E-solutions key to business continuity amid pandemic
IT develops more than 20 new solutions to enable our work to continue.
The strategic rollout of innovative solutions by Information Technology (IT) has played a pivotal part in maintaining Aramco’s business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under unprecedented circumstances, IT managed to meet business needs in response to the pandemic and social distancing requirements, according to Ahmed M. Al-Shaikh, general manager of IT Infrastructure.
“Information Technology has managed to develop more than 20 new solutions and enhanced seven existing solutions to enable the performance of work remotely and support the health, safety, and security of employees,” Al-Shaikh said.
“The main achievements of IT include expanding access to the company’s intranet to host 55,000 employees working from home; providing electronic control and decision making keys to support COVID-19 response centers; deploying Skype for Business on the electronic devices of employees to enable virtual meetings; enhancing the resilience of the supply chain through virtual procurement and bidding databases; and establishing a mechanism for remotely examining personnel at the company’s operation areas through a smart helmet, leveraging augmented reality technologies,” he said.
All these achievements were in addition to maintaining secure systems and protection from cybersecurity attacks, he added.
Getting the healthy messages out
The increased reliance on technology amid the pandemic enabled a companywide health awareness campaign for employees, contractors, and dependents, according to Sara Al Tamimi, head of the Digital Communication Division in the Corporate Communication Department.
We have used electronic mail and text messages, dedicated electronic pages on the company’s intranet and on the internet, and employed billboards, screens, posters, and supervision and control means to ensure the application of precautionary measures in all company areas.
—Sara Al Tamimi
“The COVID-19 response page included email addresses and telephone numbers of the response team members, in addition to significant electronic links for COVID-19 prevention, Human Resources (HR) links, and links to virtual training programs necessary for COVID-19 prevention, as well as links for preparing workplaces to meet new preventive conditions and establishing a health isolation environment at home,” she said.
“We supported employees and their dependents with a page full of guiding ideas to help them deal with life’s pressure during home isolation.
“We also provided them with information and guidelines on preparing workplaces at home, as well as guidelines for supervisors and employees’ work environments, and the response mechanism in case of employee infection with the virus.”
Health Passport helps keep facilities open
In a major online initiative, the Health Passport application was designed, developed, and launched by HR to ensure the company’s 285 community recreation and services facilities adhere to maximum visitor capacity.
The Health Passport issues automated permits to company employees and their dependents allowing entry into community facilities without crowding. The application has been downloaded by 60,000 users to reserve more than 190,000 safe visits to facilities.
The application was developed in cooperation with the Digital Transformation Department, the Community Services Department, the Emergency Response Taskforce, IT, Information Security, business administration areas, and Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare.
HR will soon expand the application’s services to include retirees and Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare employees eligible to reside in company communities.
In another online initiative, company employees no longer need to wait in a queue to obtain a temporary vehicle sticker thanks to the mySecurity application, developed by the Industrial Security Organization, in cooperation with IT, to support the company’s strategy in combating COVID-19.
The application includes a new service to issue temporary electronic stickers, according to Adel F. Al-Wuhaib, manager of the Industrial Security Support Services Department.
“Company employees can now obtain temporary digital vehicle stickers easily through the mySecurity application or the myHome portal,” Al-Wuhaib said.
“They can submit requests that are electronically and immediately approved,” he said.
“Electronic equipment that has been recently installed at the Industrial Security gates are used to remotely verify vehicle entry permits, which replaces the stickers fastened on vehicle’s windshields.
“Furthermore, the digital sticker’s electronic fingerprint is used to facilitate verification of security data through a direct connection with the Interior Ministry’s National Information Center,” he added.
Meanwhile, visitors will soon no longer need to go to the Visitors Center to complete a registration process with the imminent launch of a digital version of visitor access requests. Digital visitor access permits will be electronically verified at the security gates. Industrial Security Operations is working on launching the initiative in the first quarter of 2021.
The digital access system will mimic airplane boarding passes, with short text messages containing electronic fingerprints sent to visitors that they can use to enter company facilities. Industrial Security personnel will be able to verify visitors electronically by reading the fingerprints with portable devices.
Elsewhere, the company is in the process of deploying facial recognition technology at 30 Aramco facilities across the Kingdom.
The first stage of the project will involve scanning employees’ faces to allow access to Aramco’s restricted facilities, replacing the current procedure of entering secret code numbers. This rollout utilizes a number of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and will enable smart visitor gates, as well as assist real-time and post-incident investigations.
All of these electronic initiatives are in line with the company’s safety and security strategies.