BENGALURU: A tool developed by scientists in Bengaluru to assess a firm’s readiness to allow workers back into offices in a safe manner has elicited both domestic and global interest. The COVID-19 Workplace Readiness Indicator was developed by the Centre for Networked Intelligence (CNI) at the Indian Institute of Science and the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) with Corporate Social Responsibility support from Cisco.
Since its launch in June, the researchers have received a number of queries about the app, the largest chunk being from the IT/ITES sector (48%), followed by research and development sector (14), manufacturing (8%) and governments (7%). However, they recently received a query from South Africa and one from a Nagaland-based developer who reached out to the team to say that he had drawn ideas from their tool to develop a similar one for his home state.
“We were contacted by a company in South Africa informing us that they wanted to make use of our open-source code. We helped them understand the design and customize the tool for their context,” said Preetam Patil, a member of the CNI team which developed the app. The company’s representative also said that a provincial government in South Africa is considering using the tool.
The tool suggests a simple readiness threshold that organisations need to meet or exceed in order to operate effectively while managing their pandemic response. It takes into account broad epidemic factors and social objectives, and calculates a firm’s readiness based on indices such as infrastructure, precautions, outreach, employee interactions, transport, details of eateries, hygiene and sanitation. Companies can then decide on a how to plan work shifts, what precautions to put in place, and company advisories, based on its objectives.
Interest in the tool was high in June-July, but has gradually declined. The tool’s website has seen over 3,700 unique visitors. Although firms across the country have resumed operations to varying degrees, the researchers say the tool is still relevant. “As workplaces ramp up operations towards normalcy, it is easy to lose sight of precautions due to lengthy Standard Operating Procedures.
Our readiness tool can serve as a handy planner for common precautions organised into different categories,” Preetam says. The team is continuing to add features to the tool, the latest being a ranking system. “We have included a percentile rank within a category if there are more than 50 entries in a category to indicate how the organisation is placed within its category,” said Preetam.