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Specialists in Logistics & Transport Law - Call 01254 828300

Football shirts are the plumage of the 21st Century

On 25th May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force and less than a month later Neymar stepped out with his Brazilian team mates onto the turf at the Rostov Arena in Russia and faced Switzerland in their first game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Can these seemingly diverse events possibly be connected?

The Brazilian team was be dressed in its distinctive canary yellow strip but underneath, for the first time at a World Cup, each player  also wore a compression vest with a tracking device slotted into a pouch between the shoulder blades. Called Apex, this tiny black computer contains sensors that include GPS to track position, accelerometers to gauge pace, gyroscopes to measure orientation in three dimensions and magnetometers to record the direction of travel.

The device also contains an embedded processor that synthesises the raw data and computes, in real time, performance matrix, such as distance covered, and number of sprints completed. Wearable GPS devices record measurements hundreds of times each second, dissecting and quantifying the physical dimension of sport into its various components from the total distance covered to the number of accelerations, from heart rate to the force of impacts from tackles.

GPS data can be used to prescribe precise training workloads to enhance performance. The Brazilian fitness staff claim that since their players started using GPS wearable devices in 2015 soft tissue injuries have been rare.

During training at the Rio Olympics of 2016 Neymar was told to slow down due to the exceptional number of high intensity sprints registered by his GPS. If he did not it was feared he would get injured. If he had he wouldn’t have been on the pitch to score the winning goal in the final against Germany.

What has this got to do with running PCV’s you might ask? Would you bet against Neymar’s ground-breaking GPS cascading down in price and availability to become an integral feature of a bus drivers standard issue uniform within the next 20 years?

A mere 20 years ago the introduction of CCTV into the cab of a bus was a revolutionary act and it has become the perfect foil for phantom compensation claims. It also vividly illustrates genuine accidents. Last week I watched CCTV of a PCV driver falling asleep at the wheel and driving -at speed – into a head on collision -with zero braking- into another vehicle causing genuine soft tissue injuries more serious than any provided by any on field tackle. Can technology evolve to mitigate this eventuality and if so how would you as an employer manage the data in this brave new world?

GDPR is the topic of the legal moment and came into force on 25 May 2018.  In the unlikely event you have not already implemented GDPR policies call Rafia Ahmed on 01254 828300  who will email the paperwork to you.

Wherever will it end? China is one place where GDPR does not apply and they might be showing us. Companies in China have recently begun using technology to monitor the emotions of their employees. This paints a picture of an Orwellian society where peoples iPhones tell employees to cheer up and stop thinking negatively about their employers. Perhaps more relevant to the legal profession than the PCV industry! But, before dismissing the idea as fantastically totalitarian perhaps far sighted operators might be enthusiastic to monitor the brain waves of – at the very least -their drivers. Buses have developed extensive technological safety features over recent years to the extent that that the weak link in the five billion miles of PCV journeys undertaken within the UK each year is now the driver him/herself.

Chinese scientists can track workers through brain sensors attached to helmets worn by workers. The sensors track the emotions of the wearer and identify dips or variations in brain waves that might indicate stress or negative emotions. By doing so, companies can monitor stress levels in high risk occupations.

The objective is not to eradicate negative emotions, but rather to identify if an employee is too stressed and should take a break. But, more importantly for transport, the device can unceremoniously wake up workers who have dozed off.  If real time technology can avoid just one bus driver falling asleep then it can be just as powerful as Neymar scoring a winning goal.

There is no established framework or set of regulations in China to monitor the use of such technology and this allows companies to freely deploy it and there is an incentive for them to do so. Zhejiang Electric Power reports that company profits have grown by £250,000 since the introduction of the devices in 2014.

Here in the UK we are entering a new era of data protection and given the impending GDPR regulations it is fair to say that a person’s internal thoughts and emotions might just be something considered protected within the GDPR legislation and lawyers will have to apply their – unfettered – legal minds to the age-old question of “how free can consent be when passing from employee to employer?”

The uncensored implementation of mind control helmets might occupy the legal profession in 2038 but just for the time being – and whilst I train my ill-disciplined mind to focus -we at BHJ have focussed upon GDPR and other less neurological but pressing legislative requirements.

One thing is for sure and that is whoever strikes the decisive shot at this year’s World Cup will probably have done so with a computer on his BACK

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