EHS Management

Contextual Mobile Device Management: The Next Generation of Worksite Safety

Leading companies in construction and industrial workplaces are recognizing the promise of mobile computing and smart devices on the job, as well as quickly learning how to make the most of this technological shift. Smartphones and tablets are assisting contractors not only with capturing and managing data but also with optimizing and streamlining their operations.
Mobile device
While the benefits are numerous, companies must also intelligently manage the use of mobile devices at work to maximize their benefits. A lack of employer engagement and enforceable policy poses legitimate safety and productivity issues as workers ignore proper usage practices in hazardous working conditions and job completion rates slow down due to lost time. Studies repeatedly show that a majority of employees admit to using their devices for an hour a day or more for non-work-related browsing activities.

Mobile device usage at worksites and in industrial settings offers managers and crew members the ability to efficiently communicate on- and off-site. However, if used improperly, these devices can also result in increased worksite liability issues and significant financial loss associated with the personal injury or death of an employee. Unfortunately, the negligent actions of one worker can seriously harm another and dramatically affect the entire job—and not for the better.

This is leading industrial organizations to reevaluate how to gain all of the benefits that mobile computing offers while managing the very real impacts to worker productivity, health and safety, and information security. It is driving the need for mobile device policies that can be implemented and enforced through technological innovation.

Although traditional mobile device management (MDM) technology is an option, it has inherent limitations and isn’t always effective in enforcing usage requirements. An effective management platform must meet three key requirements:

  1. It must be device-agnostic.
  2. It must be contextually aware and able to adjust to changing conditions.
  3. It must utilize non-defeatable technology.

The use of contextual artificial intelligence (AI) allows smart devices to be as “smart” as possible, such as being able to sense when an employee is behind the wheel, using heavy equipment, or operating construction machinery. A zero-tolerance safety policy that leverages such technology enables enterprises to proactively eliminate worksite liabilities and simultaneously improve employee productivity rates.

This is where contextual mobile device management (CMDM) enters the picture. CMDM is technology that manages the functionality of mobile devices in contextual “zones,” which informs acceptable use and defines an intelligent usage policy. The CMDM platform, which resides on an employee’s mobile device, intelligently identifies the environment based on contextual indicators to take the guesswork out of policy compliance in a way that nothing else ever has. Strategically placed beacons and/or other contextual indicators help identify the employee’s context at the jobsite, and once this is identified, selected applications on his or her device are made available, while others that could distract the worker are blocked.

Configured to fit the requirements of the job and the device policy of the organization, CMDM allows jobsite managers to improve safety, productivity, and privacy by allowing employees to use their mobile devices in the right way, at the right time, and in the right place. For example, to ensure forklift operators have safe and convenient access to the work order system, warehouse managers using the CMDM platform can enable a tablet mounted to the forklift to work only when the equipment is turned off. This enforces the company’s zero-tolerance safety policy while improving the workflow efficiency of the warehouse.

Unlike with restrictive MDM policies, once employees have exited the jobsite zone, they have full access to all applications on their device. This feature of CMDM is crucial, as 59% of organizations report having a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for their workers. Also, by not physically limiting access to employees’ devices, employers are enabling their workers to engage with the technology needed to complete their jobs while relieving them of the constant notification interruptions that create safety and productivity issues. Most importantly, CMDM alleviates any privacy concerns that employees may have with regard to an employer’s access to their personal devices. The technology only manages applications and device functionality and does not record any personal information or data.

In today’s increasingly tech-savvy world, employers need to embrace—not ban—technology to reinforce productive behaviors and optimize resources for workers to efficiently complete tasks. CMDM technology isn’t about controlling end-user devices but rather helping companies to create safer, more productive workplaces that enable their employees to do their best work, which ultimately increases profitability. Best of all, the technology works when an employer needs it to and shuts down when it’s no longer needed—benefiting all involved.

Joe BoyleFor more than 20 years, Joe Boyle has led high-performance teams in technology companies, creating a proven track record of success in both software-as-a-service (SaaS) and software business models. Over the course of his career, Boyle has achieved successful outcomes in leading integration activities for these companies. As CEO at TRUCE Software, Boyle brings a passion for enhancing companies’ safety standards and improving their overall productivity through contextual mobile device management. To learn more, visit www.trucesoftware.com or e-mail info@trucesoftware.com.