Engineering company, Laing O'Rourke, is piloting Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor and analyse field workers' health, as they often work in rough physical conditions.
The company's device
engineering leader, Rod Shepherd, spoke about different components of
the technology at a Microsoft Ignite media event today.
Microsoft's Internet of Things Suite on the Azure cloud, Laing
O'Rourke is constantly collecting, processing and analysing all of
its field workers' body temperature, heart rate, ambient temperature and humidity, body movements, location and the like.
The data is collected through a sensor strip that runs along a worker's forehead,
attached inside their hardhat, as well as sensors outside of the hat
to pick up on the environmental surroundings.
The data gets
delivered to a dashboard where it is visualised, so that users can
pick up on anomalies or unusual patterns or metrics that indicate a
potential problem with a worker's health such as sudden elevated
heart rate or body temperature.
SMS/mobile and email
alerts can also be sent to a worker's supervisor when their heart
rate or temperature goes above a certain threshold, for example, and
the worker's hardhat also vibrates or makes noise to alert the worker
that there's a potential problem with their health.
Sheppard said health
hazards are more likely to happen in hot climates, where workers'
overheat, and it's often the case that workers won't realise it's a
major problem until they are vomiting or it's too late.
He also wants to
delve more into predictive modelling, to have a machine tell
beforehand if a major health issue is to occur with a worker,
allowing supervisors to intervene early and prevent it from
The data coming from
the sensors is transmitted every five seconds, with a status kept on
every device to see if it is no longer connected.
Users can also query
the data from the dashboard using free text search, eliminating any
technical barrier to being able to analyse the data.
partnered with MOQdigital, a company specialising in business
transformation, to help implement the technology through Azure IoT
A ZigBee wireless
mesh is used for connectivity, along with an industrial router for
remote access to the data. MOQdigitial provided software on a CPU stick that
stores and forwards data so that when 3G connectivity drops out, the
data is retained and then sent through once connectivity comes back
It also enables alerts to be automatically sent when certain thresholds are crossed in the data or anomalies take place, as well as bi-directional communication.
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