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Social distancing keeps opportunities close by

Social distancing is now more important than ever as economies around the world reopen and people learn to live alongside Covid-19. For innovative Irish companies this new need to be together, but apart, is opening up fresh export opportunities.

It includes companies such as UtilityAR, which specialises in augmented reality (AR) solutions for smart factories in sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical, utilities and data centres. Right now it is enabling workers separated by Covid-19 – either because of social distancing or because one may be in quarantine – to continue to work together.

“We produce systems for technical workers to help them get the job done in cases where, traditionally, they would have worked side by side, whether for oversight, guidance, trouble shooting or simply to have a second pair of eyes,” says UtilityAR CEO Patrick Liddy.

Its high tech AR eye glasses allow the wearer share what he or she is seeing with a colleague on another part of the site, allowing socially distanced collaboration. The company has clients around the world, in some case helped by contacts made working with foreign multinationals based in Ireland.  


Enabling companies to get back to work

Irish construction services technology company GoContractor quickly identified Covid challenges for the construction industry, particularly in relation to induction and training. Much of this activity traditionally takes place in person, either in a work trailer or classroom, and involves the sharing and copying of documents. Clocking on too, whether paper based, touch screen or turnstile, risks spreading germs.

Prior to Covid-19 GoContractor’s contractor management platform automated these processes and moved them online, saving safety and project management personnel thousands of hours of teaching and registration time over the life of a project.

Since Covid the company has been enabling construction companies in Ireland, the UK, US and Canada to get back to work by providing a socially distanced ‘no touch’ method for site orientations, registrations and access control.

Instead of a worker having to physically provide documents to site-safety personnel or a site manager, GoContractor allows workers to upload their credentials directly to the GoContractor platform, from anywhere.

For clocking on and off, GoContractor allows site security or other check-in personnel to scan a QR code to pull up their information, making sure they are properly trained and registered to be on site, and then checking them into the worksite.

GoContractor even allows for hard hat stickers with QR codes, meaning workers can simply have their hard hat scanned on the way in and out of a site to be checked at a distance.


Adding value for clients

All of these innovations can provide additional value to its clients in the post Covid era, including international companies such as Lendlease, AECOM and Skanska.

Irish software firm Solgari develops integrated communications solutions for the fintech sector that offer voice, video, chat, SMS and co-browsing options which are fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and support regulatory compliance globally.

Since Covid-19 the company has been helping its clients meet demand for distance-working by ensuring that all company communications are recorded, and the data extracted efficiently, regardless of geography or medium. It allows companies whose employees are working remotely to keep up to date records of all client interactions.

Internet of things specialist Taoglas launched CROWD Insights, an IoT solution that supports social distancing. Its cloud-based analytics platform uses existing WiFi infrastructure to measure, monitor, predict, alert and notify social distancing breaches.

“We believe this will be vital in the days and months to come, to allow people to move around safely without fear and to get the economy moving again and help business to stay open,”

says Ronan Quinlan, co-chief executive of Taoglas

Waterford based Nearform answered Ireland’s call with the development of the HSE’s new mobile tracing app, designed to rapidly notify those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

When launched the new real-time symptom tracking and digital contact tracing app will curtail the spread of the virus across Ireland.

Dublin based Kastus moved quickly in response to the pandemic, taking its already pioneering anti microbial surface coating and getting it independently tested – and verified – as a key tool in the fight against Covid-19.

It works on touch screen devices, such as those seen at airport terminals and in fast food restaurants. The company, which prior to Covid had already provided with Al Maha, a ceramic tile maker in Oman, has since partnered with Swedish company ZetaDisplay too, a specialist in digital signage.

As for so many innovative Irish companies, the move showed how social distancing globally can bring business opportunities back home. 

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