Establishing network saturation in the areas where lone workers operate is essential in delivering a prompt response when a crisis arises. The GPS location and panic might always work, but if there’s no network to carry that signal out, nobody can respond.
These are the thoughts of Petra Hakansson, the founder and CEO of Guardian Angel Safety, a company specialising in lone worker safety in New Zealand and Australia. Ms Hakansson believes that a cell-based duress device for staff is useless when they’re regularly out of cell coverage areas. Sure, the GPS will always work while the device can see the sky, but if there’s no cell network to carry the alert to a responder, it’s pointless (and dangerous) to even use such a device in the first place.
Ms Hakansson suggests that if lone workers are out of cell cover more than 10% of the time – or whatever percentage you deem to be unacceptable risk – they may need a satellite or hybrid solution instead. Hybrid solutions will still work if staff go indoors, whereas a pure satellite solution won’t. Companies like Guardian Angel Safety provide a wide range of devices to cover all contingencies, and areas. They appeal as being superior to cell-based devices that depend on an often-patchy network to be effective.
Patchy certainly is the best way to describe network coverage in New Zealand and Australia once you leave the city centre. It doesn’t take long to arrive in areas where coverage is unreliable or non-existent. This compromises the safety of lone workers who solely rely on cell-based devices. This is why Guardian Angel Safety has an increasing number of clients looking at reliable alternatives. For example, many of the company’s regional council clients have opted for iridium based satellite solutions so they can be certain their staff are always able to communicate and raise an SOS. Other clients use cell-based pendants for their staff’s day to day use, but a pool of shared satellite devices for times when they know they’re going to leave cell cover.
Petra Hakansson believes one of the keys to looking after the welfare of lone workers is to ensure they’re protected by the most effective network. As an example, Ms Hakansson says the best satellite network for lone workers is Iridium. That’s because it is the only network with a large number of satellites (67) and it has forwarding technology. This means that if the satellite that first receives an SOS can’t see the earth station, it will immediately forward it to one that can. High-quality devices will continue to send the signal until it is confirmed as received by the satellites. As well as this, the device will indicate to the user that the alert has been received. This is an essential function for workers who are alone or in remote locations, as it gives them reassurance that help is on its way.
A cell-based device might look like it’s working in a crisis, but if the network coverage doesn’t exist, then it might as well be switched off. By exploring other options, as provided by companies like Guardian Angel Safety, you’re giving your lone and remote workers extra layers of protection, and that will give them the peace of mind they deserve.