How AI Can Guide Us to Safety in a Post-Pandemic World?
The global pandemic threw the world for a loop, and businesses shut down seemingly overnight, schools closed and working from home became the new normal. Phrases like “social distancing” and “self-quarantine” became part of our everyday nomenclature and safety measures such as temperature checks and mask wearing were integrated into daily life. It’s hard to imagine reopening of businesses and gathering places without these new standards present.
From a business standpoint, reopening still poses many concerns and uncertainty. How can businesses keep employees safe, remain compliant with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and avoid liability while still maintaining a sustainable level of profitability? From an employee standpoint, while many workers are eager to return to full-time hours and consistent paychecks, they are scared to return to an environment that increases their exposure to COVID-19. They may have questions about proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing, and they also face new responsibilities that are not traditional to their position.
Artificial intelligence will play a major role in this, as we try to move to a post-pandemic world, especially as it pertains to tracking people’s health and wellbeing in public areas.
Employers will tap technology solutions to help them face challenges such as adhering to new rules and regulations, enforcing and monitoring compliance and ensuring employee morale remains positive Confidence or trust that they are safe as possible? Today’s new reality will rely on technology more than ever, and this trend will only continue to grow as we settle into the new normal. From monitoring individuals to helping ease customer flow, technology -and specifically artificial intelligence Cognitive AI will be critical.
Why Cognitive AI?
Artificial Intelligence is a powerful technology tool that allows for multiple tasks to take place at once, faster and more efficiently than humanly possible. As society starts planning the reopening of offices, shared spaces and customer-facing businesses, how can we ensure the safety of workers and the community at large? One option is to hire or assign employees to policing practices such as temperature taking and mask wearing and social distancing enforcement. Depending on the size of the business, this could take a great number of people. It would most likely involve a two-pronged approach, with employees on the ground as well as employees monitoring the situation from screens. There could potentially be large room for human error here as well. It’s difficult to monitor a large group of people to make sure they are adhering to the CDC guidelines.
The Problem For Operators Of Complex Scenes, Is That Human Attention Span Is Very Low, And The Brain Has Limited Capabilities To Detect Critical Situations
The new guideliens also places a substantial mental burden on staff as the average human attention span is as low as about 8.25 seconds according to some research, and we are easily distracted by emails and phone notifications. A study (Green, 1999) found that after 20 minutes, guards watching a video scene will miss up to 95 percent of all activity.
A technology solution is the clear answer in this case. Cognitive computing systems such as neural networks are a specific type of AI that simulates human thought. This type of AI is used in autonomous cars and is also a good structure to build post-pandemic monitoring systems. Cognitive computing can learn to digest information in different contexts. For example, if a family walks into a store together, the system will learn that they do not need to practice social distancing within the group and therefore, will not be violating the rules of social distancing. (or people simply passing each other)
Not only is AI more reliable than humans at tracking multiple data points at one time, this type of monitoring will reduce liability exposure. Not being compliant is a big issue. Online shopping giant Amazon is being sued - like may other major corporations - by workers for not enforcing (some say actually discouraging) social distancing measures, and being careless with contact tracing efforts. Had the company had a technology solution such as AI monitoring in place, they could have first made sure that such measures were being properly enforced and second had proof to show that they made their best effort to ensure the safety of their workers.
AI in the Workforce
Remote working was the instant solution for many businesses when the pandemic escalated. While some businesses are fully back in office, and adhering to mandated expectations for employee safety, others remain remote or are utilizing strategic and flexible work schedules. Nonetheless, many individuals will find that working from home may be a long-term solution that will entail heavy reliance on technology. For those going into office settings, a host of safety measures need to be implemented, but can pose a myriad of difficulties to ensure compliance and can create massive liability issues.
A Cognitve AI solution can help with monitoring body temperatures, ensuring employees are social distancing and even confirming that masks are being worn consistently throughout the day.
What happens if you have large groups of workers that need to come in at the same time, such as a morning shift of workers who all start the day at 8 a.m.? Without a technology solution, workers will need to queue up to have their temperature taken and mask check confirmed in a long line where people slowly enter, creating lags and dissatisfaction. What about after they are past the check point? How do you ensure they still have their mask on (or develop a fever) throughout the workday?
With the most advanced cognitive AI solutions, large groups can stream in conveniently and temperatures and masks can be screened and confirmed throughout the day. This would free up your front office staff from having to manually attempt a fraction of what today’s computing power can achieve, keeping employees doing what they do best, rather than enforcing rules.
The post-pandemic workplace will be made of more controlled environments including more managed daily interactions, reserving time for specific activities, rotating people in and out of smaller spaces and flexible workspaces where employees can come and go as needed as opposed to each employee having a dedicated space. As the COVID-19 situation fluctuates, so will the guidelines that need monitoring. AI systems can quickly and easily be programed to shift with the loosening or tightening of guidelines, allowing for flexibility in the system.
AI Monitoring and Privacy
With all of these technological implementations, employees and customers alike may be concerned about privacy. Advanced AI biometrics solutions have the ability understand patterns of behavior by only handling metadata and not correlate personal data, but making people into avatars. That way only critical situations and other rules are unamiously being monitored, which will ensure the privacy of individuals. Unlike some of the massive video surveillance data being collected and stored for months, this type of monitoring does not entail identity information such as names or images. Moreover, data through this type of platform will only be stored locally, not via a cloud system that someone can more easily hack into or breach. This will reduce the risk of bad actors intruding in the system since access would need to be through the local database.
The Solution is Here
Cognitive AI-enabled technology solutions will help lead to a better future. The change is already here, and the landscape will most likely continue to shift abruptly as we adapt to the post-pandemic world and learn more about how COVID-19 spreads. Customers, businesses and employees will all experience concern during phased reopening, but there are ways to guarantee the safety of individuals in minimally intrusive way thanks to AI, neural networks and other technological advancements. AI technology solutions will allow us to advance and resume some semblance of normal activity, all while managing compliance, ensuring profitability and mitigating liability.
About Cognize, the premier situational awareness platform that integrates AI multi-sensor fusion data with cognitive learning to give operators of large, complex places the critical context and recommendations they need to predict events, mitigate risk and optimize processes. Through Cognize’s innovative solutions, brands can create smarter and safer spaces that benefit individuals, businesses and society. Discover more at www.cognize.live, or connect with Cognize on LinkedIn and Twitter.