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Augmenting people with technology

July 23, 2024 by Alistair Enser

At Reliance High Tech we have been working on a project to digitise our business, and over the last 12 months, this programme has accelerated.

Why did we go down this route? In part, we recognised that there are an awful lot of daily tasks performed across our business that are necessary, but are not reliant on particular skills, and they don’t necessarily need to be done by the person who is doing them. So we have been working hard on our back end systems and services, automating them where possible, to release highly skilled people where they can really add value for us and our customers.

I regularly talk about the benefits of technology, when implemented for ‘the greater good’. One example is to be found in the work of police forces. Last week, I was encouraged to see Andy Marsh, Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, talk about his officers’ positive experiences of using body-worn video in an incident involving knives, that could easily have got out of hand. Whether providing a deterrent factor, being used for evidence, or even safeguarding the public and the police to accurately and unequivocally record an event unfolding, there are many benefits to gain from this technology. At Reliance Protect we have seen a huge increase in interest for our own body-worn platform, no doubt driven by the changing environment, and faster acceptance of technology, which now also stretches to protecting mental health workers or retail staff policing mask wearing within stores and shopping centres.

Freedom through technology

Building on this, I had an instructive meeting this week with a potential tech partner who provides analytics support into care services and custodial environments. The technology is able to monitor people’s vital health signs using video analytics, measuring pulse rate, breathing rate and trends, even highlighting if a patient is likely to fall out of bed. It is completely unintrusive and contactless, is designed to provide improved safeguarding and provides an extra ‘pair of eyes’ for the users.

Given our current challenges for efficiency and resource it struck me that there are many applications, whether it be care staff performing regular observations on patients which ordinarily may disturb patient sleep and recovery, or police personnel in custody suites performing safe-guarding checks, that could benefit from a ‘helping hand’. At a time when our highly trained NHS and Police are under constant pressure to manage front-line personnel while juggling priorities, could this assistance provide them with greater bandwidth and effectiveness, while improving care and reducing risk?

One of our key areas of focus this year in police and custodial work is reviewing the risks and drivers they face in this fast-changing world, and how evolving technologies can free up valuable frontline resources which might otherwise be used for admin and monitoring. The pandemic has increased our use of, and trust in technology, and with even greater pressure placed on people, we should all really focus on the art of the possible.

Number crunching

These resource challenges are applicable to a range of industries, not just care, enforcement, custodial and retail. I read an article in Data Centre Magazine with interest as it suggested that data centre staff levels fell by 25% due to Covid-19, at a time when data centres are growing at 20% per year. This dichotomy certainly creates pressure and risk, whether it be health and safety, staff welfare, security or business resilience.

What can we do to reduce the burden on those staff that are left to run data a centre, to help them do more value-added work and to provide early warning of potential issues such as unusual temperature changes or lone worker protection, not just checking for theft, fire or flood? As I have written in the past, this tech is not about replacing humans, but freeing them up – augmenting their roles in the same way that co-bots help workers on factory floors.

The challenges faced by law enforcement are different to those that data centres must face, of course, but business and society have come to rely on data centres more and more during the pandemic and in a different way their role is becoming just as critical.

So I will leave you with a thought and a question. With greater reliance on the cloud, the imminent arrival of 5G and the greater adoption of automation, there is an argument to be made that data centres should be considered an integral part of the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), alongside other utilities.

It’s an argument made well by Matt Pullen, EVP and Managing Director – Europe, CyrusOne, in this article, and as arguably the UK’s leading independent provider into National Security and CNI applications we at Reliance would agree. What do you think? Let me know in the comments .

Stay safe.