By Jeremy Straker, VP Sales EMEA
Ask someone to give an example of PPE (personal protective equipment). The chances are their reply will include gloves, masks, gowns, and hand sanitizer. But there is something they will probably miss.
It’s an item we use continually, that’s already an integral part of our lives. And it can be used to keep people safe. That item is the everyday smartphone.
Surprised? One of the significant challenges in the pandemic is the need to minimize human-to-human contact. So seen through that prism, the smartphone’s ability to make life more contactless also makes it a crucial tool for keeping people healthy and safe.
For example, when someone pays for their shopping using self-scanning, it could be the time they avoided picking up or transmitting the virus from someone in the checkout line.
There are many use cases for smartphone scanning, from everyday situations like shopping or proof of delivery, to operational processes in critical Healthcare systems or manufacturing. Be it self-scanning in retail stores or managing barcode medication administration in a hospital ward, the smartphone is becoming an essential piece of PPE by minimizing physical contact in many areas of society.
Retail – self-scanning and contactless shopping
While high street retailers have been closed for much of the lockdown, supermarkets and grocery stores have kept us supplied with what we need to live.
Smartphone apps with scanning capability have helped both customers and employees in retail. From the customer perspective, self-scanning can dramatically reduce the amount of contact required in-store. The customer just needs to pick up a product. The rest, such as payment and even search and find, can be done via their own mobile device.
A great example is the Jisp app. The app is launching across hundreds of UK convenience stores. Powered by the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK, it has brought self-scanning to consumers across the country.
Transport and Logistics
The growth in online shopping has fueled a boom in click-and-collect, curbside pickup and home delivery.
Nowadays, the idea of signing for a package with a driver’s pen seems like an ancient ritual.
To help, Scandit created a Contactless Proof of Delivery web app that is quick for retailers and delivery companies to implement (video, website). Customers use their own smartphone to scan a QR code. This opens a web app so the customer can scan the barcode on the package and sign on their own device to confirm delivery.
Healthcare – a crucial accessory to help with patient care
Rightly, no one needs to be more protected than medical staff. Smartphone scanning can be used across hospitals and supply chains to reduce the need for staff to touch surfaces or be in physical contact with patients and colleagues.
Another typical situation brought up by Covid-19 has been the need to treat patients in non-typical treatment zones set up in temporary areas like hospital car parks. One cannot just take a hardware scanner wired to a PC into these places for tasks like barcode medication administration.
Before Covid-19, many hospitals were already shifting towards a smartphone scanning solution. Since the outbreak, this growth has grown as many hospitals have changed the way they operate and make nurses more mobile.
The ability to collect and share accurate, situational, and verifiable data is critical to improving patient safety. Smartphone scanning for things like patient wristbands, medication, and supplies, offers a low-cost, accessible way to automate care procedures while helping healthcare providers deliver patient care at scale.
Field Services – smartphones help workers stay safe in customer premises
As with anything, workers’ and customers’ health is a top priority, so speed and accuracy are essential to reduce the time technicians spend on customers’ premises.
The smartphone, powered with barcode scanning, has a crucial part to play in helping field service companies work in a safer way. And where staying connected, safe, and mobile is the new normal.
A digitalized process on a Scandit-powered smartphone ensures that onsite work is minimized in terms of contact. Any work done is fast. Workers can record the correct assets, and the technician won’t visit the customer for a second time exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.
A good example of this is US telecommunications provider Altafiber (previously Cincinnati Bell). It uses Samsung smartphones for barcode scanning in the field. In addition to improving customer service and safety, it has boosted employee productivity during home and office service calls.
Helping people maintain everyday lives
Lets not pretend a barcode scanning smartphone is critical to nursing staff as actual PPE and treating people on hospital wards. Yes, smartphone scanning applications help nurses, but we know this will not directly impact saving lives.
But on a broader level, the smartphone is a powerful digital tool that can help people perform everyday tasks in a contactless way, in our working and personal lives. Combined with the humble barcode, a smartphone allows us to connect with physical objects and stay safe.
And of course, in this time of enforced isolation, staying connected and mobile with our smartphones, is more critical than ever.