AWG, the parent company of Anglian Water, is using a mobile alert service to improve the safety of its lone workers.
With as many as 2,500 workers regularly visiting remote locations, AWG decided to look for a product that provided a "reasonable level of protection for every lone worker". It chose Lookout Call from C3, a fully automated incident detection and response system based on O2 mobile phones and interactive voice response technology.
Lookout Call gives those who feel vulnerable a reliable means of letting relevant people know where they are as they go about their daily tasks and in the event of an emergency allows them to quickly and easily raise the alarm.
The lone worker's mobile phone number is logged into a database of workers' names managed by C3. When the employee starts a job they speed dial the service to let them know the location and duration of the job.
This information is already preprogrammed in the system, enabling the worker to press just one key for each piece of information. They can then request the service to call them after a certain period of time.
If the worker fails to respond after receiving three text messages from the call service, C3 will automatically phone the worker's manager at AWG to alert them to the potential problem. The system can also be programmed so that emergency services receive the alert.
Richard Luke, telecoms manager at AWG, said, "We have a huge problem with people's perceptions of risk - most lone workers presume they are not taking any risks, but in the water industry there is a huge risk of falling down wells.
"The system has proved to be a perfect solution, both in terms of ease of use and cost. We are particularly impressed by the fact that we can use our existing handsets without modification to access the system."
The C3 mobile alert service has been adopted by other public sector organisations, including Darlington Primary Care Trust, West Suffolk Primary Care Trust and East London and City Mental Health Trust.
Explaining the benefits to NHS workers, John Wood, sales and marketing manager at C3, said, "Employers are recognising that the threat of violence and abuse against community workers can have a detrimental effect on the way lone workers do their jobs."
This was first published in July 2004