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Innovative Mobile Apps Support Agencies with Return-to-Work Protocols

As employees of government agencies gradually return to the workplace in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns, chances are they’ll find life in the office a bit different from what they left behind in March. Managers are developing staggered work schedules, creating stringent protocols for office cleaning and struggling with how to monitor and enforce social distancing. In some ways, the ‘new normal’ will be as dramatic a change as the sudden shift to mass teleworking was when many brick-and-mortar worksites shut down last spring.

Among the most significant changes will be the emphasis on a safe workplace environment. It’s always been a priority for agencies, but the concept has powerful new meaning as the pandemic persists. “We’re finding our customers in search of secure mobile solutions to keep employee safety at the forefront while also fiercely guarding their privacy,” said DMI CEO and Founder, Jay Sunny Bajaj

The state of Maryland even recently established a COVID-19 hotline that employees can use to report potential violations of the state’s mandatory restrictions. Within the workplace, mobile solutions to COVID-19 safety are much needed. Simply walking the halls to ensure social distancing and trying to contact trace with manual processes alone won’t work at-scale. 

Real-time Monitoring 

For agencies in search of an easy-to-implement means of protecting workplaces in the ‘new normal’, DMI recently launched an intuitive solution that does not require a large investment. DMI’s Workplace Shield is a secure mobile application that leverages an organization’s existing enterprise infrastructure and the mobile devices employees already use to deliver social distance monitoring, contact tracing and a reporting checklist to ensure that rooms are properly sanitized.

Adapted from DMI’s popular Mobile Inspection Platform, which is leveraged by several federal departments and large manufacturers, the platform provides two apps: One for Social Distancing and Contact Tracing, and another for Workplace Sanitization. Both apps integrate seamlessly into existing mobile device management (MDM) platforms and are available on Android and iOS devices.

In addition to drawing upon DMI’s deep expertise with its inspection platform, the solution was designed with the help of an infectious disease expert on staff at DMI. According to Dr. Ramyaa Ganesh, DMI associate vice president of artificial intelligence and a licensed healthcare informatics expert, “Enterprises that invest in this secure, automated, mobile solution not only help protect and reassure their on-site workers and customers, they can also mitigate their own liability risk upon reopening.”

Specifically, DMI’s Workplace Shield is a customizable Social Distancing and Contact Tracing mobile app for keeping track of who’s been in contact with whom in the event of COVID-19 diagnoses within organizations. The app automatically defaults to the six-foot distance recommended by the CDC before issuing a vibrating or sound alert. Importantly, the app has a sliding scale that can be adjusted up or down depending on one’s job. 

“For example, a nurse fully-suited in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) might not want to be alerted every time someone comes within six feet of range. But another employee, such as someone with an underlying medical condition, may prefer a distance greater than six feet,” said Bajaj. “The app even sends alerts to someone who isn’t running the application. And it has a timing component that can be set from five seconds to 45 seconds, alerting only when a personal encounter exceeds the time limit. So, the app will not alert if someone merely walks by.”

Significantly, the app also is anonymous. Users are given a randomly generated six-digit code that doesn’t reveal the user’s identity, even on the backend of the system. When one user gets within the safety zone, a key is exchanged. That information is then fed into a database. In the event an employee tests positive for the COVID-19 virus, the system can then notify everyone who recently has been within that person’s safety zone.

Finally, DMI Workplace Shield is designed to ensure workplace cleanliness thanks to a mobile checklist that feeds into a real-time dashboard displaying the status of all rooms and physical spaces within a building, both currently and over a period of time. The app includes information about CDC guidelines and includes pre-opening checklists as well as daily, weekly and monthly sanitization checklists. Annotated pictures can be added on-the-go, and mandatory checks are enforced before cleaning can be continued elsewhere. This feature also allows for printing of time-stamped cleaning-completion reports, which provide a digital audit trail.

Future Flexibility

Returning to the workplace, just like the pandemic itself, involves uncertainty which will require agencies make adjustments on-the-fly as the situation unfolds. DMI Workplace Shield’s digital dashboard, featuring real-time data display, not only monitors workplace environs, it can also adjust to organizational COVID-19 protocols over time to accommodate for future phased reentry plans. 

From the front door, to the manufacturing floor, employers, facility managers, HR departments and many business functions will benefit from this proactive approach to the planning, reintegration, and ongoing management of workforce safety during the pandemic. To experience the app for yourself, DMI Workplace Shield is available for a 15-day complimentary trial period.

Sidebar

Government agencies, schools and other public organizations can draw from a variety of sources for guidance on reopening, including a phased plan from the Office of Management and Budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s framework for its own reopening as well as guidance to agencies for limiting exposure for contractors and visitors to the NIST campus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reopening guidance for public- and private-sector organizations. The General Services Administration also offers agencies a roadmap to reopening guidance, and the National Governors Association likewise offers guidance at the state level. All of those plans include instructions regarding social distancing and/or contact tracing, but they don’t say much about how to implement them efficiently.

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