The Next Mobile Frontier: Context

From construction to energy to manufacturing and more, a priority in many of the industries that surround us is a strong focus on Health, Safety and Environment (HSE). HSE is important for many reasons and all organizations have a duty to ensure that their employees remain safe at all times. The recent emergence of mobile devices has created an opportunity to make HSE programs far more effective.

Using contextual information, mobile devices can take a load off the shoulders of employees; by automatically noting where you are and what you are doing, they can give you what you need when you need it. Workers from any industry can take these mobile devices, equipped with an impressive array of onboard sensors, everywhere they go. This rich collection of information can then be used to make employees more efficient and help them to make more informed workplace decisions.

To demonstrate this, DevFacto built an app to highlight how mobility can marry devices and context to provide value in HSE practices. We took this demonstration to C-level managers from the Energy sector to showcase how we see mobility changing the enterprise. In this example, the app provides an easy way to efficiently complete safety inspections for various pieces of equipment.

When opened, the app shows a list of on-site equipment that requires regular safety inspections. Once the user selects the piece of equipment that they are going to inspect, a checklist of inspection points on the equipment populates from the cloud. The user works their way through the checklist and submits the results for immediate processing across the business. The app also facilitates offline use and optimally synchronizes as connectivity changes.

While helpful, this example isn’t particularly interesting until we add context and intelligence. If the user holds up their device to a piece of equipment, the app uses advanced image recognition to show the equipment’s specific checklist. By pointing the phone at a crane for example, the app overlays information for that crane. In this way, the phone uses contextual information to aid the user and avoid text entry or tedious navigation.

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The benefits of contextual mobility in the enterprise are manifold. By automating the reporting process, mobile apps ensure that the pre-determined HSE process is carried out accurately and completely. While the examples of manual selection and photo recognition are fairly simple, mobile technology can be used to automate other HSE processes. For example, mobile device technology could utilize geo-location or time-of-day to trigger checklists and generate reports. Tablets and smart-glasses can use augmented reality to overlay and annotate a live-view of equipment with real-time data about potential issues, inspection requirements, and visualization of how it works.

The possibilities that contextual mobile technology holds for training, inspections, and other functions related to HSE are vast. By improving efficiency, accuracy, availability of data and more, contextual mobility is sure to assist HSE professionals keep their workplaces and employees safe.