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How IT is helping make the workplace safe from COVID-19

Many of us wish we could install an upgrade and be done with this version of 2020 for good. Of course, there’s no magic wand that will allow us to go back to the office, chat at the coffee machine, and take a client to lunch. But technology comes close.

“We’ve created all kinds of technology using automation, and artificial intelligence, and facial recognition to bring more safety and more security to the workplace, whatever that workplace might be,” said Eric Clark (pictured), chief digital officer at NTT Data Systems.

Clark spoke with Stu Miniman, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. They discussed how NTT Data is helping its customers handle the switch to working remotely. (* Disclosure below.)

Smart surveillance enables track and trace in the workplace

NTT Data is a full-suite provider with a focus on digital operations. This means the company guides clients throughout their cloud journey, from digitizing workplace services to helping identify what workloads need to be in the cloud and what doesn’t. Client (and employee) experience is a big factor.

“We think that our customers should not expect to have different interfaces and different portals and different user experiences when they work with us across infrastructure, application and cloud,” Clark said.

Helping its clients adjust to working remotely seamlessly and safely was “a big challenge,” according to Clark. But a bigger problem was presented by customers that didn’t have the luxury of sending employees to work from home.

“When you think about manufacturing facilities and different hospitality companies, there are people that need to go into physical places. We do a lot in the healthcare space. We need doctors in the hospitals,” he said.

So NTT set out to do what it could to make the workplace safer through technology.

Taking “track and trace” to a new level, the company installed smart cameras to make sure employees were wearing masks and social distancing. “We can have very strict controls and adherence to whatever the protocols may be as the protocols change,” Clark stated.

Violations of these protocols trigger instant notifications to the employee’s phone, and repeat offenders are barred from going to work. If someone does test positive for COVID, “we will know exactly who they’ve been within six feet of without a mask over the past X number of days,” Clark said. “All of that is stored in the cloud for us to use for reference and use for audit purposes.”

If this all seems a bit “big brother,” Clark emphasizes that it is an opt-in system. Employees must pre-register and consent to being monitored as a condition of returning to a physical workplace.

“Those that don’t want to opt in to that kind of tracking and tracing won’t be those that will be allowed to come back to the office,” he said. “But those that feel like they’re more effective, more successful or have a need to be in an office or a need to be physically again in a manufacturing facility or a hotel, we have a way to do that safely.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. Neither NTT Research, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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