March - April 1998
Commentary by Richard P. Johnson
More Drivers on the Soft Roads
of Our Information Highway
THE FUTURE - Picture yourself in
this future telecommuting
scenario. You're a telecommuting coal miner. You're sitting in the comfort
of your own home with a remote control module, going through the motions
of mining coal in a virtual environment. Miles away, deep in the bowels
of the earth, your robot is exploring, taking samples, drilling and setting
explosives, all at your remote command. You are safe from cave-ins, explosions,
gas poisoning and black lung disease. You're also safe from commuting traffic
accidents. You collect the paycheck; your robot takes all the chances.
You're the new breed of telecommuter.
In our telecommuting future, factories not only turn
out cars, planes,
motorcycles and bicycles, but they also turn out the teleportation equipment
needed to enhance worker safety in hazardous occupations. In fact, an entirely
new industry has evolved to support the new telecommuters. These new telecommuting
folks are in law enforcement, coal mining, toxic and nuclear waste cleanup,
mine sweeping, military jobs and even space outpost construction.
Actually, most working families in this future
own a package of teleportation
equipment in addition to their automobiles. It's a Remotely-Operated Robotic
Device / Base Control Module (RORD-BCM) which allows people to perform
their particular type of work from the safety and security of their own
So what exactly is this RORD-BCM teleportation
equipment? The RORD
part is like a robot that you station at your jobsite to do the work that
you would normally do there yourself. Unlike the conventional robot which
is run by a computer, you function as the brains of the robot. The
RORD does your work onsite while you stay at home and run it by remote
control. With your BCM you can control the motion, action and productivity
of your RORD.
Some of our future teleworkers use a BCM that
requires actually going
through the motions of doing the work in a virtual reality environment.
The output of their activity in the BCM is then transmitted over the information
highway to their counterpart RORD, where identical actions take place.
Audio, video and other sensory information are transmitted back to the
BCM, so the worker has constant feedback on the RORD's activities. (Nifty!
Sign me up for mine-sweeping! - ed.)
This future may not be as far away as it seems.
There have, after
all, been recent successful telerobotics efforts conducted on Mars. It's
only a matter of time before teleportation technology becomes a reality
in the work-a-day world.
THE PRESENT - The Telecommuting
Safety & Health Institute
(TSHI) has a vital present-day mission: to advocate telecommuting as a
means to save lives, reduce injuries and improve health, thereby enhancing
the quality of life for workers and the general public everywhere. By promoting
telecommuting and by getting government agencies to promote telecommuting,
we can make a better world today and in the future.
We want to get workers off the hard roads of
(where every minute of every day people have their bodies terribly mutilated
and die) and onto the soft roads of the information highway.
We'd love to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration run
the headline, "More Telecommuters Wanted!"
In addition to our current letter-writing
campaign informing government
leaders that telecommuting can save lives, we at TSHI are generating a
list of new telecommuter candidates. People in each of these fields have
a great deal of important work to do and a large percentage of it could
be done without going to and from a central office location every day.
Without further ado, here's a sampling from our list.
Nurses. Home health care nurses can do much of their
work from home. Telecommuting tasks include: monitoring patients with telephone
calls, record keeping, filling out patient reports, assessing patient care
plans, consulting with physicians and coworkers, figuring out meds, accessing
and reading up on the latest nursing information via the Internet and professional
journals. Even floor nurses may someday be telecommuting one or
more days per week as management attitudes and technology advance. Eliminating
unnecessary commuting from the already high-stress job of nursing can be good
medicine for the health of the nurses and improve the quality
of care of their patients.
Doctors. Telemedicine has already offered improved
diagnosis and treatment through advanced technology. Today's doctors can
begin paying house calls via advanced telecommunications, monitoring
equipment and the good ole phone. Their ailing patients won't always have
to risk life and limb commuting to and from medical facilities.
Teachers. TeleLearning via the Internet has much
to offer in the way of more effective teaching and more effective learning.
Its safety aspects range from reducing commute trips to providing a learning
environment free from the violence and drugs of today's schools.
Others. Other people who could easily telecommute today
include legislators, legislative staff, allowing our political representatives
to be home and closer to their constituency. Even people working in space
exploration and development could telecommute, thereby reducing risks to
safety and health, while opening up the activity to many qualified individuals
who could not presently travel in space.
We will be presenting information on the TSHI
website in coming months
that elaborates on who should be telecommuting today, how they can accomplish
it, and what safety and health benefits they will reap in the process.
I invite you to visit us anytime. Just take the
soft road and be
a driver on our information highway.
Richard P. Johnson
Safety & Health Benefits Institute
Copyright © 1998 - Richard P. Johnson
Back to Fleming LTD Home Page