Safety in the hands of the people

Wearable technology and AI is transforming incident prevention and prediction in the workplace, says Danny Reeves, of Alcumus Group’s Info Exchange.

Safety Management's Belinda Liversedge speaks to managing director of Alcumus’ Info Exchange, Danny Reeves.

BL: You’ve recently been appointed as new managing director of Info Exchange, a risk management software provider. How is it going

DR: It’s going really well. Five months in, I’m starting to get a good feel for the market, and have had some great conversations with our clients and my team around where we need to be going forward. 

The market is really buzzing in terms of what is possible with the use of technologies and with things like wearables, apps on smart devices and predictive analytics; these are currently hot topics of debate. I’m looking forward to utilising my experience and implementing an innovative product roadmap for Info Exchange that really adds value to our clients as they continue or begin to embark on their digital journey.

BL: On LinkedIn you say you’re an ‘evangelist for the shift from IT as a technology and support function, to an outright business leadership function’. Can you give an example how this has worked in practice in your experience

DR: It’s a view I have held for many years. A great example, I feel, is the elevation of technology experienced people occupying a seat on the boards of not just the FTSE 100 but mid-market size organisations, with the objective of driving and investing in digital transformation initiatives.

There is a real ambition to use technology together with data to provide data driven decisions on everything from ways of working, trends into new markets, and design of critical infrastructure to maintenance of machinery in the industrial world with industry 4.0.

Wearable technology and AI is transforming incident prevention and prediction in the workplace, says Danny Reeves. Photograph: iStock

BL: How do you see IT helping employers to more effectively manage health and safety risks in the workplace

DR: At Alcumus we see the potential to put health and safety directly in the hands of the people, regardless of whether they are an employee or otherwise.

Using smart devices with apps, the web or wearables, the person who is immediately available to spot and report an issue should be able to do so in a way that is intuitive and encourages them to regularly put this into practice.

It opens up great opportunities to report findings. This data, together with Artificial Intelligence, can really enable employers to spot patterns to help predict and prevent incidents from happening. Technology can also continue to help by utilising that data even further; whether it be using Augmented Reality for training or wearables that warn you about a potential hazard before it happens.

BL: What most excites you about the potential of IT and how it can help the health and safety of organisations in particular

DR: The example just given is exciting on many levels. Through the use of technology we have the power to improve response times to certain hazardous situations, prevent future incidences of such situations and improve the health and safety of the people we have a responsibility to protect.

BL: GDPR has taken up a lot of time for many companies trying to adapt to the new rules of privacy and security. How have the new stipulations affected the work you do at Info Exchange

DR: Mostly, our clients are keen to understand how we are jointly protecting personal data through system security and access permissions. However, despite many requests for review we are not finding many examples that require our clients to change or adapt their processes, our clients appear to be on top of things, so lots of review work but little change in activity.

BL: A crystal ball question for you. Technology has the opportunity to revolutionise the workplace, but we cannot use all of it. Which technology in particular do you think will have the most impact on the way we work in the near future

DR: I think a combination of the way we deploy tools into the workplace and the ability to interact with it, ask questions of it and analyse the data it provides in ways that are natural and intuitive to us, is something that is increasingly seeping into our working environments.

Technologies such as digital and AI assistants for organising diaries and meetings and sending automatic information postings directly to us about things that are important in our roles, through to dynamic ways of working and work scheduling will make us even more efficient and effective, in ways we haven’t even discovered yet.

BL: Do you see any risks or dangers in our increasing reliance on technology

DR: Just ask anyone who has lost a smart phone recently, or had their broadband go down at home for an extended period what the dangers are of over reliance on technology.

The more accessible and smart we make the technology, the more we tend to rely on it. So, it’s with a healthy pinch of caution that we should consider technology as an augmented part of the way we live our lives, not the be all and end all for all our needs.