), helps organisations build digital solutions. This is achieved through the industry’s broadest and innovative technology and services portfolio, transforming how they work, live and play. Dell Technologies will initially bring this solution to customers in Germany before further expansion.
Enterprise Times: What this means for business
Recent research from e-days found that many in the UK do not want to return to their place of work. The company surveyed only 100 people to find out whether they wanted to return to the workplace. Sixty percent of respondents are reluctant or unsure about returning to the office. Employees need the confidence to safely return to the work environment. Employers are legally responsible for their safekeeping. Many business, irrespective of size or sector are facing similar challenges.
There is a dilemma – employees want to return to work, but they also want to remain safe. The development of Software AG’s solution sounds like the perfect tool to ensure smart social distancing in the workplace. The solution is being piloted by food production facilities across Europe. However, the assumption is that the platform could be adopted in most work environments. Any application that makes the workplace safer in the current environment must be welcomed.