H&S Manager

Author Bio ▼

My career started in the construction industry and I have followed a path from project management, facilities management to health and safety. I continue to be surprised that there is always something new to learn in this fascinating field and a common thread is my interest in the use of software having graduated from punch cards at the school computer society to the latest trends. Lately the boundless possibilities of Artificial Intelligence applied to safety have captured my imagination and I hope to show you, the reader, a hint of the future.
January 26, 2018

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Future of safety

The fourth industrial revolution: Are you ready to shape the future in 2018?

John Kersey offers five ideas to those organisations, businesses and individuals who see the ‘Industry 4.0’ trend as an amazing opportunity to shape the future.

“Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years…..” Andrew Ng – Google Brain

There are many indicators that 2018 will be a breakthrough year for AI in the safety industry.

A Verdantix webinar – “Predictions for EHS Technology and Innovation in 2018” – highlights these main trends for 2018:

  • Mobile apps; audits, incidents and observations
  • Enhancing EHS software user experience
  • Drones for site inspections
  • Virtual reality safety training
  • Pilot tests of digital safety tests
  • Pilot test of fatigue monitors for drivers.

Some might be daunted because it seems complex, or expensive, or are not sure where to start so here are 5 ideas to help inspire you to join the digital revolution.

1) Have a tech road map

It’s always good to have a plan and start with planning. Have a good hard look at your enterprise and think about which areas could benefit from digitisation. Being brutal in some industries it will be a case of making the change to retain innovative or competitive advantage.

The use of drones for aerial survey and inspection work is fast becoming the norm. The tech world uses Design Thinking to brainstorm ideas, prioritise these, and generate options or use cases.  Think about the sources of data you already have – databases and how you might use or supplement them.

2) Find an AI ally

Unless you already have in-house IoT resources (and they have spare time to help!) then you will need to find an AI ally to move forwards. You might think this could be the first step but your ally will want to know what problems you have they can solve or establish use cases.

It helps if you have done started this. Your ally will need to be in sympathy with the organisation – large corporate organisations will look to the tech giants such as Google or IBM or large IoT practices. Mid-range organisations such as SMEs or those with niche project needs will look to the ballooning number of AI practices such as those in London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ on Old Street, for example Filament AI.

Smaller organisations or practices could even use students or lone developers, they can even get accounts to access IBM Watson and other leading edge tools.

3) Become AI accessible

As more organisations become IoT focussed then they will look to get digital information rather than analogue. Information will be expected to be accessible by IoT systems or Cloud based. You are starting to see many more measuring devices that are digital, store data and can upload their payload to a Cloud database – no more site records.

Once in digital format it can be re-purposed for BIM (building information modelling) or other applications. Some devices may need to have a transmitting protocol that can be received by a hub. Data providers may need to set up an API (application program interface) allowing a client IoT system to continuously draw data on demand. An example here would be AI systems needing weather predictions say for work scheduling could automatically go to a system like The Weather Company and get this.   

4) Bot yourself

Many see chatbots (relations to the familiar virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana etc) as a nice entry point. They help stream off routine calls on attention and are proving very popular with both service providers and customers.

The proviso here is they are competent and well-formed so this requires prior chatbot expertise or careful development followed by a soft introduction. A good example here is the virtual assistant developed for Arthritis Research UK.

5) Become a future shaper

A major shift in safety is the trend towards predictive analytics (or predictive metrics). This is a means of using AI to predict future events, their type, when they may occur (time) and location (space). Traditionally the safety profession has looked at the past as a judge of performance but surely it is future performance that is key?

This is starting to move quickly into the safety arena. Some commentators estimate that it is currently 80% accurate but even that is better than no foresight. How long will it be before safety practitioners be asked for their safety record in the next 3 years rather than the last 3 years?

John Kersey is Health and Safety Manager at ISS. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any commercial, academic or professional institution I am associated with. Mention of a specific product or service does not necessarily equal endorsement.

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John Kersey
John Kersey
6 years ago

“Digital safety tests” should read “Digital safety vests”