We recently had the opportunity to work on a new project for a local Alberta company called "Arms Reach Monitoring Service" or just ARMS for short.
ARMS had a great idea, one that would affect just about anyone in any business or industry.
They had a diverse team of individuals who work in various sectors but they had one common thread tying them together, they all at one point or another worked alone, and all saw the need for a more efficient way to protect themselves and their employees when working alone on a job that could be potentially dangerous.
Lone Worker Safety has been a hot topic of late. Technology has advanced certain industries in a way that creates a lot more single person jobs or projects that in the past, required two, or more workers in a crew.
The problem is that when you are working alone, if you have an accident or emergency situation it can become very hard to notify the proper authority for help as you might be incapacitated in some fashion.
Many options for this issue have cropped up over the years, but they are outdated and lacking. Many large companies have a two hour check in policy in place for their staff requiring them to take approximately 10mins out of their day every two hours to call into an answering service, often waiting several minutes on hold, and then giving their approximate location to the answering service in case they have a problem before the next check in.
This process is slow, time consuming, and the frustration factor means staff often don't even use the service at all!!
The team at ARMS had a visionary idea. Let's incorporate existing technology such as answering services and call in systems into some new high tech wizardry to create a very simple and efficient way to check in at regular intervals.
The ARMS App was born.
Over the next year they began working on developing an entire platform for this goal. Early on the development team decided that this had to be extremely stable and infinitely scalable as the project grew. They looked into the benefits of a partnership with Google, using the Google AppEngine platform (the same system that runs YouTube) to run the servers necessary for the ARMS platform. Development progressed on the ARMS dashboard, and new ideas and features flowed, such as real time mapping, and management notifications.
The system had to be simple, REALLY simple. In fact the user only has ONE big button to press! It had to be easy and fast enough for 100% of the work force to adopt it.
That is not to say that ARMS was easy to create. Months of testing and development resulted in more and more "edge cases".
"We were in relatively uncharted waters. We were integrating GPS telemetry, location services, and navigating the real world issue that not every sq ft of the world has cellular service coverage too" says Brad Peake, a partner in the project.
There was a real difference between testing this app and server platform in an office with perfect reception and taking it out into rural Alberta and missing a check in when you are down to "one bar" of cell coverage.
GPS telemetry was also a huge undertaking. It seemed so simple that we would just grab a GPS plot and send that up to the server, but that became many months of testing and improving the results. We found that taking constant reading on the GPS killed battery life extremely fast, but taking just one single reading resulted often in data that was old or cached in the phones operating system, or not nearly precise enough to be effective in an emergency situation.
In the end we have come up with some truly remarkable programming wizardry from our app design team that gives us very very accurate locations on our active users without the sacrifice of battery life. These are just a few examples of what sets ARMS apart from anything else on the market today.
In the end, we now have a platform that is scalable into the millions of users, that's very easy to use, and takes about 5 seconds to operate during a required check in.
Privacy was also a major factor, and planning around this came about early on. Many employees nowadays use their own personal devices for work. They don't want to be tracked by their employer when they don't need to be. With this in mind we ensured that when the ARMS app is disabled, no user data is tracked or stored. The employee has the ability to enable or disable ARMS when they have a need for it making the privacy issue a mute point for most.
So what is ARMS? It's a simple to use app that, when enabled or activated, requires you to check in at regular intervals by pressing a single button on the app. Every few seconds your precise location is transmitted to the ARMS server and a manager or coworker can locate you on a Google Maps interface. In the event that you cannot check in, an alarm plays to remind you, and after a few minutes if you still don't respond. a live person will call you to see if you are OK.
If you're not, they will alert your manager, Emergency Contact Person (ERP contact) or even 911 services. The live answering service also has up to the second live data on the location of the missing user so pin pointing their precise whereabouts for emergency services is fast and efficient, and could truly mean the difference between saving a life and a horrible tragedy.
Who needs ARMS?
Anyone who works alone or lives alone and has the potential for being in some sort of danger. It's the app equivalent of a big brother or bodyguard watching out for you whenever you need it.
For more information or to trial the system out visit www.armsapp.com