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28 August, 2019 - 10:03 By Tony Quested

Lifeline for lone workers gaining traction

A new web and mobile software platform designed to save the lives of employees in danger from attacks or accidents is gaining increasing traction in the East of England.

The technology is the brainwave of Safepoint, anchored at Norwich Research Park but with teams across Cambridge, Norwich and Bury St Edmunds. Safepoint has launched its lone worker safety solution after almost two years of development.

CEO Callum Coombes tells Business Weekly the venture was born  in November 2017 at the Norwich hackathon Sync the City where the idea won first prize.

The founders were inspired by the heart-breaking story of Robert Geach – an engineer at a water treatment plant who died while servicing a filtration system. Geach slipped and knocked himself unconscious before drowning in a shallow pool of water. It was over four hours before his colleagues had even realised he was missing. 

Coombes says: “Had Robert been found sooner he could still be alive today. There are millions of lone workers like Robert in the UK that are at risk of violence, ill-health and accidents as a result of working alone.”

Safepoint is now live with businesses, from engineers to accountants, and publicly available with a 14-day free trial. Half the team are University of East Anglia graduates.

Coombes told Business Weekly: “Imagine you're an engineer, an estate agent, a social care worker, or even a farmer. Something goes wrong, you get attacked by a client, or trapped under machinery.

“Who knows you're in trouble?  Who knows where you are? Who's coming to help? The alarming fact is for the majority of businesses the answer is nobody.

“Safepoint solves this problem, allowing businesses to ensure the safety of their employees, whilst easily staying compliant with today's health and safety regulations.”

The Safepoint team decided to harness the power of the cloud and modern mobile technology to create a product that could save the lives of lone workers like Robert. 

Safepoint is built on two pillars: a mobile application available on both Android and iOS devices; and a web portal that can be accessed through any modern web browser.

Lone workers use the mobile app to log tasks, signal for help in emergencies and share their safety information, such as their GPS location. The web portal can be used to monitor lone workers, respond to emergencies and make informed safety decisions with real-time data.

Safepoint CEO Callum Coombes
Callum Coombes

Coombes added: “It’s been an incredibly challenging but rewarding journey up to this point. We’ve come a long way since the first prototype was developed at Sync the City in 2017. 

“I remember we stayed up until around 3am each day during the 54-hour competition to throw together the simplest MVP we could! Since then we have rebuilt the platform twice over, once to build a fully-functioning first version and then again to create a truly scalable and reliable product.

“It’s not been an easy road to launch. We’ve worked part-time, almost every evening and weekend and self-funded the business up until April this year! 

“Then this Spring, the University of East Anglia invested in Safepoint to help us scale, which has allowed part of the team to go full-time and for us to really invest in the growth of the platform.

“Launching Safepoint has been amazing. We’ve finally been able to give the platform to a number of businesses that have been providing some brilliant feedback. 

“A couple of these businesses, MIGSOLV 2and ECS Power and Control3, actually contacted us back in 2017 and have stuck with us since then. We are also onboarding further businesses as we grow, from industries ranging from accountants to social care workers.

“It’s exciting times as we reach out to more businesses that we can help. We’ve even put together a number of free resources to help employers stay informed and compliant, such as our policy generator, informational articles, and lone working whitepaper.”

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