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Vodacom readies IOT back-to-work protocols

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 19 May 2020

Vodacom is offering multiple Internet of things (IOT) solutions targeting businesses as they re-open after weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown.

As more people return to work under relaxed COVID-19 regulations, the spotlight has shifted to safety in the workplace and Vodacom says it has the IOT solution to help comply with safety requirements.

“As many businesses start planning a return to work after lockdown, we must ensure we all play our part in limiting the spread of COVID-19. We want to support businesses by providing the tools necessary to not only improve health and safety, but also to comply with guidelines and regulations that have been set by the Presidency,” says Peter Malebye, managing executive for IOT at Vodacom Business.

The telco says technology can play a critical role in helping businesses implement these back-to-work protocols through the use of IOT, artificial intelligence and analytics.

It says these solutions are designed to augment organisations’ existing screening processes and be guided by the analytics. They are delivered as a platform that can easily be integrated into existing infrastructure.

Malebye explains: “These solutions have been designed to support the wide range of industries on the frontline of the nation’s fight against the current pandemic, as well as those looking to prepare for when current restrictions are eased. To enable use in different situations, the technology has been developed in different tiers to make it easily accessible and can be scaled as and when required.”

Thermal cameras are among the items being offered by Vodacom. One of the primary symptoms consistent with COVID-19 is an elevated body temperature and Vodacom says the use of thermal imaging cameras, previously applied in the manufacturing industries, can be applied to detect persons with raised body temperatures if required by an organisation’s screening process.

It says the Vodacom Business Thermal Scanner can be used to monitor employees or customers’ body temperature from a safe distance as they enter a specific area or building.

“Artificial intelligence and analytics will then measure the employee or customer’s temperature and in the event it is elevated, generate a notification for further screening protocols in accordance with their specific health, safety and environment (HSE) guidelines.”

It notes the technology provides thermal measurements which are non-invasive for those being monitored and produce objective, instant results to guide HSE personnel.

Vodacom is also touting its social distancing monitoring technology. The telco says using an existing camera feed and artificial intelligence capabilities, it provides a platform to monitor people within an area and report back on distances between them, while also counting the number of people who enter or leave an area.

“The monitoring and tracking of distance between people is critical to ensure businesses remain compliant to the regulatory and governance polices put in place.”

Lastly, the telco offers Vodacom personal protective equipment (PPE) monitoring, an IOT solution that utilises existing camera feeds and visual analytics to identify individuals that are not using PPE, more specifically – facemasks.

“This can be integrated into workflows or any external orchestration layer and gives businesses the ability to effectively identify and respond to their HSE protocols,” says Vodacom.

The company says the installation of these technologies at the entrances of public institutions such as hospitals and clinics, and commercial establishments like corporate offices, shops and retail outlets will play a role in curbing the spread of the virus.