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.