Protect people and data!
What we mean with real-time workforce safety is that industries digitalize and automate the safety work in their plants. By adding real-time positioning of the workforce, you get a virtual guardian angel sitting on the shoulder of each employee that can be the difference between life and death in a catastrophic situation.
Safety vs. Privacy
But a person is not fully protected unless the person’s personal data is also protected. Protection of personal data need some proactive measures. Early in the application design it is essential to incorporate a privacy strategy defining how privacy are to be incorporated in your application. We have found that a good guiding star that make sense to read before running the first sprint in the application development is the set of foundational principles of Privacy by Design (see Wikipedia) by Dr. Ann Cavoukian.
The Privacy by Design principles provide a set of proactive measures to avoid invasive events before they happen. Let’s reflect over them a bit!
For us, privacy as the default setting means that the view used in daily operation should not reveal the true identity of any worker tracked by the system. We ensure that privacy is embedded into the design by having functionality to hide correlation between the tag the workers carry, and their identity. Only when disaster strikes, and it becomes important to understand who is in danger and who is safe, the system must allow safety managers and rescue personnel to unlock the system. To prevent malicious use the log-in functionality, you need to gather data on when the system is unlocked, register why it is unlocked and who has unlocked it.
End-to-end security is also important for ensuring privacy. A good security design reduces the risk of e.g. eavesdropping of the location data captured by the system. End-to-end security needs are little different depending on the deployment model used. Here we look at a range of different solutions that help us secure the solution in deployments, ranging from on premises deployments hidden in a private network to cloud deployments where the data travel across the open internet.
A perhaps very specific item for system using active positioning technologies is an advice to not use unnecessarily high precision positioning techniques for the use cases the customer want to support. Wifi-positioning and RFID are an often-used technique in the systems we deliver. With reasonable dense wifi-deployment over large industrial sites, the wifi-accuracy is in the range of several 10’s of meters. A sufficiently good precision to understand if a person is in a specific building/area that need evacuation in a hazardous situation.
For more advanced use cases like setting up geofences and warning people for moving objects (like a moving forklifts) or stationary hazardous machines and equipment, more accurate positioning methods giving <1 meter precision are however required. Here we advise the customers to be transparent in informing the workforce on where these systems are deployed and why. These types of technologies are seldom covering a complete site, so the higher positioning accuracy is typically only applicable for a limited and more hazardous areas of the site.
Lastly on visibility and keeping privacy user centric; if the workforce accepts some level of sharing of position data, why not discuss the benefits with full transparency and opening up the functionality to the workforce (e.g. to their handheld devices) so that they can use it to find e.g. each other or any equipment that is tagged? Making your safety system to a “search engine” for your site! By this your workforce may see the positioning capabilities of your new system as an opportunity improving their daily work!
For more information, please contact:
Per Synnergren – Mobilaris Industrial Solutions