06 March 2020

Tech Perspective #4: Insights Can Fight Epidemics


Globalisation means what happens there, matters over here.

  • Business travel exposes individuals and the company to potential risks.
  • IoT technologies can help gather insights to protect wellbeing and asset health.
  • The tools to achieve this are already in place – we must use them.

International travel boosts new opportunities than ever before. Throughout our travels, we expose ourselves, our hardware, even our companies to threats.

With increased movements abroad, employees may find themselves and their organisation exposed. The result can be a compromise of company assets or exposure to infectious disease. We can help prevent the consequences of these vulnerabilities. It’s a simple case of identifying travelling workers and points of contact.

Provide company-relevant insight

Many internal systems already locate colleagues, book rooms, or help access digital lockers. But let’s broaden the picture.

Imagine the levels of insight won through ‘digital handshakes.’ Think, attendance of large conferences, transit through high-risk airports, and certain meetings.

In fact, we could add any other metrics deemed important to the company.

Many will weigh the privacy implications of such software. Will it know when I had an alcoholic beverage on my trip? Will it assess my credit card expenses? The level of intricacy should not surveyintimate aspectsbut provide company-relevant insight. The distinction between private and proprietary isnow clearerthan ever. Today, companies and staff can find reasonable ground to define these parameters.

Through enterprise solutions, such as Zonifero, employees already interact with IoT infrastructure. With the app, they input statuses on digital attendance lists, orbook roomsand hot desks. Using a simplified interface, absentees update their status, which then updates the database. The same process applies for business trips.

What I propose is for technologies to take a step further.They should take a more proactive role inrightfullyaccounting for activities on trips. In fact, they’re already taking place on the company’s dime.

Protecting the Protector

The implications aren’tsimplyfor data managers to gawk. The insights would help relevant departments carry out their jobs moreeffectively.

These metrics can serve as powerful instruments for optimisation, security, and general wellbeing. A digital signature could be all that’s needed. This tech could help inform corporate credit card providers. In this case, an authorised cardholder will make a last-minute travel update. The solution can also register travelling delegates with local embassies or insurance providers.

These are tangible solutions for common situations.However, for it to fulfil its promise of security, it must encrypt this data. This is especially vital for international travel. Such safety nets can prevent information falling into the hands of foreign entities. A layer of encryption through the likes of VPNs and proxies may be that solution. Access into the app can demand fingerprint identification, or ‘open eyes’ facial recognition.

Unmasking the circumstances of a business trip itinerary is now a necessary measure. Employers may then act along with this advice. In times of viral infection, they may request returning workers to take precautions. Following trips abroad, they may need to return hardware for inspection. In medical cases – this may mean to self-isolate and inform health teams.

Implicationsfor the Company

The threat of infections is both digital and biological. In either case, it poses severe implications to our networks, productivity, and operations. Many larger company headquarters facetemporary closuresin such events. The reasons may be due to verified risk, orsimplydue toprecautionarymeasures.

Human behaviours may be our worst enemy in combatting threats. But we don’t have ourselves to blame.Technologically, adversaries are smarter. Risk of contagion is also greater than ever. Our exposure to threats is constant and existential. This can be due to acompromisedWIFI connection in a London transit hub. It may also be the sneeze of a neighbouring passenger at Frankfurt airport.

With the IoT, connectivity and data processing – we can take decisive protective actions. Companies should seize this opportunity to safeguard for such event. Because, there will always be risks posed by travelling delegations. As we continue to travel, in the digital age, it may seem our best defence is information.

Read more stories on tech and business on our blog.

Marcin Bartoszuk
Chief Operating Officer

With Microsoft technologies related since 2005. He graduated from the Computer Science Faculty of the Bialystok University of Technology where he was the leader of the .NET Group and the Microsoft Student Partner. Four times finalist of the national stage of the Imagine Cup competition, and later the mentor and the jury member of the contest. Co-founder of the Bialystok .NET Group. He lectured .NET development at the Bialystok University of Technology. Microsoft MVP in the Client Application Development category in 2008-2010, when he actively participated in the IT community. Constant new technology enthusiast and IT consultant.