Yes. Eventually, we have to re-open businesses, schools and governments. But we must do so safely, and with constituent privacy at the core of any strategy. The question to answer is How?
- How do we create safe environments and comfortable, low-stress spaces for all?
- How do we rethink our perimeters to maintain social distancing, limit physical contact and enforce other preventative safety measures – with minimal disruption and cost?
- How can we leverage technology to create new hybrid environments that are both safe and productive while maintaining privacy?
At Kloudspot, I get to work with a variety of smart, thoughtful organizations and help them navigate the process of building a transformation strategy in this ‘Digital New Normal’.
So, what do I see? First, spaces and perimeters are changing. And their protocols and processes are adjusting accordingly so people using these spaces can adapt. Technology now plays an even more essential role in supporting the kind of organizational and behavioral change required – in ways we may never have imagined.
There are several common factors I see: five key considerations we’re recommending to our partners and customers to help them create actionable roadmaps for re-opening. I’d like to share these with anyone who is tasked with planning such a strategy:
1. Know your perimeters… and know who’s within them.
To create an environment and experiences that are safe and satisfying for constituents, you need to know who is on location at any given time. Additionally, you need to know where they are as effective safety measures must consider the unique needs of each environment across a range of activities.
The chart from McKinsey below illustrates this point. Depending on who is in your space, how many people are there, and the level of interaction/exposure they have to each other, your spaces pose varying levels of risk to be mitigated.
This is where today’s tech plays a pivotal – and somewhat miraculous – role. What once was in the realm of science fiction is now made real thanks to advanced sensors, cameras and connected devices. Data from these devices help us understand physical presence and with AI, can predict actions.
Most people today have three or more connected devices, such as smartphones, tablets and watches. And they typically carry or wear at least one of them at all times. These devices contain sensors and drop digital signals – or “breadcrumbs” – everywhere. So, understanding aspects of location, as well as contextual intelligence while maintaining security and privacy, becomes extremely important.
2. Understand and influence what people are doing
A recent article in Harvard Business Review explores the need for developing “path-breaking” strategies, creating and adjusting environments that reduce the likelihood of COVID transmission. This only becomes possible when we gain an understanding of the people, places and objects that your stakeholders come in contact with. This is especially critical for high-traffic, high-interaction industries like retail, healthcare, education and live events when these come back again.
Are people clustering in the breakroom? Is everyone wearing a mask? Does that conference room accommodate our upcoming in-person meeting? Have the restrooms been recently cleaned and sterilized? What stores in the mall enable social distancing right now?
We can now answer these questions using data collected from Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, environmental sensors and connected cameras, married with artificial intelligence (AI), to create digital mashups of what’s happening on site at any given moment and over time. With these insights, you can develop rules that trigger engagements in the physical world and translate them to the digital world. A simple example: Mask not detected? Here’s a mask! This is Situational Awareness, made possible by the Kloudspot platform.
3. Leverage the power of data to predict actions
If we could only read minds! Of course, we can’t – but we can use AI and machine learning technology to predict things like a person’s movement, intent and goals. This is how we can evolve our spaces and practices to break those transmission paths noted in the Harvard Business Review. And, we can use the data to create real-time interactions in the right places, at the right times, with the right people.
For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that gyms can re-open at 33% capacity. That’s great news for many who have been quarantined at home for months. But managing occupancy with traditional sign-in forms can be problematic. People are imperfect. Traditional gym sign-in forms are not necessarily private. So Situational Awareness technology can be used in this scenario to powerful effect.
Capturing data from various entry and exit points, measuring traffic through doorways and locker rooms, and comparing this to mandated policies and historical trends can inform actions that will keep people safe. Algorithms quickly compute and predict when and where overcrowding will likely occur so proactive steps can be outlined to avoid reaching mandated limits, such as tasking a manager to start closing or slowing certain entry points. Then, coordinating with ongoing exit data, the system can predict optimal reopening of the most appropriate entry points.
Exciting? I sure think so. We can also use this kind of predictive information to make experiences more personal and enriching. By analyzing current behavior, past visits, times of visit and other environmental factors, imagine how we could super serve people with recommendations and guidance to help them shop swiftly, safely and comfortably.
4. Take the right action
I love how Accenture describes reopening as “more than a restart.” Deloitte similarly suggests, “This is bigger than a store opening, it’s your grand reopening.” Organizations can seize this moment to rethink their experiences and processes for the better, not only to see themselves through the pandemic, but to create more satisfying and sustainable experiences for work, school or leisure.
It’s truly inspiring to see all of the innovative solutions our customers and partners are developing. From Smart City apps that protect citizens and offer targeted tourist experiences, to making theme parks safe for families to enjoy, to helping brick-and-mortar retailers bring shoppers back so they can hire staff, pay rent, and so much more.
5. Measure, learn and adapt
Leveraging technology has never been more critical to ensuring safety, privacy and a speedy recovery. But the real value is in the lessons we learn, and how quickly we can course correct and adjust. We ask our customers to reflect:
- Did you drive the interactions and outcomes you wanted?
- Are you seeing measurable improvements?
- Are you learning from past and current activities so you can apply insights to future activities?
- Are these insights now embedded in your organization’s DNA?
Walking through these five considerations with customers is a great exercise to help define a Digital New Normal roadmap so they can safely reopen and rebound. I’m proud that Kloudspot, and our Situational Awareness Platform, is able to help so many organizations in this journey.