Laing O'Rourke pilots IoT tech that monitors field workers' health

Laing O'Rourke pilots IoT tech that monitors field workers' health

Company is capturing data that suggest a worker may be experiencing a potential health problem to send an alert

Engineering company, Laing O'Rourke, is piloting Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor and analyse field workers' health, as they often work in rough physical conditions.

The company's device engineering leader, Rod Shepherd, spoke about different components of the technology at a Microsoft Ignite media event today.

Leveraging Microsoft's Internet of Things Suite on the Azure cloud, Laing O'Rourke is constantly collecting, processing and analysing all of its field workers' body temperature, heart rate, ambient temperature and humidity, body movements, location and the like.

The data is collected through a sensor strip that runs along a worker's forehead, attached inside their hardhat, as well as sensors outside of the hat to pick up on the environmental surroundings.

The data gets delivered to a dashboard where it is visualised, so that users can pick up on anomalies or unusual patterns or metrics that indicate a potential problem with a worker's health such as sudden elevated heart rate or body temperature.

SMS/mobile and email alerts can also be sent to a worker's supervisor when their heart rate or temperature goes above a certain threshold, for example, and the worker's hardhat also vibrates or makes noise to alert the worker that there's a potential problem with their health.

Sheppard said health hazards are more likely to happen in hot climates, where workers' overheat, and it's often the case that workers won't realise it's a major problem until they are vomiting or it's too late.

He also wants to delve more into predictive modelling, to have a machine tell beforehand if a major health issue is to occur with a worker, allowing supervisors to intervene early and prevent it from happening.

The data coming from the sensors is transmitted every five seconds, with a status kept on every device to see if it is no longer connected.

Users can also query the data from the dashboard using free text search, eliminating any technical barrier to being able to analyse the data.

Laing O'Rourke partnered with MOQdigital, a company specialising in business transformation, to help implement the technology through Azure IoT Suite.

A ZigBee wireless mesh is used for connectivity, along with an industrial router for remote access to the data. MOQdigitial provided software on a CPU stick that stores and forwards data so that when 3G connectivity drops out, the data is retained and then sent through once connectivity comes back again.

It also enables alerts to be automatically sent when certain thresholds are crossed in the data or anomalies take place, as well as bi-directional communication.

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Tags Micorosoftfield workersInternet of Things (IoT)Laing O'Rourke

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