How a startup that works with Toyota and Walmart is repurposing smart devices to track social distancing and contract-tracing for industrial workers
StrongArm Technologies, a startup that helps large corporations keep their industrial workers safe by analyzing data from smart devices, is turning its attention to the coronavirus. The startup is working on using its experience and technology to establish standards for industrial workers around social distancing and contract tracing. The efforts are an example of companies using data from smart devices, also known as IoT, to help understand how to safely let employees return to work. Click here for more BI Prime stories.
A startup that helps large corporations keep their industrial workers safe through the use of smart devices is turning its attention towards the coronavirus. It's a move that could serve as a preview for how organizations will look to leverage big data for a return to work. Unlike white-collar jobs, which have the luxury of working remotely, industrial workers need to be on-premise to work for the most part. As a result, coronavirus outbreaks have plagued warehouses such as Amazon, Boeing, and JBS Colorado beef plant. StrongArm Technologies' traditional business is focused on protecting industrial workers via the analysis of data collected through smart devices worn by employees. Algorithms allow the platform to use the data to understand what leads to work-place injuries and how to help employees avoid them in the future. The startup is leveraging those techniques to help companies establish social-distancing standards and perform contract tracing for their industrial employees, Sean Petterson, CEO and founder of StrongArm Technologies, told Business Insider. "When this COVID situation hit, what we're trying to do is just see how we can be useful," said Petterson, who estimated many of the warehouses and distribution centers that use StrongArm are seeing as much as a 10-fold increase in volume. "We could just use our technology to help augment what the [environmental, health, and safety] professionals are having trouble maintaining just because there's so much volume. There's so much chaos, and there's so many more responsibilities," he added. Read more: Warehouse properties are suddenly red-hot, with Amazon snapping up space while ailing companies sell. Here's a look at key deals and market forecasts that lay out a huge opportunity for industrial real-estate. StrongArm is focusing on social distancing and contract tracing StrongArm, whose clientele includes Walmart, Toyota and French transportation and logistics giant Geodis, has worked out of the New Lab's facilities in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a hub for hundreds of investors to share millions of dollars worth of resources while working on new projects. Petterson said a prototype was already developed earlier this month with plans for a wider rollout targeted for June 1. One such feature is focused on social distancing. The user's device will ping as they get closer to another employee wearing a device before a larger alert is administered when they are within six feet of each other. A step further would be leveraging the tech for contract tracing — understanding which employees were exposed to an employee who tested positive. Thanks to its background tracking employee movements and categorizing it appropriately, Petterson said StrongArm is in a great position to help companies with those efforts as well. "The thing about the way our platform has been built is that we learn about every incident, every day. And the only reason we can do that is we spent a long time building what's called a time-series database," he added. "So we're collecting that information, all those different inputs at a rate of 12.5-times a second, and then we're cataloging that in the cloud." The startups efforts represent the potential of IoT The use case goes even beyond just contract tracing, Petterson said, as that data can also be used to better understand how employees are interacting with each other. Being able to see where major hotspots or congestion points are will go a long way in helping companies reevaluate how they're structured. StrongArm's efforts are an example of the potential benefits smart devices — also known as the Internet of Things or IoT — can have when it comes to companies trying to understand how to safely return to work. To be sure, not everyone is as comfortable with having their movements tracked, regardless of the benefits it might pose. To that point, StrongArm has a pledge on its website stating usage of its platform to "punish or unduly monitor" employees or using data for "punitive measures" is forbidden and grounds for contract termination. Coronavirus aside, Petterson said conversations around understanding how industrial workers are interacting are long overdue for companies. The rise of ecommerce has led to an influx of volume that has forced the entire supply chain to be "turned on its head." "Organizations are recognizing that you need to care for these people," he added. "We're seeing a great deal of more interest in protecting these individuals."SEE ALSO: Warehouse properties are suddenly red-hot, with Amazon snapping up space while ailing companies sell. Here's a look at key deals and market forecasts that lay out a huge opportunity for industrial real-estate. SEE ALSO: Bond, which has raised $15 million from investors including Lightspeed, wants to become the Shopify of logistics by turning vacant retail space into warehouses SEE ALSO: Worker-tracking startup VergeSense just raised $9 million as it pivots to provide social-distancing tech. Here's the pitch it's hoping can boost sales to Fortune 1000 companies by 500%. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What makes 'Parasite' so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence
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EY and Deloitte won at least $63 million in no-bid state contracts for coronavirus response work, with some staffers billing up to $190 per hour to update unemployment tech
Summary List Placement During the last seven months, the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the...Summary List Placement During the last seven months, the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the US economy, impacting sectors like travel, hospitality, and retail and pushing the latest unemployment rate to 7.9% in September. Professional services firms haven't been immune to hardship: the consulting industry pandemic shrunk the size of the consulting market from $160 billion to $132 billion, while firms like KPMG and Accenture have laid off employees. But the pandemic has also created a business opportunity for some tax and audit firms that are now making money aiding state governments in handling coronavirus response measures. Deloitte and EY have earned at least 10 contracts with four states and are wracking up $63.2 million in fees to help with COVID-related work like managing unemployment claims, updating technology, and more. The work is on top of the many other contracts state governments award to the Big 4 each year to handle technology, audits, and more. For example, Deloitte just won a $135 million contract to overhaul Florida's Medicaid data system, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times. Deloitte and EY declined to be interviewed about their work with California, Colorado Illinois, and Kentucky. A spokesperson for Deloitte said in an email that the firm is currently working with "several state clients" to help navigate increased demand for unemployment services due to the pandemic. "The IT systems we have developed, and continue to maintain, have helped deliver more than $110 billion in benefits to millions of unemployed workers and their families throughout the United States," the Deloitte spokesperson said. An EY spokesperson in an email the firm has been hired by some states to help them modernize their technology and expand call center and claims processing capabilities. "The enormous surge of unemployment claims brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has created a large backlog of claims which has come on the heels of record-low unemployment before the pandemic," the EY spokesperson said. "This has resulted in the immediate need for states to modernize overloaded websites, understaffed call centers, and outdated legacy systems." Each of the 10 contracts awarded to Deloitte and EY was approved through a no-bid process. Read more:Layoffs, pay cuts, and dialed-back recruiting: Here's how the biggest accounting and consulting firms are cutting costs and shrinking headcount For many state contracts, departments invite multiple companies to submit work proposals for projects in order to vet the best contractor for the job, spread work around and obtain a competitive price. Companies can win no-bid contracts when they are the only company able to complete the work or the work needs to be done quickly, because the normal bid process can last weeks or months. Deloitte and EY were exempted from the bid processes due to the emergency nature of the pandemic or because they were the only companies that could complete the work, according to the contracts. Business Insider took a look at each state's procurement system to identify Covid-related contracts awarded to the four firms collectively known as the Big 4 — Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG — after March 15. Contracts were also potentially awarded by New York state and Tennessee, but the public records were unavailable at the time of publication due to public-records processing timelines. California contracted Deloitte for $17.6 million Deloitte is set to net $17.6 million for its work with California's Employee Development Department and Department of Public Health. California is paying Deloitte $5 million for the work it has done between April 1 and March 21 this year updating the state's Employee Development Department online unemployment insurance system. The contract also breaks down pay for the IT consulting staff working with the department. These are discounted hourly-rates that the firm has provided for these roles. Deloitte senior technical leads charge $155-$175 per hour; technical leads charge $130-$160 per hour; senior programmers charge $135 per hour; senior enterprise architects charge $190 per hour; and delivery managers charge $165-$190 per hour In another contract with the Employee Development Department, worth $11.1 million, Deloitte provided 500 full-time employees from April 20-June 20 to staff an insurance claims call center. Deloitte also earned $1.5 million for work with the state's Department of Public Health in April to create an app with Pegasystems, a cloud-based customer relationship management software, to document employee information such as physical health and teleworking status. Representatives for the state's Employee Development Department, the Department of Public Health, and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, which is managing pandemic-related contracts, did not respond to requests for comment. Read more: 'Big 4' salaries, revealed: How much Deloitte, KPMG, EY, and PwC accountants and consultants make, from entry level to executive roles In Colorado, EY is making $1.6 million to resolve unemployment claims EY earned one pandemic-related contract from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's Division of Unemployment Insurance to validate and prepare employer premium billings. According to the contract, EY worked from May 26-June 30 to resolve about 64,500 claims and earned $1.6 million. Representatives for the Department of Labor did not respond to requests for comment. Illinois has shelled out $23.4 million to both Deloitte and EY Illinois awarded contacts to both Deloitte and EY for help with the state's COVID response. Deloitte earned a $12.7 million contract in May to work with the Department of Employment Security to provide "additional technical resources" for benefits claim filings at call centers from the end of April through the end of the year. The Department of Employment Security in August again contracted Deloitte, this time for $3.2 million to implement and maintain a cloud-based version of its Unemployment Framework for Automated Claim & Tax Services solution to meet federal CARES Act and state Disaster Unemployment Assistance claims. In all, Deloitte has earned nearly $16 million in work from the state. Representatives for the Department of Employment Security did not respond to requests for comment. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Medical Programs awarded work to EY in August to provide "medical technical services," analyze and review COVID-related medical information, and make sure federal guidance from the CARES Act, DHHS, CDC, and FEMA is followed. The contract, which started on August 6 and runs through March 31, 2022, is for $7.4 million. Read more: A state-by-state look at unemployment in America: 50 people share how they're getting by — and what's next A spokesman for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, said in an email that the department contracted EY to quickly and efficiently manage the "swift and unprecedented distribution" of CARES payments to Illinoisans. They also said that through the contract the firm will help the department "gather provider data, documentation, and affirm eligibility for CARES funds; assist with funding recommendations; assist with compliance and documentation on provider's use of CARES payments; and assist with final reports and wrap-up at the conclusion of the funding period." Kentucky has also contracted both Deloitte and EY and has so far spent $20.6 million Kentucky also awarded contracts to both EY and Deloitte to track the virus and process unemployment claims. Deloitte earned $3.3 million of work on May 12 to provide "COVID-19 Response and Recovery" to develop a contact-tracing program, although the contract language was vague and the scope of the work was not made public. In a second contract that went into effect nine days later, Kentucky tasked Deloitte with contact tracing and tracking of positive Covid cases. The contract, which originally ran from May-October, was extended through the end of 2020 and is netting Deloitte $5.2 million. Some IT errors in August caused the state's daily case count to be "artificially low" and needing adjustment, the Courier-Journal reported. The state also contracted EY for $12 million to work through the state's unemployment claims backlog. The original contract, which was awarded in July for $7.6 million, was originally for work to be performed from July 1-26, but it was extended to the end of August for an additional $4.5 million. Representatives for the state's Finance and Administration Cabinet, which handles purchasing and procurement, did not respond to requests for comment.SEE ALSO: Read more: 'Big 4' salaries, revealed: How much Deloitte, KPMG, EY, and PwC accountants and consultants make, from entry level to executive roles SEE ALSO: KPMG just axed 1,400 US jobs across tax, audit, and advisory businesses and is also cutting some workers' pay SEE ALSO: Accenture is cutting more low performers across the 500,000-plus person firm as fewer employees are jumping ship on their own Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
HEALTH TECH'S ROLE IN THE NEW OFFICE NORMAL: How digital health firms are helping US employers facilitate return-to-work programs amid the coronavirus pandemic
Summary List Placement The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the US economy into a state of flux,...Summary List Placement The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the US economy into a state of flux, forcing businesses into uncharted territory as they decide when and how to reopen. Before the pandemic, 39% of US office employees worked remotely—which nearly doubled to 77% during the pandemic, per a June PwC survey. Now, company leaders across the US are strategizing how to resume operations and restore normalcy by bringing their employees back into the office. In order to reopen brick-and-mortar offices, warehouses, and stores, it'll be of paramount importance for employers to navigate how to do so safely and instate routines that curb the spread of the coronavirus. Otherwise, employers risk creating sites of new outbreaks and being forced to shut their doors yet again. The pandemic could hike up employer medical spending—creating an even greater sense of urgency for products that help ensure workers are in good health. The pandemic could increase self-insured employers' medical spending by as much as 10% in 2021, per PwC's estimates. For context, this estimate was calculated under the assumption the wave of coronavirus cases erupting in the spring of 2020 would lead patients to defer care to 2021. So, investing in programs that will maintain the health and safety of workplaces will be top-of-mind for businesses looking to preemptively rein in medical spending now, considering it could tick up over the course of the year. Tech companies and digital health startups are rolling out software to facilitate the return-to-work transition for employees. Return-to-work methods have made headlines, like Amazon's use of temperature checkpoints in its warehouses. But another segment of software developers—digital health firms—are designing platforms that focus on monitoring employees' symptoms and coronavirus status, and passing that information onto their employers. In this report, Insider Intelligence outlines how tech giants and digital health companies are using their tech and clinical expertise to help US businesses with their reopening plans. We explore what the return-to-work health tech space looks like now—providing examples of the solutions on the market from both tech companies and fast-moving digital health companies, and unpacking the pros and cons of each. Finally, we shed light on some of the legal and privacy-related challenges that could hamper employers' implementation of tech-enabled return-to-work programs. The companies mentioned in this report are: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Castlight Health, Collective Health, Color, Dole, emocha, Facebook, Fitbit, Google, Microsoft, One Medical, RxMx, Salesforce, Sonde Health, UnitedHealth Group, UrbanSitters, and Verily. Here are some key takeaways from this report: Employers are strategizing how to reinstate normalcy in their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic—and tech developers are rolling out retirn-to-work programs that prioritize ensuring the health of employees. Some of the largest tech companies are throwing their hats into the workforce reentry space, leaning on their data analytics prowess and existing relationships with healthcare entities in their pursuit of return-to-work tie-ups. Digital health companies are relying on their specific areas of expertise—employee benefits, telehealth, lab testing, voice—to craft return-to-work programs that attract businesses across industries. Privacy hangups surrounding employee surveillance are still inhibiting employers from investing in and implementing return-to-work tech, and the changing legal landscape may also make it difficult to to implement workforce reentry programs, especially those than lean heavily on contact tracing. In full, the report: Provides a snapshot of the tech-focused return-to-work market. Outlines ways in which prominent tech companies and digital health startups are pivoting to roll out workforce reentry solutions. Highlights the pros and cons of implementing return-to-work solutions. Identifies the legal and privacy-related barriers that exist—and will likely persist—to investing in tech-focused return-to-work solutions. Interested in getting the full report? Here's how you can gain access: Join other Insider Intelligence clients who receive this report, along with thousands of other Digital Health forecasts, briefings, charts, and research reports to their inboxes. >> Become a Client Purchase the individual report from our store. >> Buy The Report Here Are you a current Insider Intelligence client? Log in and read the report here.Join the conversation about this story »
Tech, catering and design companies are rushing to sell employers on fever scanners, box lunches and...Tech, catering and design companies are rushing to sell employers on fever scanners, box lunches and office floor-planning apps for social distancing. But it’s too soon to tell if they will work.