Lone worker safety app codesigned by farmers

A lone worker safety app codesigned by farmers and engineers will soon be available to download on google play store. Dr Tom McNamara explains how the technology came out of the IKnowFood field lab and how it could save lives.

One of the areas of interest identified during the field lab between the Buccleuch Estate and the IKnowFood research team was Lone worker safety. Previously the estate had tried using lone worker safety solutions from other sectors and areas. As these weren’t specifically tailored for the sector however, these external solutions weren’t effective at increasing the safety of staff working alone. To bridge this gap and increase the safety of staff, we jointly created an app that monitors its user and raises an alarm if they come to harm whilst working alone.

Scroll down for an opportunity to test the beta version of this app.

How it works

Once installed, the app monitors the user’s movement in terms of motion rather than geographical location and if the users remains motionless for too long a prompt is shown on the user’s phone. If the user does not respond to this prompt an alert is sent to all other phones on the farm with the app installed in addition to sending a text notification to a user set number. This ensures that even if the user is unconscious, others will be made aware of their situation and know that they are potentially at risk within minutes rather than hours of the event occurring. The alarm can also be triggered manually within the app, raising the same alarm and notifying others of the situation.

Safety technology tailored by farmers 

Whilst this app can be used anywhere on a farm, its key focus was for staff working with livestock in sheds and barns. This was because existing solutions were typically designed for outdoor use and as such, relied on GPS technology. Inside barns and sheds, there is little GPS signal meaning that these solutions were often unable to locate a user when the alarm was raised, which is critical information for those trying to help.

Our app uses the presence of a WIFI signal to identify that the user is working in a shed or an area of increased risk. When the app detects this signal, it automatically starts to monitor the user’s motion. If the user is stationary for too long and fails to respond to a prompt by the phone, the alert is sent out. This notification includes the user’s rough location based upon the WIFI the phone connected to. When the user goes out of range of the shed or area, the app automatically stops monitoring, stopping false alarms being raised by the phone being on charge or the user resting back in their home. This allows staff to be automatically safeguarded when working alone in sheds. Once setup, little if any user input is required.

The settings for how sensitive the motion detection is, how long the user must remain stationary to trigger the system and where the phone is kept on a user are all customisable to ensure that the app accommodates everyone’s working habits and practices.

App soon to be downloadable from google

The app runs on Android phones and will soon be able to be installed from the Play Store. To enable automatic monitoring in sheds and areas of increased risk, a WIFI signal is required. Routers that can provide this signal can be bought and installed for less than many other lone working solutions. For using all other features of the app such as on body movement detection, the automatic sending of alerts, manual alerts, etc, no existing infrastructure is required and there is no subscription or cost.

Opportunity to be involved in beta testing

Tom is currently looking for farmers to test the app before it gets released more widely. This will involve receiving an email with a link to install the app and simply using it on your phones to make sure that the app is working as expected.

If you are interested in getting involved with this email info@innovativefarmers.org for more information. 

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