By Tara Gibson - February 25, 2020
Workplace safety is at the forefront of employers’ minds, especially with an uptick of violent incidents reported in the media across the United States. Whether an active assailant incident or cyberattack, safety and security threats can shake a business and impact how it runs and devastate the employees who work there. Technology is advancing at an increasingly fast rate and companies are taking advantage of this new tech to improve both workplace operations and safety.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article author Catherine Stupp delves into workplace technology and how plastic ID cards may not be around forever. This is especially true with the new high-tech biometric systems, microchip implants, gait recognition, and other technologies that have been created to improve security, generate health data, and monitor workers and employees.
Some employers have started using facial recognition such as face and iris scans, which are much more difficult to spook than a standard plastic ID card, according to WSJ. These cameras scan the faces and eyes of employees as they enter the office and can also be configured to tag an individuals face to block re-entrance for contracted workers or somebody who has left the company for example. Shaun Moore, chief executive of Trueface, a facial-recognition provider, explains that this technology is increasingly popular within companies with large workforces and in construction firms who are regularly sending new workers to building sites and need to track who is where.
Another developing technology is being referred to as gait recognition. By using cameras this technology can recognize and identify people based on their body shape and the way they move. Vir Phoha, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Syracuse University says, “In places with especially tight security, such as workplaces that handle hazardous materials or heavy machinery, several different ID technologies could be linked to repeatedly identify workers as they move around.” This means that video cameras could recognize a workers face as they enter the building, and then analyze the way they walk as well as the employees typing style to positively verify whether it is the same person.
Early adopters are now offering employees the option to insert microchips in their hands to open doors, log into computers, reserve conference rooms, and even pay for vending machine snacks, according to WSJ. These microchips are the size of a grain of rice and are implanted under the skin between the thumb and forefinger where they cannot be felt. After they’re implanted employees can scan their hands over chip readers to gain access to the office. Jowan Österlund, chief executive of Biohax International, a Swedish maker of implantable ID chips explains that this technology cannot be lost, stolen, or copied. He also says that eventually he’d like to develop the microchips so that they can track wearer’s health data. Those who have a microchip can share details such as their pulse or stress levels with employers which can help them determine whether the office environment is healthy, or if there has to be changes made.
These technologies may seem radical and exciting now, but in the future we may see them implemented in many businesses and companies across the world. Not only can they generate personalized health and productivity data, but they also play a large role in making workplaces more secure and easier to navigate.
Gait recognition, for example, could reveal important information on how an employee is feeling and their well-being over time. Workplace violence often begins with small incidents of negative remarks and then may escalate to physical violence. There are telling warning signs such as changes in their behavioral patterns as well as crying, sulking, or temper tantrums, excessive absenteeism or lateness, and pushing the limits of acceptable conduct or disregarding the health and safety of others according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Gait recognition could pick up on these behavioral changes and alert managers before an employee becomes violent in the workplace.
Facial and iris recognition could also be extremely important in workplace security when it comes to intruders or angry past employees. As mentioned above, after somebody has left the company, or was fired, the software can tag specific faces and block them access back into the office or place of work.
Businesses are also turning to mobile panic button technology to improve workplace safety, as an easy to use app can simultaneously alert employees, 9-1-1, and first responders in the event of an emergency. Whether it be a workplace violence incident, intruder, or medical emergency, users can quickly get critical information to first responders and essentially speed up emergency response times.
Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12, State & Local, Higher Ed, Corporate, and Healthcare, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!
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