Change of Guard

footprint for EHS

Managing digital footprint for EHS

With industrial systems, interfaces and human resource linked to each other via densely networked informative software, the opportunity to go ‘mobile-first’ is lucrative. Elsewhere on our blog, we’ve portrayed the complete picture painted by the mobile apps in an industrial safety and health scenario.

Though networked EHS software users would be far less than the current Indian internet users, unsurprisingly the challenges faced by both are similar and equally important.

Data security, privacy breaches and theft are the common enemy.

When it comes to industrial domain protected by the layers of EHS, data handover and exchange sees tremendous volumes aggregate in short period of time. This data has layers of identification clues embedded within it.

On the industrial scale, hacking is a heinous crime that can endanger lives and mechanized assets. The likes of which were seen in far regions of Ukraine where whole cities went without power due to hacked power generation stations which were shutdown remotely. This is the extraneous challenges – solved by proactive network security and network exploit deterrence.

The internal challenge is to protect the private data of the workforce from being exposed. Another challenge is understanding how the SCADAs and PLCs deployed around the site can be made safer with more layers of authentication and security embedded at each step along the way.

Modern EHS systems when deployed, can be hosted on local servers as well as cloud. In both cases, specific security systems protect and anonymize the data collection, reporting and storage. While it is easier in some countries where the laws spell out exactly what the data safekeeping compliance standards are, it is still a newfound concept which India is coming to terms with.

The talent, investment and organizational advantages can only be leveraged when the users in an EHS ecosystem feel confident about data security. Due to a common folly of strategy – deploy first and think later (maybe because the systems look so efficient) – digital risk related to data only gets magnified, step-by-step.

As organizations prepare for a digital transformation the management itself and the point people enabling this change need to ask the question: how safe, in terms of possible breach and privacy concern, is this system?

This is step one.

This step in itself should trigger a more agile response of checking the responsible data handling-handover policies that the new digital transformation partner is bringing to the table.

Without asking simple questions, we would be truly lost. Organizations should ensure that before looking into what the system can deliver, they should also explore how safely it achieves it.

Stringent data policies with password protection and two-factor authentication are the basic steps to ensure safekeeping. Compulsory use of limited data access for medical health records should be in place with information available to the employees.

The recent spate of wearable devices have suddenly found a new lease of life in the EHS domain. Such similar technologies raise data privacy concern of a different magnitude however, robust data policies and past experiences have plenty to offer within this context.

Choosing between ‘on premise’ and ‘cloud’ services in modern day isn’t really a question. Cloud services with added layers of security has the potential to become a better companion in the long run.

What’s your opinion on this? Do you think Cloud services have what it takes to ensure data protection? Share your views through your comments.

 

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