The UK has been particularly slow in recovering its productivity levels after the recession of 10 years ago. But why?
The UK has a reputation for being innovative, I have the fortune of working in a location where much of the early pioneering research into enzymes and their effect on the human body was carried out, and I walk past the plaque which commemorates the fact every day. So why would it be that our productivity is still below 2007 levels? Moreover, why are we in fact the worst performer in terms of productivity of all the G7 countries since the last recession!
The Work Foundation is a think tank that works in conjunction with the University of Lancaster to influence public policy making and organisational practices in the UK through research and intellectual thinking. In 2017, the Work Foundation was commissioned by Cisco to conduct a study aiming to get to the bottom of why the UK has performed so poorly post-2007, and we here at TourTraxUK found the results so fascinating that we have chosen to produce a synopsis of their findings here on our blog. Interspersed with some of own thoughts of course!
The study was based on interviews conducted with 1,500 employee’s at large companies across the UK, plus business leaders, academics and public-sector executives. Some of the results are very surprising (and frankly quite worrying), and many do not shed the UK’s working practices in the greatest of light. Here are some of the most concerning findings…
But surely, whatever anybody may think about tomorrow’s technology (I refer here to things like artificial intelligence, augmented reality and genetic modification which still do require a huge amount of debate), the benefits of cloud technologies and remote working are proven and without doubt?
Only yesterday I was discussing our next creative campaign via a crystal-clear IP-based voice connection with an important stake-holder in Canada. We shared our screens to review the campaign. A campaign that is being produced by somebody in Puerto Rico, with copy and creative input from us here in the UK. The collaborative tools that we use enable us all to make comments, to be alerted if required to make input, and if necessary, we could all be in a virtual “room” to brainstorm ideas even though we are all sitting in different corners of the globe. Just as an addendum to that, I have logged in this morning to be greeted with the latest swathe of updates based on all of our input yesterday that were made last night whilst I was either spending time with my young family, or asleep.
So why oh why oh why would anybody feel the need to RESTRICT flexible working in ANY job role?
This is an extremely important point in my opinion and I have a couple of theories on this (based on talking to mates down the pub of course!) which relate to the way that I think technology is currently perceived by the general population in the UK...
Although the report does not stray into such subjective opinion, what it does do is list reasons as to why some technology projects fail and what we need to do to avoid them failing in the future. They talk about poor business planning, lack of innovation, out-dated infrastructure, and our low uptake of flexible working practices. The first point is obvious (fail to plan, plan to fail) and the subject of infrastructure is no surprise and indeed of constant annoyance to us all in the UK, especially when we hear that South Koreans have been watching streaming video on underground trains for about 15 years. The policy of austerity might be partly responsible, but that’s for another day!
What I want to know is WHY we have failed to innovate, and WHY our uptake of flexible working practices is so low. What I suspect, as I have already suggested, is that many decision makers are now sceptical of, and therefore not “buying into” technology, even in the workplace. If I am right, the UK really needs to get over it, and quickly. If we don’t, China, Russia and India will continue to blaze a trail ahead of us.
If this is what is holding us back, then again, I refer to the report. It talks of “intrapreneurship”, meaning that young innovators must be allowed to take ownership of implementing technology so that the productivity benefits can be reaped for all. They must be allowed to make mistakes. Because they will probably be younger and less “experienced” than the rest, but they will also be better and more at home with technology and gadgets because they grew up with them.
And we should probably ALL bear in mind the following recommendations that were also made in the report...
In the Spring of 2018, TourTraxUK will be running an event in central London offering insight and real-life examples of how technology delivers competitive advantage to hospitality businesses. Reflecting TourTrax’s own commitment to making manual processes electronic, we have invited 2 of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs to talk to TourTraxUK subscribers about the way they have used technology to disrupt and innovate. They will also expand upon how and where they have applied these technologies to benefit the hospitality sector.
At the heart of the TourTraxUK proposition lies our commitment to making any manual or paper-based process electronic. Whether you are familiar with our technology as something that makes monitoring your staff easier, speeds up the process of sending and managing tasks and activities, or just proves that people are in a certain place at a certain time, the reality is that the number of ways and scenarios that our technology can be applied is virtually endless.
Because of the flexibility that cloud-based hosting and the Microsoft SQL Azure programming platform gives us at the back-end, along with the uniqueness of RFID and the processing power of smartphones at the coal-face, we can produce a completely bespoke solution enabling virtually any paper-based or manual process to be automated most environments. For example, our solutions have been used to enable exactly the correct amount of organic waste to be dropped at recycling points across the UK, with the full visibility (through API integration) of the environment agency. More simply, we have also been asked to implement a tracking solution allowing parcels to be tracked from one University building in South-East London to another, making sure that all packages are delivered on-time and in one piece.
At our event in the Spring of 2018, in addition to meeting senior TourTrax management in person, you will be able to meet 2 of the UK’s youngest and most exciting entrepreneurs in London’s Aldgate, E1.
Jamie Bolding started Jungle Creations in July 2014 and 3 years later, at the grand old age of 26, he now owns some of the most viewed and shared social media channels on the planet. With in excess of 47 million followers at his disposal, rivalling the likes of Walt Disney and Warner Bros, Jamie will be able to give you unparalleled insights into how compelling content can be generated at little or no cost that can be used to engage a global, but highly targeted audience around the world.
Carl Churchill started NetPay in October 2012, having started and sold his own internet services business before the age of 25. Carl then decided to apply the same principles of technology and innovation to the payments sector, and five years on, 30% of ALL businesses in the UK applying to use merchant services for the first time, or switching from one to another, are being processed by NetPay. Carl will be imparting the benefits of his experience around enabling hoteliers and restaurateurs to take more up-front payments and bookings in advance of any services being delivered.
The Digital Age is here. It affects everything that we do, and is constantly adapting the way that people behave and interact. Love it or hate it, it’s happening all around us, and has been doing so since the 70’s, so it’s here to stay.
It seems to me that the challenge with technology is to work with it, use it and embrace it. Whilst understanding that it can and should be put to good, positive use. Possibly the most common perception of technology is that it makes everything “faster”, and therefore “worse”, because it’s a means of enabling very fast mechanical processing which makes people “redundant” and “useless”. But when used well, technology is in fact about enabling us to make better-informed decisions, implement them more quickly, and make sure that everyone that needs to know what is going on is informed promptly and without fuss. Freeing human beings up to do the things that we do well.
Food is a great example. If we thought of applying technology to food preparation and service from a “traditional” or technophobic stance, we may argue that all that it will achieve is to make sure that we are carted in and out of eateries on a conveyor belt, serving pre-packed food that was cooked and flown in from wherever it is cheapest to produce, in whatever box that is easiest to discard. But based on a recent survey of 823 caterers aged between 19 and 65+, technology is perceived as a way of achieving much more than that.
What was cited by this straw pole of expert caterers, over 50% of whom by the way cited that they are positive about the year ahead (the survey was carried out earlier in 2017), is that people want bespoke menus, cooked and served in a variety of ways that is specifically for them. So, no buffets or barbecues please! This food of choice needs to be created using ethically sourced, local produce that is not going to clog our arteries. And caterers see technology as the way of being able to define exactly what people want, and deliver it in the way and at the time that they want.
As for learning about new product and service offerings, not surprisingly 14% of caterers suggested that social media was the most beneficial route to their customers for them. In comparison, only 1% had bothered to use more traditional forms of advertising such as magazines, newspapers and other print media. Only 2 weeks ago, an innovative social media channel has just started up a food delivery service in East London based on exactly these principles, using Facebook as the medium to take and receive orders.
So, caterers appreciate that technology can be used to deliver locally sourced, healthy produce cooked exactly as the customer wants? Well that can’t be a bad thing can it…
We at TourTraxUK feel exactly the same. Used properly, we know that technology will only benefit human beings and the businesses that they operate. Certainly, the technology in our solutions will anyway. It’s a way of benefiting the environment by reducing the use of paper and energy, of keeping people informed of vital decisions and activities, of making sure that they are safe, and that customer needs and safety is always at the forefront of the minds of staff.
So that human beings can focus on the things that human beings do best.
At TourTraxUK we refer to it as Dynamic and Static activity…
One of the main advantages of using technology to monitor health & safety or compliance checks, is the way it can be set to alert Responsible Persons when things do not happen with user-defined regularity and at certain times.
But due to the nature of compliance checks, especially those that are associated with security, it may be especially important that those checks are not carried at regular, specific times. For example, if large amounts of cash or any other valuable property or asset is being protected, if it is observed that security checks are done at the same time every day or week, it could make the property or asset concerned even more vulnerable.
The common perception of technology is that it is very rigid in terms of how rules can be set up to make sure that things happen “regularly”. Things like server backups, virus sweeps, or other maintenance checks are typically carried out at the same time every few days or weeks. Because in that context, it is appropriate.
But in the context of this blog the most important thing is what the definition of “regular” actually is, because it needs to mean different things for different tasks.
As we have mentioned before in our blogs, TourTraxUK uses RFID tags in conjunction with the in-built functionality of NFC on smartphones, to enable us to be a hell of a lot smarter about how we enable you to plan and monitor activity. In this context, RFID and NFC allows us to be way more flexible in the way that we define the term “regular”. One day, you may need to be a total control-freak micro-manager, and on another, the coolest most laid-back boss in the business! But the point is that this will need to change every day, dependent on the nature of the tasks in hand.
If micro-management is needed, then TourTraxUK can be set up so that a set of checkpoints must be checked in a particular order in a five-minute window, every day, for example. This we would refer to as a Static Patrol.
But if a more “laissez-faire” approach is required, you could tell our system that a certain checkpoint needs to be swiped a certain number of times within a much more extended period. This could be set at days, weeks, months or even years. It could also just as easily be set to require that a set of checkpoints need to be visited with the same (ir)regularity. This we would refer to as a Dynamic Patrol.
In terms of monitoring and reporting, TourTraxUK also allows reports to be sent to key decision makers to view the progress of this on-going activity. So, if you have a set of checkpoints that need to be visited 1,000 times within a 6-month period, it is really easy for you to know if you have enough resources to actually do it. Meaning that you won’t have to employ extra staff to make 750 visits in a month to complete your compliance target!
For more information on how TourTraxUK will enable you to manage your compliance and security tasks with the utmost flexibility, call Richard Dickety on 01634 757 088 or on 07779 563 678
Remote Workers and Network Coverage. How Much Should Signal Strength Impact Your Decision to Use a Smartphone or Tablet Based Field Management Solution?
Not at all if you use RFID tags…
It’s another of those things that we hear quite regularly… “oh we don’t want to use anything that relies on a mobile phone signal, because the coverage around here is so poor”.
If you live in the centre of London or any other major city that has an abundance of 4G and Wi-Fi coverage, you may have thought that such arguments had been consigned to history. But the reality is still that in the UK, when you get to the extremities of our small island, signal strength can still be debilitatingly poor.
But this is one of the many reasons that our own developers have worked so tirelessly to overcome what is a significant hurdle to provide what we feel to be one of the best solutions around for ensuring that stuff gets done when it needs to get done, and that people are kept safe in the process.
Obviously, we are way beyond relying on “live” internet connections to monitor remote workers. Doing that would never offer the kind of reliability that a remote worker would need. The invention of the app was the real breakthrough moment here in that it meant that a huge amount of “stuff” can be managed by the phone and their ever-faster and more efficient processors and storage. Simply because the app already knows what needs to be done processing-wise and can store a lot of relevant information to help it to do it. Without the need to rely on an internet connection to gain access to a powerful server somewhere.
In other words, much of the processing just gets done on the phone itself, and no signal or connectivity is required at all to do that.
But what about for time or location specific tasks? What if your remote worker is out of signal at the time you want them to do something, or in a location where coverage is simply out of the question?
Well that’s when you just have to be a bit smart….
If all you need is for your field-staff to be able to call up one of your library of forms at a random point, all we do is make sure that they are synchronised to your fleet of mobile phones at regular intervals. Enabling them to call one up whenever they need, signal or no signal. You have a lot of forms? You should be able to store thousands of forms on a single device, no problem. You can with ours, anyway.
As far as time-specific activity is concerned, if you know in advance when an activity needs to get done, then it is very easy just to send a schedule of activity to the phone at a time when you know that it has coverage. Like when its owner is at home asleep, for example. We enable a user defined setting to automatically send jobs and schedules down to remote workers well before they venture out into the back of beyond.
Carrying out asset specific tasks that require pre-defined or stored information? This is where RFID really comes into its own. By assigning a form to a job or asset before the field worker has left to do the job, all the asset and job-specific information can be transferred to the phone whilst in coverage. The worker arrives at the job, has no coverage, and swipes the asset. At which point the form “appears” with all the site and asset specific information pre-filled. How? Well the pre-populated form had been on the phone since the job was downloaded five hours previously, but is only presented to the field worker once the tag is swiped. With or without signal.
And what about proving attendance, activity and presence in remote locations with no signal, GPS coverage or even the possibility of mobile mast triangulation? Again, we rely on RFID technology. By placing tags at specific locations on a site, when the tags are swiped, the unique identity of the tag can be stored (tens of thousands of swipes can be stored without causing even the most basic of smartphones a problem) along with the time it was swiped and who by. At such a time as the phone re-enters coverage, all of the swipe activity is communicated to the remote server.
Giving you your bullet-proof audit trail of compliance activity, wherever you, your sites or your field-workers may be.
For more information about how TourTraxUK can help you to keep workers busy and safe even in the remotest of environments, get in touch with Richard Dickety on 01634 757 088 or 07779 563678.
Push-to-Talk, 2 Way Radios (“Walkie-talkies”) and the Rise of IP Based Telephony. Is It Time for You to Consider IP Communication for your Mobile Workforce?
2-way radios have been around for many years. They allow 2 people to communicate quickly and clearly over a distance with great reliability. Invaluable when the pressure is on.
Although the rise of mobile telephony has presented a bit of a challenge to 2-way radios, GSM networks have traditionally rather let themselves down in environments where reliability is crucial, simply by being extremely, well, unreliable. Also, the running cost of mobiles is significant, and when you add in the fact that employees are always likely to be tempted to use them for nefarious purposes, the good old fashioned “walkie-talkie” makes huge sense for voice communication in industries like hospitality and security.
For those who may not be aware, 2-way radios are still commonly used in industries where being able to talk to someone NOW may be of life or death importance. This is basically because the technology “just works”. You push a button, and get a crystal clear, instant connection to the required person at the other end. When was the last time you could say that about your £800 smartphone? A 2-way radio channel will also NOT be shut down in the event of a terrorist attack or national disaster. We rest our case.
But the mobile device, especially the smartphone, suddenly presents a new challenge to traditional 2-way radio technology from a slightly unexpected angle. Forget GSM, and think IP telephony.
The idea of using a mobile phone to make an IP call, specifically designed to make and receive calls using the traditional GSM network, in many ways just seems a bit odd. But smartphones have suddenly become pretty good at switching between voice and data networks to make voice calls. BT Mobile in the UK has been doing it for a few years now, and with the genuinely improved coverage of 4g, HSDPA and 3g in the UK, achieving the networks’ long over-promised 99% coverage is now much closer to reality. When you add in Wi-Fi coverage, and the fact that a smartphone can switch between Wi-Fi and GSM networks without a hitch to continue an IP call, suddenly you are challenging the reliability of a 2-way radio to make and receive voice communications. The relatively short distances covered by traditional 2-way radio also has the potential to become an international call when you use IP.
The other traditional benefits of 2-way radios are also maintained. Secure, reliable, instant communication is offered via a smartphone’s PTT (push-to-talk) button, and the cost is low, because you are ideally using your own corporate Wi-Fi network or a data bundle. Way cheaper than traditional mobile voice bundles.
The cost-benefits are further enhanced when you consider that many security and hospitality businesses will already be using smartphones as part of a remote worker management solution. This will be a crucial everyday part of their business that they will be using in addition to 2-way radios. Well, suddenly 2 cumbersome devices become one. All that is required is some additional software or an app and a smartphone with a PTT button, but most enterprise level (especially rugged) smartphones will have that anyway.
Then you can add in all the additional benefits of VOIP calling and messaging. Such as voice messaging (including voice-to-text), on and offline availability alerts, queued messaging, accountability (of course everything is logged and recorded in a management suite) and the ability to generate open and closed work-groups for team communication. Think WhatsApp here, but a solution that is 100% designed to support a business rather than our teenage off-spring.
Concerned about security? Remind yourself of the story recently where WhatsApp got beaten up simply because the UK intelligence agencies were struggling to infiltrate the encrypted communications of terrorist cells who were using WhatsApp to message each other prior to the recent London terrorist attacks. So yes, your business communications will be 100% secure.
Interested in using 2-way PTT over IP in your business? Talk to us about how you can keep your existing estate of traditional 2-way radios, by using them to work in conjunction with any newly implemented IP-based PTT solution.
Call TourTraxUK and ask for Richard Dickety on 07779 563 678 or call the office on 01634 757 088 if you have questions or need any impartial advice.
HOTELS & HOSPITALITY: Using Technology to Make Your Customer Service Experience Pro-Active, Not Reactive
We hear it all the time. “I trust my staff”.
The sentiment is totally admirable. If you are really in the very fortunate position of being able to say with 100% certainty that you CAN trust every one of your staff to give the kind of attentive service that they would give to their own infant children… then you are doing something very, very right.
But let’s get real. Hospitality is competitive, and margins are tight. The pressure that hoteliers feel to maintain high standards, whilst keeping staff costs low… is extreme. This means that many of your staff are likely to be lowly paid, maybe even minimum wage. Almost certainly overworked. Meaning that their motivation to treat your customers like their own, may not always be what you would want it to be.
The number of customer “touch-points” in terms of their overall experience of your brand is huge. Every time that a customer interacts with you and your staff, be it in a physical or virtual sense, it offers the opportunity to build an amazingly positive perception of you, your brand, and the experience that you provide to all of your customers. Errrm… or not.
When you have residents, who are potentially residing with you for days or even weeks, the opportunity for the sum of all these experiences to be negative, rather than positive, is sizeable. You have a restaurant where despite the best efforts of the chef, a front-of-house person may serve wine in a glass that is smudged. Your maintenance guy may have forgotten to fix the air-con unit in the honeymoon suite, for a couple who want everything to be “just perfect”. Your receptionist may just be having an off-day, which is why she forgot to give that all important message to the extremely busy sales executive from New York. You know, the one who flew in jet-lagged this morning and needed that life-or-death phone message an hour ago, NOT 10 minutes ago.
Technology can be a help AND a hindrance here. On the down-side, it is now so easy for a customer, independent reviewer or regulator to communicate negative experiences to a wide audience quickly and easily. Especially in the UK, where let’s face it, we’re so much more likely to talk about a negative experience than a bad one. And we also have a seemingly innate desire to paste it all over the internet.
But technology can also be used to turn your organisation into one which reduces the likelihood of this ever happening, by preventing problems before they occur. It can be used to keep every piece of equipment working, 24/7. It can make sure that all thoroughfares are clear, every day of the year, even at 3am. But most importantly, it can help your staff not to be over-reliant on their tired, stressed-out brains to remember every task that they need to achieve in a day. Sometimes, a smile or a voucher is simply not enough to turn a bad experience into a positive one, especially if the issue could have been easily prevented. This is of course doubly so if the issue has impacted on someone’s health or safety.
The point with technology is that it enables you and your key management staff to be pro-active about customer service rather than reactive. It means that a heating unit will be turned on 30 minutes before a customer takes occupancy of a room when it is -5 outside, rather than finding out that it does not work 5 minutes after they arrive.
In terms of health and safety, it means that you will know that a fire exit is blocked before the vulnerable night hours when your guests are asleep. Rather than having to produce paper-log books that show that the exit was checked 2 days previously, when dealing with an investigation that has proven that it was blocked resulting in death or injury on the day that disaster struck.
For more information about how we can turn you into a pro-active rather than reactive business, call Richard Dickety on 01634 757 088 or 07779 563 678.
Combining, NFC, RFID & Cloud Technologies in Service Delivery: The Benefits for FM and Service Management
To follow on from our blog of last week about proving attendance, it struck us the extent to which this is only a small part of the overall benefit that combining these technologies offer, in the context of managing people and remote workforces.
As explained in that blog, the power of RFID really lies in the uniqueness of any one tag. Swiping a unique tag with an NFC enabled smartphone means that software companies can make it quick and easy for users to associate “stuff” and “things” with that tag.
By “stuff” we are just talking about activities, instructions, times and so on and so-forth that can then also be associated with “things”, both of which may for whatever reason be important to a company. Because of the nature of the technologies, the stuff and things that are important can be defined quickly and simply by a user of a software system, especially if it has been well-designed with a clean and simple user interface. Being cloud-based means that this can be done anytime and anywhere.
To clarify exactly what we mean here, it is probably best at this point to describe the things we are talking about, and the stuff that can be associated with them, in terms of real-world examples which might actually mean something!
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of the technology, is enabling an RFID tag to be assigned to physical pieces of equipment or assets. This could be something as vague as “the corridor on the second floor” (a “checkpoint”) to something as specific as an air-conditioning unit, a fire-exit or a hotel room.
The uniqueness of the tag combined with the ability to fix it in a specific location mounted either on or very near to the place or asset, means that it is very easy to prove that someone has visited it at a specific time. See our previous blog for more detail on this.
But more than that, the uniqueness of the tag then allows us to send user defined instructions or forms to the phone when the tag relating to an asset is swiped. We can also make these instructions or form completely specific to the asset, using information that we already know about it and is stored on our secure cloud servers.
This offers huge flexibility around planned maintenance or regular scheduled activities. For example, you could store information in your software platform so that you know when an air-conditioning unit is due a service. Either a job can be sent to a qualified person at the right time, or equally when the asset is swiped by a competent person, then a maintenance form can be sent down to the phone, or tablet.
In terms of more basic service delivery, we could remind staff that rooms in a hotel must have their mini-bars refilled every time that a tag placed in the room is swiped, or indeed that the air-conditioning or heating should be switched on, prior to a guest or service user taking occupancy of the room. The system can then be alerted when the room becomes available.
Associating RFID tags with whole buildings, offers great scope in terms of managing time-sheets or rostering people onto sites. The idea is that an RFID tag is swiped in order to register someone’s arrival at or departure from a site. This is quite different from a checkpoint.
The benefit of this is firstly that we can prove exactly what time someone has arrived at and left a site, which means that timesheets can be produced automatically and associated with sites, people and jobs, enabling payroll to be automated.
Secondly, when the allocation of people who have certain skill-sets or qualifications on sites is important, it is then straightforward to enforce that a specific person (who is unqualified, or may even have been banned for another reason) cannot “clock-in” to a particular site.
Assigning RFID tags to a planned series of activities means we can enforce that these activities should happen at specific times or with a certain frequency within a date range. For example, a system could ensure that a range of checkpoints must be swiped at certain times and in a certain order. If this does not happen, alerts can be sent either to the phone user (to inform them that they are doing something wrong and what they should in fact be doing) or a manager or administrator of the system can be informed that something has not happened or potentially even worse, that an end-user has suddenly become inactive.
This is invaluable for people who have a responsibility for the security of a site, people or a business, as it enables them to define exactly when patrols are done and in what order, and are instantly alerted if this does not happen. But it of course has many other applications, like enforcing regular health & safety or maintenance checks.
An RFID tag could also be assigned to a person, for log-in purposes. This would require an end-user to swipe a tag to log-in to a mobile device, for example.
This would only be appropriate when it is merely required to prove that “someone” has logged in to the phone, and their identity is not especially important. For example, if we need to know that someone from a certain organisation has logged-in and is carrying out activities.
Where identity is important, it is very easy to incorporate biometric technology or usernames and passwords into user identification for the purposes of logging in on a smartphone or tablet.
Hopefully this goes some way towards persuading you that your next choice of fieldworker management system needs to incorporate RFID and NFC. Alongside better known technologies (in this context) like GPS location and cloud hosting, it will underpin the lightweight, flexible and intelligent systems of tomorrow.
In the UK, please contact Richard Dickety on 07779 563 678 or 01634 757 088 for further information.
One of the essential premises of any proof of attendance system that uses RFID and NFC technology is that it proves that known people have visited certain locations at particular times, and carried out pre-defined tasks. The aim of this article is to explain this in layman’s terms, also why I am confident that it pretty much does exactly that. And more.
The first bit is simple. As NFC technology only has a range of about 5cm, and a phone has a unique identifier in the form of an industry standard IMEI number, it is pretty easy to prove that an NFC enabled smartphone (meaning it can read RFID tags) has been to a location where an RFID tag is fixed or mounted.
OK, so I know that my NFC reading mobile device has been close to an RFID tag. So what? Well, it is also relatively straightforward to develop an app that requires a user to be logged in using a unique ID and password. So, if we use said app to read the RFID tag while logged in as a particular person, then we now know that said person has been a maximum of 5cm away from the tag. And with the addition of a few other fairly simple pieces of functionality to the app, we also know exactly what time that person was there.
Just to expand on the last point a little, sometimes we get asked if it wouldn’t be pretty simple for a smart person to adjust the time on a phone thereby making it appear that a tag had been swiped at a different time to what it was in reality. Well in fact no, because as long as you ensure that the activity is ultimately recorded by sending information to a secure remote server, which cannot be tampered with and is constantly synchronising with the atomic clock, it is very easy to know that the phone is either lying, or has been tampered with to make it appear like it is. Adjustments can then AUTOMATICALLY be made, server side, to the activity log. Trust me, we are smart on this one, and there is no way around it!
Alright, so now we know that a particular phone with an identifiable person has been in close proximity to an RFID tag at a certain time… what about the tag itself? How do I KNOW that it is unique, and hasn’t just been cloned so that somebody who is purporting to be doing our firewalks isn’t in fact swiping cloned tags in their front room? Well this is where some further explanation is required relating to the nature of RFID tags and why they are especially appropriate for this kind of solution. Firstly, there are 4 memory banks contained within a (UHF Gen 2) RFID tag memory bank. Each bank is labelled with a number that is assigned by EPCglobal®. In case you are interested, EPC global, is a GS1 initiative to innovate and develop industry-driven standards for the Electronic Product Code™ (EPC) to support the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). A kind of self-appointed regulator, if you like. The memory bank that we at TourTraxUK read to prove attendance is the TID memory. The TID is commonly known as the “Tag Identifier” and is typically 32-80 bits in length, and contains the chipsets type and manufacturer. It is alphanumeric and is almost certainly unique to any RFID tag. The TID number is read only and cannot be rewritten.
We believe that any proof of attendance solution should not be writing information to tags, because this would mean that potentially secure, sensitive information could be stored in an environment that is NOT secure and could be copied or replicated. By this I mean the tag itself. All we do is read the TID of the tag, send it to our servers, and at that point we know that a person has visited the tag and at what time. Giving us our bullet-proof activity log. We may also send instructions down to the phone that things need to be done (checks need to be carried out in that location, or maybe a form needs to be completed), based on functionality that is associated with the TID of the tag. But just to be clear, all of this is done at the server level and no information is stored on the tag itself. The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that I said previously that the TID of any RFID tag is almost certainly unique. In fact, it is up to the manufacturer of the tag to generate the TID and therefore there is the remotest possibility that two different manufacturers COULD generate a TID that is the same. But bearing in mind that TID’s are typically 32-80 bits in length and alpha-numeric, this is mathematically bordering on impossible. It’s a bit like that old story that if you tied a monkey to a typewriter and gave it enough paper, eventually it will type a Shakespeare play. Assuming it is immortal, and never inclined to give up, of course. But we are pretty confident that if it came to a court of law, where proving attendance and compliance activity would need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, RFID technology used correctly in conjunction with NFC PROVES attendance and activity. Combine it with GPS locating, then there is no reasonable doubt.
What is without doubt however, is that it proves it a lot more than writing it down in a log- book. I would also like to point out that it is also completely fire and water resistant!
For more information about how we can help you to prove your compliance activity, mitigate your risk and save you money on insurance premiums… please contact Richard Dickety on 07779 563 678 or 01634 757 088.
According to the UK Home Office, there were 596 fires in hotels or guest houses between April 2015 and March 2016 in England alone. Fortunately, this resulted in only one fatality but there were still 47 casualties requiring hospital treatment as a direct result of these incidents.
These numbers sound small but imagine if this happened in the hotel where you are the FSO nominated Responsible Person. The resulting investigations will involve a great deal more than having to answer a few awkward questions, as evidence will be required to prove that you carry out your compliance checks on a regular basis. By this, we mean that you will need to be able to show that…
But if the worst has happened, we must assume firstly that something has gone wrong (either in terms of process or equipment), also that much of the compliance documentation that you were in the habit of keeping so diligently may have been destroyed in its entirety. Your insurance will cover the cost of the physical damage all being well, but what about any third-party litigation claims or prosecutions that you may have to endure?
TourTrax provides a solution to ensure that all of the above checks are recorded and backed up automatically. All you need to do is instruct your competent persons to touch a basic Android smartphone to strategically placed RFID tags, on a regular basis. Information is then sent to a Microsoft Azure secure remote server, which is fully mirrored and backed-up. You can access this information daily if you like, just for peace of mind. But then if your worst nightmare becomes a reality? Well it just might keep you out of jail.
We can also set the system to alert you when ANY of the above activities have not happened as regularly, or at the times that you have specified that they should.
All this will cost you little more than the savings we will make using our specialist brokers and underwriters to lower your annual insurance premiums. So, ask yourself… why on earth wouldn’t you?
For more information or a demo call Richard Dickety on 01634 757 088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.