Craig Swallow, Managing Director of SoloProtect Limited, discusses lone worker safety and whether body worn video systems are the future of lone worker devices.

It’s always important to consider your personal safety and to be vigilant when you’re working alone. Situations can arise and unforeseen circumstances can have serious consequences. Considering personal safety becomes especially important when you’re in charge of a workforce and you have a moral and legal obligation towards your employees. It’s the responsibility of all employers to provide a safe working environment for their workforce, including those working alone. Put plainly, this means you, as an employer, should do everything in your power to ensure your employees have the necessary tools to allow them to respond correctly to emergencies.
Currently, this involves appropriate training, thorough risk assessments, a comprehensive lone worker policy and a lone worker solution. There are a great number, and variety, of lone worker solutions available; ranging from lone worker devices to mobile phone applications. However, as in all walks of life, advances in technology, and adjustments to legislation, mean these solutions must also adapt.

Body Worn Video systems (BWV) are one of those technologies, which have seemingly been deployed in volume within a very short time frame and without much fuss. In fact, to date around 600,000 BWV devices have been deployed; the majority in the USA, approximately 75,000 in the UK and many tens of thousands throughout European markets. Over the course of the next 5 years, analysts predict that deployed volumes will rise to almost 3m devices.

While many lone worker devices currently capture live audio, which can be used for future use, (admissible evidence in court proceedings etc.), it’s clear a live video stream will give a solution provider a clearer picture, allowing for a faster emergency response, (if necessary), and prove more helpful, should it eventually be used as admissible evidence. Therefore, BWV seems like the logical next step for lone worker devices.

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are many implications with the recording and storage of video data. Protecting and appropriately using this data is very important, and with the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that will come into effect in May 2018, it becomes even more important.  GDPR will generate a significant rise in the cost of poor data protection practices with fines of up to 4% of domestic gross revenue being applied by European courts. Therefore, how you’re using, and storing, your data will come under sever scrutiny.

Such was the concern about poor data protection for the UK Home Office, Information Commissioners Office and Metropolitan Police, that a new standard was launched; BS 8593. I was fortunate enough to be asked to sit on the drafting committee for this important standard and have learnt first-hand how serious the UK authorities are about making sure that all employers seeking to deploy BWV follow the guidance laid out.

At the core of BS 8593 is an implicit understanding that there are four different deployment scenarios, any one of which might be appropriate to an organisation seeking to deploy BWV. Each scenario considers how a BWV device shares and stores its data.

Capturing evidence from BWV devices deployed on staff, especially those working alone and/or out in the community, brings with it many other unique challenges. What if audio is recorded? What if other, non-incident related persons are captured in the video? Is a recording allowed if it happens in someone’s home or a private property? These, and many other questions will start to arise as more and more deployment scenarios occur.

I believe that BWV systems that stream evidence are a positive step and are very likely to become the standard in the coming 3-5 years. With stronger legislation, and GDPR, employers must consider how they use improved technologies like BWV to ensure they’re meeting their duty of care. Companies like SoloProtect, who can see this vision, are investing now in their ARCs, processes and personnel to ensure they are better placed to assist their customers in making sure that video data is safe. Equally as important, they are working to ensure that escalation to an incident where a BWV user’s personal safety is at risk, is the fastest and most effective possible.

Craig Swallow, Managing Director of SoloProtect Limited