Guest Post: Adrian Weidmann, StoreStream Metrics
Businesses of all stripes, facilities and organizations are all working with their own playbooks for opening, and staying open, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main objective of their playbooks, and their tactical implementations, is to convey trust, credibility, and transparency to anyone who enters their premises – whether that’s staff, residents, students or visitors.
They’re trying to convey how that “place” is a safe environment, that considers health and safety as critically important, and drafts off Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines involving social distancing, personal hygiene, limited occupancy, and extensive cleaning & sanitizing procedures.
But there’s a gap. What all these policies and procedures are missing is accountability, verification, and certification.
McDonald’s sent their dine-in re-opening playbook to their franchisees in mid-May. I got my hands on a copy, and was struck by a single phrase found on the first pages of the QSR giant’s 60-page roadmap: “We only get one chance to do this the right way.”
But what is that right way?
As 2020 has progressed and the COVID-19 outbreak grew increasingly prevalent and deadly, I’ve watched as countless companies have started offering their takes on solutions for safe re-openings and ongoing business operations. We’ve all seen dozens of options like integrated hand-sanitizer dispensers, thermal imaging and computer vision cameras for taking the someone’s temperature (and their photo), footfall traffic sensors for occupancy measurement and analytics data – almost all associated in some fashion with a digital display. There are already at least three dozen variations of temperature check kiosks being marketed.
The net result has been a lightning-fast shift from focused solutions that meet the moment, to commodities that have to compete on price. That all happened in weeks.
These offerings have gone from opportunistic hardware integrations to expensive commodities within a matter of weeks.
It all begs an admittedly blunt question: “So what?”
What do you do now that your device alerts you that a guest has a temperature of 101°F? How do you, your customers, or employees know that the cleaning and sanitizing requirements are actually being done? How can you prove, certify, or communicate that these procedures and/or policies were done?
Many of these efforts offer great optics – creating an impression that operators are doing what they can to maximize health safety. But they lack meaningful substance, because there’s no real ability to data-log and time-stamp each event in order to communicate accountability, response actions, traceability, and certification.
To genuinely make a difference, the people running everything from shops and restaurants to schools and places of worship need to:
- • Prove and certify their COVID-19 response commitment, efforts and results;
- • Communicate their compliance to their staff, guests, parents, and broader community in order to validate their commitment;
- • Provide real-time visibility, traceability (including contact-tracing), and reporting across all necessary tiers, departments, even public health and first responders for appropriate and timely response, actions, and management;
- • Enable secure audits and affidavits for legal protection.
Candidly, when the gravity of this pandemic really grew evident, and scary, my company looked at some of the technologies out there – the thermal imagers, the gatekeepers and so on – with the idea that we could offer our own problem-solving version.
But we quickly concluded that whatever got developed and marketed was likely to be one of too many similar options.
Our sweet spot is software that models and optimizes the effectiveness of digital signage, so we instead stuck to what we knew. We’re now refining a web-based software platform that is all about quality assurance – using real-time data to drive appropriate and automated response actions, communications, and certification reporting
It’s no longer enough to hang a clipboard in facility washrooms that tries to communicate health safety by logging when they were last cleaned.
Our take – something we’re calling SafePlace Shield – is aimed at the organizations and brands that are committed and invested in actually doing the processes, monitoring, cleaning, and sanitizing procedures necessary to deliver and maintain safe, healthy, and secure environments.
That “only one chance” quote from the McDonald’s re-opening playbook not only amplifies the importance of these requirements for all their stakeholders, but also their financial significance and impact. This is the “new normal” expectation for all of us – now and in the future.
In a competitive landscape where loyalty and trust in our brands and institutions are eroding, and now made significantly more difficult by the pandemic, there is a tremendous opportunity and need for organizations to provide verifiable assurance of the efforts they’re making in health safety.
About The Writer
Adrian Weidmann is the Founder and Managing Director of StoreStream Metrics. Over the past 22 years Adrian has invented 3 different software tools to model and optimize the efficacy of digital signage including blink325, a predictive analysis service combining viewing science, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimize digital signage content design. His latest- SafePlace Shield– offers a web-based, enterprise class platform with embedded mobile integration utilizing communications, live maps, BI, AI, and ML tools (even a mobile SOS trigger) to provide accountability, traceability, compliance, and certification for COVID-19 reopening strategies. Clients include UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, and Dairy Queen.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.