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Portsmouth: App aims to inspire millions back to work

14 September 2020
The Business Magazine article image for: Portsmouth: App aims to inspire millions back to work

A not-for-profit app has been launched to help businesses check – and keep checking – the safety of their workers and workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hygieia is the brainchild of PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and founder of Digital Energy, Morgan Eldred.

He got together a team of experts to help create and test the app in the midst of the pandemic alongside completing his PhD dissertation.

He said: “If ever workers were going to be persuaded it was safe to come back, this app might be the way to do it.

“The app incorporates industrial safety processes, bringing work control to every person in every environment, in every company.

“We have built the app to be easy to use, but also to ensure it measures not just the obvious things, such as when a work station was last cleaned, but also unseen risks, such as workers’ confidence in their workplace being safe.

“In an era of risk from the virus and the sometimes startling fear some people have about going back to work, we hope giving immediate and accurate information on how safety is being managed will inspire confidence in both employers and employees, and help industry get back to work.”

The app uses real-time measures, including checklists to control the safety of the work environment, including, for example, checking levels of PPE or sanitiser. It also tracks interactions to ensure social distancing and so it can warn employees if they have been in contact with someone who has recently tested positive.

And it assesses workers’ wellbeing, to help inspire confidence in workers and give employers a real-time insight into workers’ sense of safety.

The app has been trialled in the UK, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the US. So far, it has been tested in three fire stations, an oil and gas company, a logistics company, a law firm, a private ambulance service, a university and a retail outlet.

The app is available on the app and play stores and via:

Among its features are:

- customisable controls to workflow, the work environment and workplace safety policies;

- tools to allow employees to socially distance via location check-ins and logging staff interactions;

- monitoring the wellbeing of staff at every level, from the shop floor to the boardroom;

- a platform to make collaboration simple and fast; and

- Artificial Intelligence and data science analytics to deliver reports.

The team behind its development includes experts in human-computer interaction, human behaviour and data science from research and industry in the UK, Europe and the US.

One of them is Dr Alice Good, who supervised Mr Eldred’s PhD and MSc studies in the university’s School of Computing.

She said: “Keeping People safe at work during these unprecedented times is crucial and this user-friendly tool not only facilitates that but also recognises the importance of monitoring the wellbeing of the workforce as well as their perception of safety in the workplace. We are very proud one of our PhD students has been so altruistic in the drive to help us all return to some semblance of normality and help us keep safe at work, while this pandemic rages on.”

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