Resuming work after the long hiatus caused due to the pandemic; employees will find an array of tech gadgets infused to improve workplace safety; which undoubtedly will present personal and medical privacy intrusions. Regular temperature surveillance, distance monitors, digital certificates, wellness surveys, and robotic cleaning and disinfection systems will be deployed at the corporate setups.
Software’s embraced by Corporates
The corporate giants have resorted to computer vision for the early detection of vital signs of the onset of COVID-19. Tech firms like Salesforce and IBM have coalesced on a “digital health pass” that acquires vaccination data and health status. Start-up Clear, has curated a health pass that is being used by organizations like the National Hockey League and MGM Resorts. Recently acquired by Google, Fitbit concocted the “Ready for Work” program that analyses daily data from its device. Another super tech, Microsoft and United Health Care has disposed of a Protect Well app which has a daily symptom screener. The largest E-commerce firm, Amazon also incorporated ‘ distance assistant’ in its warehouses to aid employees in maintaining safe distances during work.
‘Blur the lines’
Accommodating the infrastructures; employees will have to go through screenings and monitoring in elevators, hallways, and throughout the workplace. Darrell West, Vice President Brookings Institution said “monitoring blurs the line between people’s workplace and personal lives.” A survey by consumer activist group Public Citizen in the year 2020 reported the creation of 50 apps and technologies termed as workplace surveillance tools to combat SARS-CoV2. The report said, “The invasion of privacy that workers face is alarming, especially considering that the effectiveness of these technologies in mitigating the spread of Covid-19 has not yet been established.” It demanded clear rules on collection and storage of data, with apt disclosure to employees.
Consumer Electronics Show 2021
Professor of management and organization at Penn State University said,” Employers face a delicate balance as they try to ensure workplace safety without intruding on privacy. It is reported that many employers rely on third-party tech vendors to monitor their data to terminate privacy threats. The CES 2021 witnessed innumerable software designed to combat COVID. A Taiwan based firm Face Heart and Dragonfly has developed software instable in the camera to monitor the vital signs of a human and detect early signs of COVID-19.
TPT Policy advocacy and recommendations
- There is no concrete evidence that the apps curated for COVID-19 symptom monitoring could thwart transmission. The introduction of vaccine passports would be premature as the mutant strains might go undetected.
- With the indispensable spurt of technology, the pros and cons pave along. The wearables emit EMF radiation that induced nausea, dysmorphia, nocturnal disturbances and memory loss. The software industries should revamp their systems to prevent long term effects of the devices.
- The key to successful compliance is to allow appropriate integration of the process which is obtained by combining digital passports with existing workforce and human capital management process and system. This ensures only those can verify they have been vaccinated and can re-join workplace physically.