Take your innovation to the edge: Q&A with Lamin Faye, CEO & Co-Founder, Buddywise

Article
May 5, 2022
Our business model is based on strong partnerships, and the imagination of the worldwide community of developers, creating applications that integrate with Axis products, is what maximizes value for our customers. In this article, we meet Lamin Faye, CEO and Co-Founder of Buddywise, a company determined to make the workplace safer.

Tell us about Buddywise…

Buddywise automates industrial safety monitoring and risk mitigation through computer vision and machine learning – revolutionizing health & safety in the process.

When a serious accident occurs in the workplace, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It generally indicates a much larger problem below the surface in terms of safety levels. The ongoing conversation about “The Iceberg Problem” in the health & safety industry is decades old yet sadly, safety levels haven’t changed dramatically. In 2019, 3,408 fatal accidents at work were reported across the EU. These tragic fatalities number in the low thousands, but they’re the result of billions of unsafe acts.

There is a huge opportunity to detect and address early indicators of safety risks before an incident occurs. Fortunately, with technological advances, we’re now on the precipice of an exciting revolution in workplace safety.

With computer vision monitoring, automated reporting, and intelligent response, Buddywise makes the most of artificial intelligence (AI) to stop preventable incidents, accelerate response time, improve ineffective safety reporting and ultimately, make traditionally hazardous workplaces safer.

The Buddywise system can be used with both existing surveillance and new camera installations to detect common risks. This ranges from poor housekeeping, such as tools left lying around, to non-compliance, including employees not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Real-time alerts are sent to individuals on site via a push notification or SMS if there is an urgent risk to manage.

Our solution also collates data into reports which provide longer-term insights that make managing risks easier, such as flagging the number of near collisions due to forklifts driving in walking lanes. We’re now moving into integrating with more IoT devices to trigger events – enabling beacon lights or alarms to make risk notifications easier to spot for workers who often aren’t looking at a screen.

We bring AI and digitalized intelligence to an analogue world – observing, alerting, and acting to prevent workplace accidents. The possibilities are endless, and the benefits to people on the ground are enormous.

How did Buddywise find out about Axis?

Data privacy and security is front of mind for us. From the start, we wanted to work with a partner based in Europe that understood data privacy challenges, including GDPR compliance.

We already had our eye on Axis Communications, so when we were introduced through mutual acquaintances at AWS, it was a no brainer to join the Axis Developer Community. It was quickly clear that Axis aligned well with Buddywise in its approach to data privacy. Given all the exciting hardware and software innovation taking place at Axis, we also felt Axis was moving in the right direction for our future growth.

Tell us a bit more about your solution and how Axis plays a part?

As our models are becoming increasingly complex, they put a higher demand on the camera so we rely on more powerful processing devices which offer analytics at the edge to ensure greater efficiency. Axis has built up an incredible ecosystem of open, powerful, high-quality cameras, and is constantly enhancing its hardware – with the ARTPEC chip at the foundation. With its latest generation of cameras also featuring a deep learning processing unit (DPLU), we’re able to take advantage of powerful analytics based on deep learning at the edge.

We deployed our application on AXIS Camera Application Platform (ACAP). The release of ACAP version 4 last year made it even easier for us to bridge the gap between edge-, server-, and cloud-based environments. One of the main advantages is that ACAP is an open application which enables easy access to features and easy development. ACAP is compatible with open-source frameworks, such as Tensorflow-lite, and this simplifies the development process. In addition, being able to write applications in Python is very convenient and makes things easier for a wide range of developers.

Additionally, the built-in cyber security features that Axis is bringing to market, like Axis Edge Vault and the Trusted Platform Module, are also essential for realizing the potential of cameras as data gatherers.

Is your application a pure edge application or an edge/cloud solution?

We don’t run all computing at the edge but with Axis, we can use this edge capacity – such as blurring faces before data leaves the camera – while also relying on the cloud where it’s more cost-effective.

What do you see as the biggest advantages/strengths to take your innovation to the edge?

The industry needs to stop limiting its view of cameras to recording devices that enable us to go back in time and see how something took place. New cameras with powerful processing capabilities are sensors which can gather rich metadata, and when combined with systems like AXIS Camera Application Platform (ACAP), they enable data analysis in real time.

This is a game changer. It’s not about looking back at footage but about extracting data from footage to get insights and make decisions. Maximizing edge analytics is a big advantage for those making this switch and using cameras as powerful real-time sensors.

What are the benefits for your customers?

Buddywise helps customers use their existing video surveillance in a smarter way to make hazardous work environments much safer.

With automated risk reporting, customers receive more regular risk reports while simultaneously freeing up time for those who previously had to handle risk reporting manually. In addition to safer sites, our customers can also react immediately if an incident occurs. For example, if a worker is exposed to a gas leak and falls unconscious, it triggers an alert so they can be helped immediately instead of going undiscovered for hours.

With risk monitoring happening in real time, customers also don’t need to wait for months between inspections to understand the current safety situation at their site. They reduce their risk profile – lowering the chances of insurance claims and unwanted downtime.

Importantly, improved on-site safety also boosts team morale. Working in a dangerous environment, and often by yourself, can be stressful. Workers want to know these checks and balances exist.

Where do you see the next exciting opportunity?

  • Within your solution?

I’m excited about the potential opportunity in 5G. When connectivity stops being a bottleneck, we’ll see the full potential of technology realized.

  • Within your business?

The increasing focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria today – particularly from investors – means a poor safety performance is no longer excusable. This is a big opportunity for us. For so long, health & safety has remained much as it ever was but now there is a chance for our technology to help businesses achieve Vision Zero strategies – eliminating fatalities and severe injuries in the workplace.

  • Within your segment?

Innovation in health & safety is booming. While the sector hasn’t traditionally been seen as disruptive, that’s changing. People want work with a purpose. A lot of bright minds are moving into this space, so exciting change lies ahead for our industry as we bring safety out of the analogue age.

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