Whether it’s by automating monitoring processes in dangerous environments, helping first responders find us in our moment of need, or locating workers in hazardous work environments, M2M is being put to work for worker safety. And construction is one industry in particular that stands to be in direct line to benefit.

While technologies such as Wi-Fi and LBS (location-based services) are often associated with products and solutions in the consumer realm, such as mobile devices and gaming systems, these two technologies also enable the Accenture Life Safety Solution–a wireless multi-gas detection system that allows companies to remotely monitor locations such as chemical/industrial plants and construction jobsites.

In many industries, one of the biggest and most pressing challenges facing business owners and operators is how to ensure its workers’ safety. By combining Wi-Fi and LBS technologies with gas detectors, the solution not only helps companies remotely identify potentially dangerous levels of gases such as hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, and oxygen, it helps locate workers in these environments, which can be crucial in an emergency.

According to Ken Johnson, director of Accenture Plant and Automation Solutions, www.accenture.com, a consulting and technology-services company, “One of the challenges with keeping workers safe in hazardous environments and plants is understanding what gases they are exposed to, as well as if they are having any other issues like a medical problem.”

Designed for industries such as construction, oil and gas, chemical and manufacturing, utilities, and mining, among others, the Accenture Life Safety Solution works in places where dense steel infrastructure had, in the past, made it difficult to install and implement wireless safety solutions. The key to this particular solution relies is the installation of several Wi-Fi access points that can pinpoint the location of workers, who wear lapel-based wireless gas detectors that also feature a panic button and a motion sensor.

“The Accenture Life Safety Solution allows for continuous feedback of this information back to the central control board so (operators) are alerted if there may be a problem,” Johnson says. He adds, “It is one thing to understand this information, but since the plant is very large, if we don&’t understand where (workers) are as well, it would be very difficult to help them.”

The solution is a result of a collaboration between Accenture; Cisco, www.cisco.com, which provides its Unified Wireless Network and Mobility Services Engine; AeroScout, www.aeroscout.com, provider of the location-management technology; and Industrial Scientific Corp., www.indsci.com, provider of the Ventis LS multi-gas detector and iNet–a “gas detection as a service” solution.

Raghu Arunachalam, director of emerging technologies at Industrial Scientific, says, what is revolutionary about this type of solution is it allows managers to oversee the safety of thousands of employees from a central location.

Plus, the predictive nature of this type of connected solution can be invaluable. “Typically for many workplaces–;for instance, a construction jobsite–safety information gets collected at the end of the day; and due to the sheer amount of that data, not much gets done with it,”; Arunachalam says. “What this technology can do is take that information and help predict if there’s a risk, an incident, or an accident in the works at a site (and) we’re been able to predict quite accurately.”

In the case of the Accenture Life Safety Solution, after the data is collected from wireless gas detectors and sent to the control board operator, the operator may call the worker to make sure he is ok in event of an alarm. If a worker is unable to respond, the board operator knows to take action. To Arunachalam’s point, the data is also sent to the company’s incident-tracking system, which can help operators keep track of safety reports and analyze potentially dangerous trends.