Essential Workers and 5 Technologies Keeping Them Safe
Innovation & Tech Today|Summer 2020
Essential Workers and 5 Technologies Keeping Them Safe
Frontline medical workers like doctors and nurses have received justifiable praise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kayla Matthews

However, there are also many others along the frontlines putting themselves at risk every time they clock in. Some are retail workers, cashiers at the grocery stores, restaurant staff, and factory workers. Others are care, sanitation, or health support workers in nursing homes, shelters, and hospitals.

These workers face serious health risks every day and have pushed researchers and businesses to develop new tech — while finding ways to apply existing technology — to keep them all safe.

These five technologies are helping keep frontline workers safe and healthy — and they are likely to have major long-term impacts, even after the pandemic has ended.

Contactless and Mobile Payment Technology

Brick-and-mortar retailers expanded available payment options to keep workers safe. Contactless payment options have increased, likely because customers are less comfortable handling cash and using keypads on credit card readers.

Using these methods, customers can simply tap their phone or another smart device on the card reader to complete payment. Cashiers and servers are not required to handle a card or paper money.

The payment methods also make contactless delivery and pick up a little simpler, which can help reduce the number of customers in-store and further help these frontline workers. While it’s not clear if cash and cards spread COVID19, there is strong evidence enclosed spaces like restaurants and grocery stores contribute to the spread of the virus. Cutting down on the time customers spend in-stores and providing options so they never have to come inside can help keep workers safe.

While not popular pre-COVID-19, these offerings may become the new norm for retailers of all kinds, even after the pandemic has ended. Many major retailers have already adopted the tech. There are also signs retailers plan to keep contactless payment and pickup options available.

Wearable Tech

Wearables are worn devices that collect and transfer information. Most are familiar with these devices in the form of fitness-tracking smart wristbands and smartwatches.


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Summer 2020