Blackline Safety

Blackline Safety Develops Industrial Contact-Tracing Solution in Just 6 Weeks on AWS


Blackline Safety, based in Calgary, Canada, is a leader in safety monitoring and gas detection technology with customers in more than 100 countries. In 2017, Blackline launched its G7 portfolio of wearable, direct-to-cloud solutions with integrated cellular and satellite connectivity.

Blackline’s devices continuously stream safety and location data from the field, over the air, and directly to the Blackline Safety Cloud. With over 100 billion data points reported to date, this data empowers real-time emergency response, evacuation management, productivity assessment, and decision making. “Our promise is to help ensure every worker can get their job done efficiently and return home safely each day,” said John Moura, director of software development and operations at Blackline Safety.

G7 wearable, direct-to-cloud solutions

By relying on AWS cloud-native services, we can capture and analyze data at any scale, ultimately helping our clients keep workers safe and productive.”

Barry Moore
Vice President of Product Development, Blackline

Agile Analytics on AWS

In addition to its rugged and intrinsically safe G7 wearable and area monitoring solutions, Blackline delivers a world-leading analytics platform for industrial enterprises—Blackline Analytics. Powered by data collected and streamed from G7 units in the field, the analytics platform processes data in real time and analyzes it to identify optimization opportunities and safety risks, empowering businesses to address them before they become hazardous. Blackline Analytics also allows teams to investigate and identify performance improvements and gain other valuable insights to help them operate more proactively and efficiently.

Blackline uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to transform the way it manages data to support its long-term software strategies. “More data enables us to discover more insights and offer more value,” said Barry Moore, vice president of product development at Blackline Safety.

“We are aiming for a broader offering of services and features including event data, alerts data, gas readings, and usage. By relying on AWS cloud-native services, we can capture and analyze data at any scale, ultimately helping our clients keep workers safe and productive in many ways.”

Rapid Deployment to Meet an Urgent Need

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Blackline Safety saw an opportunity to help its customers adapt to the new and ever-changing challenges brought about by the global crisis.

“We recognized that we could leverage some of our existing capabilities to build an industrial contact-tracing solution and deliver it to our customers quickly to help them limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout their teams,” said Moura. “For many of our enterprise clients, their workforce is unable to bring a smartphone onto the site. This required an industrial contract-tracing solution to support business sustainability.” The requirements of this solution meant increasing the reporting interval of G7 devices by a factor of 60, also factoring in the need to support future growth in deployed G7 wearables. Because the company had previously migrated its software platforms to AWS, it had ready access to a scalable platform to support an agile approach.

Deployed in only 6 weeks from conception to production, Blackline’s industrial contact-tracing report in Blackline Analytics delivers the comprehensive tools that businesses need to address COVID-19 exposure risks among their workforce to ensure sustainable operations. Should a worker test positive or become symptomatic, the business can instantly investigate close contact between the worker’s G7 wearable and those of other employees, as well as when those contacts occurred. This approach supports targeted isolation and testing rather than large-scale shutdowns of essential workplaces. With proximity measured in 10-second intervals, the close contact report helps businesses enforce their safe back-to-work policies and respond quickly should a potential exposure occur.

Partnering to Transform the Digital Workplace

The launch of its G7 cloud-connected safety wearables was a catalyst contributing to Blackline’s 500 percent growth over 5 years. To support this trajectory and help implement new capabilities like contact tracing, Blackline Safety turned to Onica, a Rackspace Technology company, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and an AWS Managed Service Provider. With a team of over 400 certified solutions architects, including a dedicated Canadian solutions team, Onica helps increase the volume and velocity of available data, thus enabling more advanced data analysis to support architectural evolution.

Adam Chandani, director of sales at Onica, said, “We have worked with Blackline since its initial cloud migration to AWS, and we’re excited to help the company adopt a new, event-driven approach to support its contact-tracing initiatives.”

Onica, an AWS partner that excels in leveraging cloud capabilities to optimize business efficiency and output, built data ingestion and storage systems using native AWS services to support the scale and agility required by Blackline. The system it developed uses Amazon Kinesis for high-speed streaming data ingestion from G7 devices, with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) serving as a data lake that is both versatile and low-cost. It also relies on AWS Glue, a serverless data preparation service, to normalize the data lake.

As part of the solution, Amazon Kinesis sends a subset of data to Amazon EMR, which analyzes and enriches the data before moving it to a data warehouse built on Amazon Redshift. From there, it can be rapidly queried, visualized, and reported on. In addition, for building and training machine learning models, Blackline takes advantage of Amazon SageMaker. Using a data lake pattern on Amazon S3 provides Blackline with maximum flexibility in the types of data it can capture and the tools it can use for analysis.

Together, Blackline Safety and Onica are proud to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic using technology and data. “With the speed of the unfolding crisis, moving fast to build a solution for our customers was essential,” concludes Moura. “It’s a great feeling to know we helped protect workers with a solution deployed in just 6 weeks—something we couldn’t have done without the help of Onica and the scale and agility of AWS.”

About Blackline Safety

Blackline provides wearable safety technology, personal and area gas monitoring, cloud-connected software, and data analytics to meet demanding safety challenges and increase the productivity of organizations in more than 100 countries.

Benefits of AWS

  • Deployed solution in 6 weeks
  • Enabled COVID-19 contact tracing
  • Supported a 60x data increase

AWS Services Used

Amazon Redshift

Amazon Redshift gives you the best of high performance data warehouses with the unlimited flexibility and scalability of data lake storage.

Amazon Simple Storage Service

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

Amazon EMR

Amazon EMR is the industry leading cloud-native big data platform, allowing teams to process vast amounts of data quickly, and cost-effectively at scale.

Amazon Kinesis Video Streams

Amazon Kinesis Video Streams makes it easy to securely stream video from connected devices to AWS for analytics, machine learning (ML), playback, and other processing.

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