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Mike SilvaOct 25, 2021 10:38:58 AM2 min read

How Service Providers Are Using GIS Technologies for Safety Precautions


Service Providers across North America are continually challenged with ensuring the safety of their field (and maintenance) technicians, but often they don’t have the modern technology tools to do so. The common hurdle today is they often lack the ability to digitally mark the exact location of the person or persons, and/or event, and then effectively communicate that to the field teams. Why? Because legacy systems were not designed to extend to the field teams. Nor are they aware of a remote worker’s location and geographical boundaries for an event in real-time. At the same time, new technology solutions are emerging now that are getting the attention of the Tier 1s. Let’s focus on three scenarios to see how things are rapidly changing.

field safety

Field Safety

Field safety is when a field technician is working remote and an unforeseen event occurs, requiring them to notify HQ and their other remote workers. With new digital technologies field technicians can mark a “Violence in Area Pin” on a GIS map from their mobile device. From there the same tech can make comments (e.g., riot, tornado, etc.) and notify a supervisor as part of the Pin creation. Equally important is supervisors can leverage these same tools to mark specific geographic areas for an event area, and when that has been defined, the system can trigger a message to field technicians to get out of the area. Something like, “EXIT THE AREA”. Lastly, with more functionally rich GIS platforms, a supervisor can pull up the location of field operations personnel, set a timer for the event (e.g., expire in 12 hours) and trigger additional notifications as necessary.

Personal Safety

The most common personal safety scenario is when a maintenance technician is working on a pole and identifies a primary is broken or that there’s a live wire. This can be deadly. In this scenario, service providers have historically lacked the ability to digitally mark the location for HQ in real-time back. With GIS technologies specifically designed for Telco there are more advanced options, which include but are not limited to creating “BROKEN PRIMARY BRACKET” GIS Pins with instructions for the field techs. The instructions are typically as simple as:

1) “Call immediate supervisor.”
2) “Call the utility company.”

GIS technologies now also allow the field techs to take a picture, log the pole number, pole owner and other important information, which is why location intelligence technologies have become so popular.

Solo Worker Safety

Field service and maintenance technicians often work by themselves, which may be a risk in itself. What if a field technician needs to work in the bucket? Who is going to check in on them? How will their supervisor know if they’re working up in a bucket and when they’re finished without real-time on-demand location intelligence? Like the other two scenarios there are GIS technologies that allow a field technician to provide an exact location on a map, update their supervisor in real-time, set reminders to periodically check-in and much more, all from one mobile app.

In a world where safety regulations appear to be increasing and a reasonable portion of the workforce is out in the field there are on-demand location intelligence solutions to such challenges. While pen and paper or phone calls have been used historically, they are limited. This has resulted in a trend to modernize these processes with digital workflows founded on location intelligence.