Category: Visitor management

4 minutes read time

Learnings from Facilities Integrate

Just before the Christmas break, our sales executive James attended Facilities Integrate in Auckland, New Zealand. With most trade shows across the world canceled or postponed in 2020, we felt incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to attend a non-virtual event.

It was fantastic to meet with customers (both existing and prospective) in person, and catch up on the impact such a turbulent year has had on your businesses. 

We noticed a few common themes in the conversations we were having with attendees. In the midst of a pandemic, processes have had to change. We caught up with James to hear what his key takeaways from the event were.

Facilities Integrate

James, first off, can you tell us a little more about Facilities Integrate?

Facilities Integrate is a trade event specifically for facilities managers. It’s a great opportunity to network with peers in the same industry, try out the latest equipment and technologies, source the best suppliers and generally keep on top of what’s happening in the facilities space. I feel very lucky to have been able to talk to our customers in person again!

I’ll bet. When talking to the attendees, what did you notice was the biggest challenge facing facilities managers during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Contact tracing came up a lot. More specifically, facilities managers were looking for flexible solutions to make signing in as easy as possible for everyone. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of our customers understood the importance of signing in visitors. However, it was generally the high security or hazardous sites that were concerned with signing in employees and contractors, too. With the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s all changed. 

Now, every workplace has a responsibility to protect the health of those working in its duty of care. One of the most crucial ways to do this is through contact tracing. This means signing everyone in each day is more important than ever. Lots of the facilities managers were looking for easy ways to turn signing in and out into a habit for employees. 

How can WhosOnLocation help with that? 

WhosOnLocation offers an incredibly flexible platform with 12 different ways to sign in – so there’s something for every workplace, and every employee. We often find our customers will use a few different methods at one site, to make it as easy as possible for employees to remember to sign in. 

Which methods are the most popular?

Some employees prefer to download the WolMobile app on their smartphone and use the auto sign in/out feature. This is the most foolproof way of ensuring everyone on-site is accounted for. It uses geofencing technology to update on-site status. Employees and contractors don’t even need to lift a finger.

Others might prefer to sign in using a touch screen kiosk in reception. Or scan a card to sign in with one simple step. Or even just provide their name to the front of house staff. 

Offering a variety of methods makes it easier to sign everyone in. So you can be safe in the knowledge your contact tracing processes are as robust as possible. 

Is there a method that’s preferred by customers? 

The kiosk (using an iPad or tablet) is the most common way to sign in. This is especially the case now we have released our touchless kiosk feature. By setting your kiosk to touchless mode, you can now present a QR code on the screen. Guests scan the code to sign in from their own smartphone. 

Employees, contractors and visitors simply scan the code to see the entire kiosk experience replicated in their browser. It’s been a game-changer during COVID, as customers looked for a more hygienic, hands-free alternative to the sign-in kiosk. 

Did QR code posters come up in conversation at the event at all? 

Great question – it was really exciting to demo QR code posters for the first time at the event. These posters are an easy, low-cost way to deploy WhosOnLocation, as no expensive kiosk hardware is required.  

They’re also a great way to make your sign-in process more robust. If you have multiple doors, you can use posters at each access point. This helps to capture any employees or contractors who use side entrances to enter or leave.

New to WhosOnLocation? 

All features mentioned are available in a single subscription cost. Start your free trial today – no credit card required. 

4 minutes read time

Start the year right – a software update checklist

The start of a new year is a great time to tackle some admin. It’s time to put our minds to all those jobs we’ve been putting off until ‘after Christmas’ and start the year as we mean to go on. One of the job’s on your list is likely to involve updating your IT systems and carrying out a software update – ensuring you have the correct team contact information in your accounts, you’re running on the most updated versions, and your processes are all up-to-date.  

Keep on top of changes

Aside from the usual system and software update, there are a number of other things to check.  If you’ve had members of your team move to new roles or change companies in recent months, it’s likely you’ll have some tidying up to do. Health and safety software relies on up-to-date information to ensure the right people are on hand in an emergency, and your data is correct and ready for auditing. WhosOnLocation is no different.

WhosOnLocation has also released some great new features, and is discontinuing WolMobile Legacy, so now’s a great opportunity to check you’re getting the most out of your subscription. Get started with this handy checklist:

Remove access

Once a team member has switched roles, it’s important to review their system access. We’re all in the habit of closing email addresses and revoking badge passes, but what about the other systems they’ve been using? 

If out of date contact details are listed in your account, important information could be going to the wrong people. Take some time to review who’s listed as an admin or account owner, and ensure your safety processes are foolproof. 

Review your triggers

Similarly, it’s important to review who is listed as a point of contact for the automated processes in your account. Triggers can be used for all sorts of alerts. You can receive a notification if a contractor has an expired safety induction, or if someone signs in against your health policy. Review the contacts you have listed to receive these alerts to ensure your procedures are robust. 

Update to the latest versions

We’re all guilty of putting off a system and software update until the last minute. This can have a real impact on productivity and performance in the long run. 

At WhosOnLocation, we released a much-improved version of WolMobile around this time last year. Check you’re on the latest version to make the most of new and improved safety features. Start your migration and ensure a smooth transition once the old app is turned off. Here are five reasons to migrate today. 

Tidy up your employee profile information

One of our more recent updates gives you a great excuse to revisit the information you store against your employee and contractor profiles in WhosOnLocation. Custom Fields gives you the ability to tailor the information you store, so you can get as specific as you need. Need to record an employee’s eligibility to work? Or log your contractors’ vehicle registrations? Create the fields you need and edit as you go. 

Automatically erase old records

We recently improved our automatic erase feature to include employees and service providers as well as visitors. It’s likely you’ll have a huge amount of sign in/out data stored in your account. Tidy up your records and strengthen your privacy measures by automatically erasing records after a set amount of time.

Move on from Internet Explorer

If you haven’t heard, Microsoft will be ending support for Internet Explorer from August 2020. Microsoft is encouraging all users to move to Microsoft Edge instead. WhosOnLocation will be following suit, so make sure your kiosks are running on a supported browser.

5 minutes read time

2020 wrap-up: the year that didn’t go to plan

2020 has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at all of us. At WhosOnLocation, we count ourselves very lucky to have been in a position to keep business running, with our team working remotely as required. Our main focus has been to help our customers keep their people safe, and that’s led to a lot of new features! In fact, there’s been so much development going on, we caught up with UX designer Karl Weber for our 2020 wrap-up. 

2020 wrap-up

We started the year with some improvements to our geolocation report, with a cleaner design and the ability to view historical records.

In March, we scrapped the rest of our carefully made plans, threw the roadmap out of the window and began reacting to our customer’s needs. 

First, we tackled working remotely, allowing customers to know who was working, even as offices and facilities closed. This was soon followed by hygienic touchless kiosks, QR code posters and the ability to ask custom health screening questions in WolMobile and with the sign-in/out manager. 

We finished the year with custom fields, an integration with Amazon’s Alexa and 8 new languages. Phew!

The highlights

With so many fantastic releases this year, we caught up with our UX designer Karl to uncover his favorites for our 2020 wrap-up.

It’s been a busy year for the dev team – which of the new features do you think is the biggest game-changer?

That’s a tough call – there have been some big changes this year. The new touchless functionality with QR code posters and more widespread custom question support is the most visible and obvious improvement, but I think custom fields has the potential to really shake things up. 

Being able to completely customize employee and service provider profiles with any information makes the whole system much more flexible. From a design standpoint, the drag-and-drop field creation workflow has a lot of potential to improve the rest of the application, too.

Nice – so what led us to develop custom fields?

Customer requests (so many)! Custom fields may seem a relatively niche feature on the surface, but for the customers who need them, it makes a big difference. We had many requests to add specific fields over the years, as well as some large enterprise customers who needed the flexibility of completely custom fields.

Any tips to getting the best out of custom fields? 

We’re currently working on combining custom fields with triggers, and this is where things can get really interesting. The person field, time, and phone number fields allow for some really powerful behaviors. For example, you could add a field for an employee’s teammates and then set up a trigger to notify all of them if that employee is signed into a hazardous zone (or remote work) for longer than expected. Or you could define an employee’s standard work hours and then notify them or their supervisor if they forget to sign in. 

So that’s your favorite. What about the customers? Which feature had the best uptake this year? 

Touchless kiosks, without a doubt. 32% of all customers are using touchless kiosks, which is a huge uptake in a short space of time. This all comes down to hygiene and contact tracing. It’s been a very difficult year for everyone, and as lockdowns are lifted and people go back to work, COVID-19 has brought some unique challenges for organizations to be able to operate in a safe and responsible way. 

Touchless kiosks allow our customers to keep accurate records of who has been on-site for contact tracing while maintaining social-distancing. 

So on the other side of the coin, which feature would get the award for ‘unsung hero’? 

The Alexa integration! We’ve been playing with it in the office and it’s already really useful. Being able to have Alexa greet visitors by name and tell them where to go, announce to the office that a delivery has arrived and say who it is for, or remind the last person on-site to check the balcony door and turn off the lights is a game-changer. It’s only in its infancy, but the ability to connect to the internet-of-things and interact with people in a more human way is the next step for smart-offices.

Any hints as to what we can expect to see next year? 

Lots more. I don’t want to say too much but we’re already working on a few big things. Custom Questions for pre-registered visitors is going to be interesting and will strengthen the rest of the touchless sign-in feature-set. It will allow our users to invite guests to an event, and then send them a request to complete their visitor profile. This can include any basic questions as well as custom questionnaires, so the customer can have all of the information they need, and the experience when the visitor arrives on site will be even more seamless. 

Get started

That’s it for our 2020 wrap-up. All of the features mentioned are available today, and included in your WhosOnLocation subscription. Visit our Help Center for step-by-step instructions on enabling all of our features. 

New to WhosOnlocation? 

Get started with a FREE 30 day trial today. No credit card required. 

5 minutes read time

How to make visitors feel welcome (and safe) again

When COVID-19 hit the headlines earlier this year, businesses slowly started to change their operations. Travel plans were the first to be abandoned – as conferences and industry events were postponed or cancelled. Next, it was the turn of visitors, as external meetings were carried out over the phone rather than in person. Finally, we saw facilities closing their doors altogether, taking their business online wherever possible. 

Visitors haven’t been welcomed into facilities for a very long time, and the general consensus is that opening doors to guests again puts everyone in a vulnerable position.

However, as we return to the workplace, we must eventually invite our clients, customers and business partners inside again. The question is – how do we make them feel welcome? How do we make them feel safe? 

Start with employee and service provider safety

For many countries, including much of the US and the UK, the majority of organizations are yet to open up their facilities to employees and service providers again. 

Before we can think about visitors, it’s important to get things up and running as safely as possible for our employees and contractors. There are a number of steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those in your duty of care during a pandemic, including: 

  • Ensuring physical distancing is possible
  • Preventing those who pose a risk from entering
  • Implementing contact tracing 
  • Accommodating flexible work schedules
  • Giving staff the time and space to get back up to speed
  • Being mindful of individual circumstances – ensuring employees aren’t putting themselves, or those they care for, at risk

You can read more tips for getting back to work post COVID-19 in our latest white paper.

Opening your doors to visitors

When it comes to welcoming visitors, there are a number of ways you can minimize risk and reassure guests and employees that their safety is a priority. 

Reach out in advance

Taking the time to send visitors an email in advance of their visit can provide some much needed peace of mind. Use this opportunity to lay out your pandemic policy, ask they rearrange their meeting if they begin to feel unwell and explain the measures you’re taking to ensure their safety whilst on-site.

WolPass can completely automate this process for you. When employees send calendar invites to external guests, WhosOnLocation’s calendar integration can pre-register the visitor in the system and automatically generate a customizable email. This WolPass contains all your arrival instructions, including a QR or barcode that can be used for fast-track sign in. 

Make your sign in process safe

If you’re signing visitors in with your front of house team, you’ll need to ensure your staff are protected, and visitors are adhering to physical distancing during the sign in process.

If you’re using a self-serve kiosk to sign guests in, it’s worth noting the average sign-in process involves touching the screen around 35 times. Considering COVID-19 is spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, this isn’t ideal. You’ll need to ensure you keep a bottle of hand sanitizer next to the kiosk and remember to clean the screen frequently.

There is an easier way: our enhanced touchless sign in feature makes the process much safer.

Sign in from your smartphone's browser

We already supported touchless sign in for pre-registered visitors, but our most recent product update means even walk-in visitors are able to register themselves on-site safely. Visitors simply scan the QR code on the kiosk and complete sign in using their own smartphone.  

By making the sign in process touchless and compliant with your pandemic policy, your visitors will feel reassured that you’ve taken steps to protect their health during the visit. 

Tailor your welcome message

If you’re using a self serve kiosk or touchless solution, a few simple tweaks to your summary screen message can go a long way towards making your visitors feel welcome. Try something like: 

“Welcome back. We’ve asked our employees to maintain a 2 meter distance from visitors for your safety, and provided hand sanitizer throughout the facility – please help yourself. It’s good to see you again.”

Create a comfortable waiting environment

If your reception waiting area is scruffy, cluttered and anything short of spotlessly clean, your visitors are likely to feel uncomfortable as they wait. Regular cleaning is always important, but your visitors are more likely than ever to pick up on dirt and dust in the wake of COVID-19. 

A sparkling clean facility shows you’re taking the pandemic, and the health of your people, seriously. Similarly, if you’re using a touchless sign in solution, continue to send the right message by removing any shared reading materials or drink stations – which leads us on to… 

Contactless refreshments

Offering your guests a drink is visitor etiquette 101. However, this simple act requires some extra thought in light of COVID-19. Arranging a contactless method for serving drinks and ensuring your front of house team wash their hands between cups of tea and coffee will mean your safe sign in procedures weren’t carried out in vain.  

Already a customer?

The features discussed in this blog post are available with all subscriptions. Get started with touchless sign in today. 

New to WhosOnLocation?

Try it for free with a 30 day trial. No credit card required. 

4 minutes read time

Your sign in process just went fully touchless

Our most anticipated feature of the year has landed – fully touchless sign in is now available in your account. So what does that mean for customers, and how can you get started? We’ve covered everything you need to know in this blog post, so you can create a touchless kiosk today. 

What is touchless sign in? 

Touchless sign in is a hygienic way to allow visitors, service providers and employees to mark themselves as on or off-site. 

There are many ways to sign in using WhosOnLocation, but the most common is to use a touch screen kiosk. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, we all became more aware of the ways viruses and bacteria are spread – and for many, a touchless kiosk became a requirement.

A touchless kiosk

Although we already offered touchless sign in for pre-registered visitors, and auto sign in/out via our WolMobile app, there are a number of great WhosOnLocation features which couldn’t be used in tandem with these options. 

Our latest enhancement utilises the kiosk and all of the great features which accompany it, so you can get the full WhosOnLocation experience touch-free. 

How does it work? 

Our touchless sign in solution uses a QR code to enable visitors, service providers and employees to scan and sign in on their smartphone. Here’s how it works in four simple steps: 

How touchless sign in works - WhosOnLocation

Same great kiosk experience 

Touchless kiosks are easy to set up, and will carry over all your existing kiosk settings. Touchless kiosks work seamlessly with your favorite WhosOnLocation features, including: 

  • Custom questions
  • Photo capture
  • Badge pass printing
  • Multi-language sign in
  • Acknowledgment notices
  • Signature capture for NDAs and waivers

Security first 

As an ISO 27001 accredited company, you know you’re in safe hands with WhosOnLocation. We’ve taken a number of measures to ensure touchless kiosks are secure. 

How we’re keeping your facility secure

Auto-refresh QR codes

QR codes immediately refresh after every use, so no one can sign in to your facility unless they are actually on-site. In the unlikely event a group scans the code at the same time and attempts to sign in together, the code will only be valid for the first five people who follow the link. 

Manual codes

For those who aren’t able to scan QR codes, we also offer the option to input a code manually. These manual codes update whenever the QR code refreshes, and there is a limit to the number of times a device can input a code. 

Time limits

To ensure touchless sign in only used as intended, we’ve imposed a number of time restraints. For example, once a QR code has been scanned, the user must start signing in within 5 minutes. Once started, they must complete sign in within an hour. 

Once signed in, they will only have access to the sign out page, and won’t be able to navigate back to the kiosk questions. The sign out page will time out if not used within 24 hours. 

Suggested settings for you

When you enable your touchless kiosk, there are a number of settings we suggest you review. They include:

Search result drop downs

To protect the data of your visitors, service providers and employees, we suggest you disable the returning visitor search function, and require an exact match when searching for names. This will prevent guests capturing names in your database on their smartphone. 

Triggers

Does your facility use triggers to unlock doors when someone signs in? Unlike a visitor signing in at a fixed kiosk, with touchless, the visitor does not need to be physically next to your door to sign in. If your facility has strict security needs, and you feel uncomfortable with doors unlocking remotely, you may wish to review your current process.  

Photo capture

Finally, you may want to make photo capture optional rather than required, to enhance the visitor experience. It isn’t uncommon for visitors to have restrictive camera settings for their smartphone, and feel uncomfortable about granting permission to access their phone’s apps. We recommend you give your guests the chance to skip this step.

Downloaded our handy poster

Place this poster next to your kiosk and help guide your visitors through the touchless sign-in process. 

What’s next?

The hard work doesn’t end there – we’ll be bringing custom questions to WolMobile and the front-of-house sign in/out manager soon. Watch this space… 

Ready to get started? 

Enabling touchless sign in is easy. This article will walk you through it in no time. 

4 minutes read time

Myth busting visitor management for facility managers

Guest post from Lee Odess.

For large enterprise and corporate entities, in regular times, facility managers are caught in the middle of managing many department needs and wants. Bolt-on a global crisis like COVID-19, and those demands exponentially increase. Keeping abreast of technology changes can be daunting, and preconceived notions, better known as myths, can creep into the selection process.

Visitor management systems are a great example.

Before the crisis, facility managers were one of the stakeholders in a visitor management system. Sometimes driving or participating in the selection, adoption, installation, and maintenance of these systems. Traditionally, the main driver for the adoption of a visitor management system was identification, compliance, and notification. The benefits and value are still relevant, but the use cases have expanded given the crisis. In turn, so have the myths about what a visitor management system is and the value it creates.

Let’s take a look at the top four typical myths of visitor management:

ROI is low. I have a clipboard or a legacy system that can do the same.

This myth is a story about the system capabilities and the value creation of them. Like other examples where software has helped mature an industry, visitor management is no different. Today’s modern visitor management systems have expanded beyond the clipboard and the visitor and have become a dynamic digital front end and operating system for the enterprise, schools and universities, multifamily communities, and regulated facilities delivering a ton of added value.

Visitor management is only a feature of access control.

Broadly valid up until recent developments. Many now see this as inverted: Access control is becoming a feature of visitor management. Why? With the evolution of how we define a “visitor” to encompass not only guests but also employees, contractors, and anyone who comes to your facility, the visitor management systems are now identity management and workflow management systems. They can work stand-alone or participate as the digital interfaces of your building management systems.

 Wireless systems are not as reliant.

This one is tricky because it has less to do with the specific system and more to do with the configuration and your partner. It’s true that there are systems on the market that are lousy, despite how good the configuration or partner is, but let’s assume you are selecting the correct and reputable system for your use case. With that assumption in place, leading companies in the market now have sound knowledge and methods in place that eliminate this as a problem. My suggestion is to work with the leaders in visitor management – their systems and configurations are robust and reliable, and they’ll be able to answer any questions or break down complexities for you.

Another system just brings another problem.

I hear you. I do. I’ll go as far as to say, “I feel you.” Just like in myth three above, this comes down to your selection process. The industry, companies, and systems have grown up. Multiple systems don’t have to be problematic – companies that understand the value of partnership have worked diligently to ensure integration of systems is seamless and easy. They are robust and built for the enterprise.

Summary

In summary, although historically visitor management systems were developed for single-use low return, features of a more extensive system, the times have changed. With the increased demands of your facilities to know who is who, in some cases, before they arrive, and then to have the workflows in place to manage the processes, I suggest you dust off the old perception of visitor management and take a look at what is on the market today. The moment is now.

Lee Odess is one of the most accomplished and knowledgeable Building Access experts in the world.  He is the Founder of E+L+C, and former executive of Allegion, a billion-dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry. He also served as an Executive of Unikey, a start-up that pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry and began his career as an Executive with the first cloud-based physical access control manufacturer, Brivo.

Currently, Lee is the founder of www.InsideAccessControl.com and www.InsideVisitorManagement.com, a media and blogging platform focused on the physical access control and visitor management industry, and Group337, a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the commercial real estate, proptech, and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control, and IoT industry.

4 minutes read time

Listening to your feedback with touchless sign in

COVID-19 has thrown the entire world a curveball. As everything from travel plans to major global events have been cancelled or put on hold, individuals and businesses all over the world have received a masterclass in flexibility. 

Like the majority of businesses, at WhosOnLocation we’ve had to pivot our thinking, re-work our plans and become more reactive to the changing needs of our customers. That’s where our touchless solution comes in. 

How can WhosOnLocation help in a pandemic?

We’ve been asked this question a lot in recent months. As experts in people presence software, it’s our mission to help customers mitigate risks to their visitors, employees and service providers through constant innovation. 

Before COVID-19 hit the news, WhosOnLocation already had a robust feature set that could help customers reduce the risk of spreading a virus within their facilities, including: 

  • Pandemic screening and alerts when an at-risk person signs in
  • Contact tracing with a digital record of everyone on-site / in contact with an affected individual
  • Maximum occupancy rules to adhere to social distancing
  • ‘Zoning’ to assign workers an area and minimise exposure
  • Acknowledgment notices to communicate your entry policy

However, more was required. A global pandemic like COVID-19 puts every single customer at risk, and ensuring we had ways to mitigate these risks became our top priority. 

Having your say

When the world went into lockdown earlier this year, we started reaching out to our customers from all sectors to ask about their business needs, and how WhosOnLocation could help. 

From picking up the phone and having a good old chat, we identified a few key areas that needed addressing. These included:

  1. A way to keep track of teams who were working remotely and from home.
  2. A touchless solution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when signing in at a kiosk.

Working remotely

First off, we got straight into a working remotely solution in response to businesses closing their physical facilities throughout the world. 

Released back in April, working remotely allows employees and service providers to sign in for work from their homes (or anywhere!). In doing so, our customers have a clear record of everyone who is working in their duty of care at any one time, regardless of where they are. 

This feature really comes into its own when used in the WolMobile application. Those who are signed in for work remotely will be able to view important safety notices in-app, receive instant messages from their employer and send their location to a nominated safety operator in the event of an emergency. 

Touchless sign in 

Before we’d even heard the word COVID-19, WhosOnLocation already accommodated a number of ways to sign in hands free, including: 

  • Scanning a token
  • WolMobile app
  • Brivo integration using Onair app
  • With the sign-in/out manager
  • For pre-registered visitors using WolPass

However, from our conversations with customers, we realised a more seamless solution is required during a pandemic, and beyond. 

To get a deeper understanding of your needs, we carried out an in-depth survey.

Touchless – The results are in

So when it comes to a touchless solution, what was the verdict? 

We drilled deep asking a number of questions to help guide our solution. Here are the headlines: 

77% of those surveyed* said they’d rather use a touchless, self service kiosk than sign visitors in with their front of house team. 

76% would rather keep things digital, using a touchless kiosk to display a QR code, rather than a printable poster. 

64% would rather tailor the sign in questions they ask for visitors, than for employees or service providers. 

69% didn’t require a touchless solution for deliveries. 

*Of a survey of 240 customers with varying role types.

So what’s next? 

Our brand new, touchless solution will be released in the coming weeks, offering you a way to sign in all visitor types, and integrate with all the best parts of WhosOnLocation.

Our touchless solution will allow visitors, employees and service providers to register themselves as on-site using their own devices, for a simple, safer, sign-in experience. 

More information to come very soon, watch this space!

New to WhosOnLocation? 

Take a free 30 day trial today.

5 minutes read time

A modern-day pandemic and the role of technology

COVID-19 might be a brand new viral strain, but pandemics are a threat as old as time. In fact, the viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause disease have killed more people throughout history than anything else. 

The world has evolved since smallpox was eradicated in 1979, with huge progress in everything from medical science to the way we interact socially. So has technology left us more vulnerable to infectious diseases? Or has it helped minimize their impact? 

How technology has made us more vulnerable

Transport and connectivity

Technology has long played a part in the spread of infectious diseases. The introduction of maritime travel allowed illness to spread across the world in a way that wasn’t previously possible. The plague and smallpox were spread along popular trade routes, and the Spanish influenza was passed between military camps during the first world war.

Improved connectivity has left us more vulnerable than ever. At the end of 2019, it was possible to reach any country in the world in around 20 hours flying time. On average, over 100,000 flights were taking off per day around the globe, allowing viruses and bacteria to spread at a rapid rate when they might previously have died out.

Misinformation

There’s another downside to heightened connectivity – and that’s the spread of misinformation. 

The internet, TV and radio allow governments and medical professionals to offer education and guidance during a pandemic. However, the internet allows misinformation to spread as quickly as the virus. This is a real threat to the public – so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has a web page dedicated to debunking COVID-19 myths. 

Some harmful misinformation the WHO has warned against include drinking high levels of alcohol and ingesting bleach.

How technology has helped

Probably the most obvious way technology has helped during the COVID-19 pandemic is to significantly speed up the process for identifying and understanding the virus, making a possible vaccine viable in record time. 

There are a surprising number of other ways technology has helped, too: 

3D Printing

Problems with the supply chain and heightened demand left many countries facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Thankfully, the 3D printing community has come together to help. 

Ventilator parts and visors are now being made in garages and workshops all over the US, helping to protect those working on the front line. 

Artificial Intelligence

A Toronto-based AI platform built to monitor health data (Blue Dot) was able to identify the pandemic early on, and predict how it would spread across the world using flight path data. Although this information wasn’t used to its full potential this time, artificial intelligence is set to be a useful tool in pandemic management in the future. 

Chatbots

Chatbots have proven a useful tool for both gathering and communicating vast amounts of data during the pandemic. 

Those who fell ill with COVID-19 were entering a huge amount of data into chatbots, helping these AI systems learn about symptom patterns. Now, these chatbots have the potential to help overwhelmed medical teams in triaging patients and aiding diagnosis. 

The cloud

As work spaces closed and we retreated into our homes for lockdown, the cloud was a piece of technology that came into its own. Many businesses were able to continue working from home, as email, file sharing and video calls allowed us to collaborate and work together remotely. 

Social media has also helped us feel more connected in isolation. Although many of us have been physically distancing over recent months, we’ve been able to socialize online and keep in touch. 

Tech in your organization

When it comes to managing a pandemic within the workplace, there are a number of pieces of technology that claim to be able to help protect your workforce. But is it all useful?

Tech to consider

People presence software 

Visitors, employees, service providers, volunteers… By signing everyone in as they come on-site, you’ll be able to quickly and easily report on who has come into contact with who should someone in your organization become ill. People presence solutions are widely regarded as more robust solutions to other ‘contact tracing’ apps we’ve seen popping up of late.

Physical distancing detection

Silicon Valley-based AI company Landing AI has developed technology that works with security cameras to detect if people are keeping a safe physical distance from each other. This data could then be used to understand where workplace layout changes might be required to allow employees more space. 

In a similar vein, car manufacturers Ford are trialling wristbands that buzz if a colleague gets too close.

Technology to be cautious of

Contact tracing apps

Contact tracing apps are all over the news, and new providers are popping up almost overnight. However, without a proven track record around information security, enterprise organizations should be cautious of using these platforms.  

Air quality solutions

The concept of monitoring indoor air quality isn’t a new one, but it’s something that could be top-of-mind for facilities and operations managers post COVID-19. 

While improved air quality has many benefits, there is little evidence to suggest air purifiers can help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Although some purifiers might be strong enough to kill a small number of air borne viral particles, coronavirus is primarily spread by person-to-person contact, or contact with contaminated surfaces. 

UV sanitizers

There are a number of UV light sanitizers on the market, claiming to effectively kill viruses and sanitize your gadgets. However, only the strongest, most aggressive rays (UVC) are capable of killing coronavirus, and to use UVC safely, you need specialist equipment and training. This cleaning method is best left to the experts. 

New to WhosOnLocation? 

Take a free 30 day trial today. 

3 minutes read time

Feature Highlight – Using your Panic Alarm for onsite safety

As we return to our workplaces, we are are all faced with new challenges. Be it social distancing, an increase in hygiene measures, or contact tracing. One thing is certain – all workplaces will have a great focus on safety and security.

It’s a good time to re-assess the features you use within your WhosOnLocation subscription and look to activate those that could offer your organization a greater level of safety and security. One of these features is panic alarm (or sometimes referred to as a duress alarm). 

What is a panic alarm

A panic alarm is a discrete and silent way to raise an alarm with out aggravating a situation. Often used by the front of house/security team when they find themselves in an unsafe situation. 

Panic alarms need to be simple to use due to the stressful situations they are used in.  Users don’t have time to think through complicated steps, they need to take action.   

WhosOnLocation Panic Alarm

We first launched our Panic Alarm feature back in 2017. Designed as a simple and easy way for our customers to safeguard their organizations. Customers using the feature have activated it on average 15 times! 

Why should we use a panic alarm? 

Our top four reasons are:

  1. It’s like an insurance policy. You have it in place as a way to manage your risk. 
  2. Life can be uncertain so put the procedure in place to protect your organization in advance.  
  3. Gain peace of mind knowing your organization is safe and protected. 
  4. Help to manage your risk through the identification, accessing, and control threats to your organization. 

How does it work?

Once activated within your account, your front of house team have two ways to activate the panic alarm:

  1. From the Sign In/Out Manager
  2. Tapping the kiosk three times 

Once activated your nominated responders will receive an alert when your Panic Alarm is activated. Responder alerts can be sent via email or SMS to:

  • Multiple people within your organization
  • To security contractors
  • Other 3rd parties

Don’t forget to test your Panic Alarm

We recommend testing your panic alarm on a regular basis. Testing will ensure responders are aware of the alerts, are receiving them, and know how to follow your internal procedures. Ensure when a panic alarm is activated in a real emergency everyone can act fast. 

Getting started with Panic Alarm

Follow the step-by-step instructions in the help center to set up. If you are not already a customer click here to take a free 30-day trial. 

 

5 minutes read time

Policies and procedures: How to adapt to COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work indefinitely. The fast-moving developments of this virus mean that businesses and employers must remain diligent with up to date policies and procedures as we make it through this unusual and difficult time. 

Following the outbreak, federal agencies published new and revised guidance that address employers’ obligations to protect the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have published COVID-19 guidance that helps employers focus their response efforts on developing and implementing effective COVID-19 safety policies and procedures.

Should you change your policies and procedures?

Every business carries different risks, which is why you will have your own policies and procedures, relevant to your industry and worksite. These policies and procedures are in place to ensure the safety of your visitors, service providers, and employees at your worksites. As COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, which is easily spread primarily through droplets generated by sneezing, coughing, or even talking, businesses have to adjust their policies and procedures so they don’t spread the disease within their workplace. 

Not surprisingly, no case law or OSHA administrative decisions have been issued. What an employer’s legal obligations or duty of care that an employer owes its employees to protect them from COVID-19 in the workplace is not yet established. However, it is still the employer’s responsibility to keep those in their duty of care safe and to not put their employees at risk.

Every industry has unique policies and procedures they adhere to. While these are unique we do know that some of the most simple processes are often overlooked. Many of these processes could be formalized by using electronic visitor management. As we move out of COVID-19 it is more apparent than ever that a visitor management system is the only way to do this successfully. Learn how WhosOnLocation can help you.

Sign in 

The normal procedure of signing in our visitors or carrying out our inductions will need to be changed. Businesses need to keep out potential risks that could be entering their workplace. To ensure potential risks don’t come or gain access to your workplace implement a policy to only allow pre-registered visitors to enter.  Pre-registration notifies visitors of your policies in advance. They are sent an email (we call this a WolPass) detailing any essential information e.g. “If you’ve experienced flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days, please reschedule your visit.” 

This allows your visitors to read and digest the information fully before coming anywhere near your place of work. If they are in good health, when they come on-site they can simply scan the QR code in their WolPass using the external scanner at the kiosk to sign-in/out. No touch, no risk of infection transfer. A quick, safe, and seamless visitor sign in/out experience while meeting your onsite policies and procedures.

Contact tracing

Now more than ever, every single person that enters your worksite must sign-in. No one should be allowed on-site if they have not. This is more than likely already a policy at your worksite but using WhosOnLocation you can quickly report and identify who was on-site at what time, therefore making it easy to contact anyone who may have come into contact with an infected person. 

Physical distancing

Physical distancing has been a difficult adjustment in society as we are used to greeting with a hug or a handshake and no limitation on the number of people we can be with at one time.  A habit is a difficult thing to change but plenty of reminders throughout the day and a limit on the number of people who can enter your workplace is a good place to start. 

WhosOnLocation prevents overcrowding, with maximum occupancy limits. Set your limit and when the maximum is reached, any further attempts to sign in will fail and the appropriate person/s will be notified. 

You can also use zoning to minimize exposure within your worksite. Assign your employees and service providers to a ‘zone’ so that you can contain a possible outbreak by easily identifying who’s been in contact with who. To remind your employees of your physical distancing policies you can set recurring best practice reminders to help your employees remember to follow your policies and procedures. 

Deliveries

Many workplaces receive multiple deliveries daily. Since the outbreak delivery drivers have been doing what they can to contain the spread by wearing gloves or wiping down the parcel when delivered.  However, to ensure your workplace is protected you could make it a policy that when parcels are delivered, to reduce handling the delivery driver signs the package in on your kiosk with the recipient getting notified they have a parcel for collection. Add to your notification a reminder message to “wipe down your delivery with the disinfectant wipes” to reduce any chance of infection transfer. 

Change is always difficult when you’ve done things a certain way for so long. However, we have no choice but to adjust the way we do things to keep those in our duty of care safe. Implementing your new policies and procedures with WhosOnLocation will help make your life easier during this difficult and challenging time.

 

6 minutes read time

How to get back to work safely with WhosOnLocation

Long surpassing the rest of the world, the US has taken a huge hit from Covid-19, with 1,680,000 confirmed cases and 98,000 deaths. However, it is critical for businesses to start returning to work, to protect the economy and employee incomes. So how do people feel about heading back to work and do they feel safe?

As a general consensus, people are feeling anxious about heading back to work but don’t feel as though they have a choice. A US study shows that employees expect their employers to keep them safe at work. 69% say they trust their companies leadership to make the best decision on when employees should return to work but they also expect additional safety measures:

  • 74% want their work facility to be thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected
  • 62% want strict policies about who cannot come into their workplace, like those who are sick or have recently traveled
  • 45% ask for a “no handshakes/no hugs” policy 
  • 61% want to maintain social distancing
  • 49% want to be able to limit the number of people they’re exposed to in workplace meetings

What is clear from the results is that in order for people to feel safe and comfortable at work, everyone has to participate and do their part. 

The good news – it is possible to meet these demands with strict protocols by utilizing user-friendly technology to help you enforce them. Here at WhosOnLocation, we’ve got a number of tools that can help your workplace manage the transition back to work and beyond efficiently and safely.

Steps employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19

OSHA had developed a series of guidelines to assist employers with keeping their organization safe as they return post lockdown, these are: 

  • Develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan
  • Prepare to implement basic infection prevention measures
  • Develop policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of sick people, if appropriate
  • Develop, implement, and communicate about workplace flexibilities and protections
  • Implement workplace controls

Read the full OSHA guidelines here.

How WhosOnLocation can help

To adhere to the OSHA guidelines and ensure your workplace is a safe environment, everyone has to work together and be accountable. WhosOnLocation has the necessary tools that will help you achieve this and give you the confidence that your workplace is doing everything possible to keep everyone safe. Read below to find out exactly how we can help your workplace:

Screen and trace everyone on-site

Visitors, employees, service providers, volunteers… with so many people passing through your facility each day, it’s crucial to keep a record of who is on (or off) site.

Contact tracing

Ensure everyone signs in as they come on-site to quickly and easily report and identify who has come into contact with an affected individual. 

Zoning

Use zoning to minimize exposure. Physically distance employees and service providers in groups, assigning each group to a ‘zone’. This will help you easily identify who has been in contact with an affected person in their zone and understand which areas of the facility may require further cleaning.

Pandemic screening

To keep infection out of your workplace ask a series of screening questions as part of the sign in process. Screen everyone coming on-site with questions to determine anything from ‘Have you experienced flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days?” to “Have you recently returned from overseas?.” This will ensure you can limit access to anyone who answers yes to your screening questions and reduce exposure risks to your workplace.  

Touchless sign in/out 

Viruses and respiratory infections can be facilitated through contact with objects which have been touched by infected people. If you remove the need to touch anything at sign-in this will ensure you can maintain hygiene standards, limit guest numbers, and employee interaction with your kiosk, and the potential risk of sharing infection on its surface. This will create a safe sign in/out process. 

Employees and service providers

WolMobile delivers a touchless sign-in/out option; ensuring a seamless entry and exit experience without the need for employees or service providers to interact with the kiosk. They can either sign in on their own smartphone with WolMobile or they can even use the auto sign-in/out feature to update their on-site status based on their smartphone’s geolocation – how’s that for touchless? 

Visitors

Pre-registered visitors can simply scan the QR code in their WolPass using the external scanner at the kiosk to sign in/out. No touch, no risk of infection transfer. A quick, safe, and seamless visitor sign in/out process. 

Communicate your policies 

Welcome screen

Utilize the banner and welcome screen on your kiosk to remind and communicate your policies to everyone coming on-site e.g. “All visitors must use hand sanitizer before entering.” 

WolPass

Notify visitors of your policies in advance. Pre-register visitors and send a WolPass email detailing any essential information e.g. “If you’ve experienced flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days, please reschedule your visit.” This allows your visitors to read and digest the information fully before coming anywhere near your place of work. 

Acknowledgment notices

Ask everyone entering your facility to agree to your policies using acknowledgment notices. If someone doesn’t acknowledge a notice they won’t be able to sign in and the appropriate people can be notified. 

Receive alerts

Notify the right people if someone attempts to sign in outside of your policy.

Maintain physical distance

Set maximum occupancy rules 

Prevent overcrowding and limit the number of people permitted on-site by setting a maximum occupancy. When the maximum is reached, any further attempts to sign in will fail and the appropriate person/s will be notified. 

Service provider ban

Setting a service provider to banned, rather than removing them from your account, allows you to track if they try to sign in at any of your locations, and prevent employees from setting them up again. This will help keep out unnecessary people and potential risks.

Now more than ever, keeping everyone in your duty of care safe is your highest priority. The ongoing pandemic has made us change the way we live, work, and play. With the right tools, WhosOnLocation helps you keep those in your duty of care safe and secure.