Ron Adams, Vice President Risk Management, Baker Roofing Company
Over the past ten to fifteen years, the industry has been introduced to numerous devices to collect data for the purposes of safety, driving, production scheduling and incident investigations. These devices include but are not limited to cell phones, GPS devices for vehicle monitoring, field safety audit platforms devices, incident/claims investigations, drones, and wearables. The primary driver for the use of these platforms is to collect data, analyze the data for trends, investigate root causes, and to monitor overall project development. While the intent was noble, the outcome is that most companies have megabytes of data stored with few actionable procedures to utilize the data in a productive and defensible way.
The issue that developed from the data that is compiled is the use and storage which creates a track record of activity and trends. Used correctly, this data can help to predict future outcomes and allow companies to prepare for both positive and adverse occurrences. The big question is “What Are You Doing with Your Data?” Based on recent research, most technology users are data rich and report poor.
One of the first examples is the use of GPS devices in vehicles that compile driver behaviors and vehicle maintenance requirements. As an example, if you have 500 units in use and drive three to five million miles annually you are compiling thousands of data points as to overall vehicle outcomes. At this point, you are now in possession of information that can both help and assist your overall efficiencies or you are compiling a trove of information that could potentially be used against you in a legal matter. For instance, if you have a driver that has historically low driving scores and poor driving behaviors and you have not taken a proactive approach to corrective behaviors, you have set you and your company up for a disastrous outcome should an at-fault accident occur.
In the case of worksite safety, if you have been collecting safety audits and production data and once again have not created methods and means to correct unsafe environments and activities, your lack of actions can place yourself in a defensive position or one that would be hard to produce an acceptable outcome. For those of you who must deal with workers compensation cases and or OSHA compliance audits, you are more than aware of the need for proper documentation, i.e., field safety audits, safety policies and procedures, accident reviews, and training and proactive procedures that prevent future events. Should you be involved in cases that require you to both understand and be proactive in making necessary changes that could have prevented the adverse outcome, with the use of the stored Big Data, you have set yourself up for a long and expensive set of events that in most cases do not have a positive outcome to you as the defendant.
The question now is - how does technology and data affect the challenges of legal outcomes? Plaintiff law firms were, and I repeat were, slow to engage Big Data, however they are now fully engaged in the use. In recent years the legal profession has implemented technology-assisted reviews (TAR) as their first major use of AI and big data analytics. They use technological solutions to organize, analyze, and search large, diverse databases to determine patterns and outcomes that support their cases. Studies have shown that TAR improves efficiency in documentation review time by fifty-fold compared to human reviews. This technology now plays a critical role. Data gets created, records produced, and details of events are logged, providing a wide view of the outcomes that are being sought in cases of legal liability.
“Every piece of data that you are creating is developing your footprint of how you collect, analyze, and develop corrective actions to behaviors.”
Once again, Big Data analytics can be used to reveal pre-existing ignored patterns by using analytical understanding and predetermined conclusions to support plaintiff’s counsel basis of a case. Without question, attorneys are utilizing Big Data analytics to reach convictions that are relevant and related to the data reviewed, seeking a just verdict.
The prevalence of technology and the widespread use of digital tools and gadgets, and solutions have left their mark on all industries and sectors. At the end of the day, User Beware. Every piece of data that you are creating is developing your footprint of how you collect, analyze, and develop corrective actions to behaviors. Left unchecked you are opening yourself to a legal system that has completely engaged the use of Big Data to both prosecute and defend both simple and complex cases of liability.