Building apps helps make the desktop a touchless experience

The app is “an important piece of technology that helps people feel safe coming back to the office,” said Myrna Coronado-Brookover, senior vice president of asset services at Transwestern, a commercial real estate company, which has helped oversee the introduction of the application. in the building.

Building apps also provide the ability to monitor the use of conference rooms, cafeterias, and parking lots with the goal of improving operations. This data collection is part of a broader move towards “proptech”, an approach to real estate that allows companies to track the number of people in different parts of a building, which can help save money. money on heating, cooling and lighting in unused areas.

But privacy advocates say they are concerned about the collection of workers’ personal data.

Companies have been monitoring employee phone and computer usage for years, but these apps “take employee monitoring to a new level,” said Lorrie Faith Cranor, professor of engineering and public policy at the University. ‘Carnegie Mellon University and director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory.

The apps can cause stress for employees who feel their movements at work are being monitored, she said, particularly if the system flags personal information, such as when employees who don’t work together spend long periods in each other’s desks, or when someone frequently uses the restroom.

Companies need to be transparent about what information they track, how they use it, who will have access to it and why, Dr Cranor said. Privacy practices should differ depending on the types of data collected, she said, with the idea that the more personal the information, the more restricted access should be.

To help mitigate privacy concerns, companies using creative apps should anonymize data whenever possible, said Stevens Institute of Technology professor Paul Rohmeyer. Identifying individuals can be important, for example when tracing contacts or investigating a crime on property, but the system default should not be to identify every employee all the time, did he declare.

Tracking software in building apps should also be limited for other reasons, Dr. Rohmeyer said. Corporate espionage hackers may be able to identify business processes or types of deals going on by tracing who is meeting, for example, or they may be tracking the routines of senior executives.

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