September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - February 2008

Technology gives us the power of virtual knowledge sharing and global connectivity that breaks the walls of geography and organizations.

2007-2008 ASSE President Michael W. Thompson, CSP

Technology and SH&E Excellence

The makeup of our profession is changing in the face of unprecedented expectations from business, government, communities and other stakeholders. While our profession is about people, property and the environment-and our efforts remain focused on prevention-the changing work environment requires that we all work differently and embrace new methods.

To respond to the growing expectations for SH&E excellence, we must use new technologies that help us anticipate sooner, respond faster and deliver more frequently. As our global profession grows and our body of knowledge, once held by a few, is becoming more widely and rapidly available because of technology. Have we reached a tipping point?

A recent survey conducted by CIO Insight asked CIOs what Web 2.0 applications they use. According to the survey, 54% use video over the web; 49% use wikis; 48% use blogs; 47% use RSS feeds; 39% use podcasts; and 33% use social networking sites. These findings indicate that many in senior management are already using these new technologies-which should encourage broader adoption.

We no longer work in information scarcity mode. Information is available at every turn. We are connected via computer, mobile phone, satellite, PDA, podcasts, RSS, blogs, virtual reality immersive environments, Wikipedia, Internet search engines, social networks, YouTube, telecommuting and more. Today's advanced collaborative environment technologies allow us to exchange ideas and information instantly. We no longer must be in the same room, city or country to collaborate.

Consider the applications of video conferencing, just one of the many technology-based tools available today. Through video conferencing, we can improve communications and decision making, expand knowledge sharing and promote a culture of proactive collaboration.

By doing so, we can help our employers reap many benefits-from reduced travel costs, team decision making based on multidisciplinary collaboration and leveraging of broader expertise, to enhanced context and shared understanding, fewer redundancies, improved safety, better teamwork and increased production.

Technology points the way to solutions that SH&E professionals can use to deliver the right solutions at the right time and in the right sequence. But the way we work is more than technological, it is cultural. ASSE has traditionally organized itself around a chapter model. As we look to the future, members gathering for meetings will continue to be part of the ASSE formula for building our body of knowledge. But technology will continue to change our organizational culture to allow for quicker, more seamless ways to interact.

Exploiting technology in response to global growth and economic change is central to achieving ASSE's vision and mission. Our success in helping members and their employers advance and sustain excellent SH&E performance will be connected to the way we employ technology to deliver services and products that capture and share our collective body of knowledge. Currently, ASSE is applying several technologies to achieve that goal. For example, ASSE's webinars provide fresh, cost-effective avenues for building new knowledge and skills. On its website, ASSE provides an RSS feed that delivers up-to-date SH&E news and related information. The site also gives members access to technical articles, newsletters and an extensive professional network. By continuing to employ these types of technologies, ASSE is helping SH&E professionals reach more people. To build on that success, SH&E professionals must seek ways to proactively adopt technology applications to meet rapidly increasing workplace expectations.

Technology gives us the power of virtual knowledge sharing and global connectivity that breaks the walls of geography and organizations. Consider the possibilities that can be achieved when SH&E professionals exploit new and emerging technology to fully access the wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience that exists across the ASSE organization.

Michael W. Thompson, CSP