In this series, we will dispel the myths about labor data collection including wearable technology for worksites.
The Rise of Wearable Technology and Tracking Devices
The opportunities for devices to track human behavior have exploded. Devices with some form of tracking functionality have flooded a variety of markets. They’re in our cars, on our wrists, embedded in our phones, powering our medical devices—the list goes on. These devices track not only physical location but also biometric data. While some consumers raise questions about data privacy and security, usage numbers continue to rise. In 2014, 28.8M wearables were shipped worldwide. So far in 2022, that number has reached 533.6M, a 20% year-over-year increase from 2021.
Tracking devices are slowly making their way onto construction and industrial worksites in the form of safety wearables and video monitoring devices. There’s a lot of value in tracking movement and behavior. Ignorance was never bliss. Workplace productivity, which has declined in recent years, can be optimized when data is gathered to establish baseline metrics. While these data collection options promise improvements in both productivity and workplace safety, they sometimes raise concerns around employee privacy. After all, it’s one thing to choose to wear a fitness tracker to help achieve a personal goal, and another to be monitored as a condition of employment.
Choosing a Data Collection Partner who Values Privacy
When selecting a technology partner, it’s critical to choose a safety and productivity approach that both honors employee privacy and keeps personal information safe. And once you’ve made that choice, everyone at your organization needs to understand – and feel comfortable with – exactly how the wearable technology gathers and stores information. Otherwise, no one’s wearing it.
Data collection privacy really comes down to two questions: how is information collected, and what is it used for? Just as important as the tracking solution you select is establishing a data governance and ethics policies around these data. Documenting and sharing this policy with your workforce is critical. This includes appropriate uses of the data, inappropriate uses of the data, and can even go as far as consent policies (i.e. biometrics in TX).
Common Objections to WorkSite Wearables:
“I don’t want my boss spying on me”
A frequent argument against worksite wearables is that they grant a company complete visibility into a worker’s physical location—on and off the jobsite. What’s to stop a corporation from tracking location outside of the jobsite and/or work hours? The best way to assuage these fears is to ensure that the only location data gathered is on-site.
It’s also very important when implementing these tools that you are tracking at a level that makes sense. If you don’t need to identify individuals, you may not need to leverage computer vision. If you need general location data, don’t use GPS pinpointing in unnecessary areas (like the restroom).
How Triax Technology Handles Data Collection
At Triax, we consider privacy a non-negotiable for safety wearables and other data collection methods. Our solution is designed for worksite visibility only. The proof is in how we collect data.
The invasive way: Using GPS, a company could theoretically track workers beyond the job site. Through trilateration, cellular networks create a connection for GPS satellites to gather position data.
The Triax way: By contrast, our network is localized, meaning it doesn’t make use of any GPS or cellular network. Instead, 900 MHz replaces the cellular network. And instead of connecting to satellites, we place nodes around the jobsite to determine location. If a worker isn’t physically close to one of these nodes, there’s no way for the tracking device to communicate or triangulate to determine their position. Outside of work, our wearable device is not tracking anything about the employee.
Respecting employee privacy is a core tenet of our solution. We’re proud to have over 100,000 devices deployed, with almost half on unionized workforces. With any technology solution, it is critical to work in collaboration with your workforce and be realistic. Talent is harder than ever to find, and gathering this data should ultimately serve to make their jobs safer and more productive. There is far more to gain from understanding how we are in the way of our workforces’ productivity than in policing and micromanaging.
Triax Technology: Unparalleled Data Collection Privacy
Before you choose a technology product or service, it’s critical to ask the hard questions and make informed decisions. We’re here to help you do just that. Stay tuned for our second installment of this series, where we’ll address expense and implementation.
Ready for an affordable labor productivity data solution that pays for itself in ROI? Discover Spot-r® by Triax, a comprehensive worksite solution platform that offers a proprietary blend of devices, network, application, and insights to capture, synthesize, and act on field data. Contact us today or request a free demo to gain access to unparalleled workplace safety & visibility.