Welcome to my new (hopefully) weekly series, This Week In Backgrounds (TWIB).  I hope to round up all the latest news for and about background screeners, end users and the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

Over the past few weeks a few screening firms have announced their plans to launch criminal monitoring products to the sharing economy; specifically to companies such as Lyft and UberCheckr has developed their product in concert with their largest client Uber, but is sure to roll it out to their numerous clients in similar industries.  According to Checkr’s website they also handle screens for firms such as GrubHub, Postmates, Instacart and Zenefits.  All of these firms can, and should, take advantage of a service such as this.  Today, First Advantage announced a similar offering obviously geared towards similar clients.

While these services have been around for some time, the offerings have been rather expensive and the output was unreliable.  Additionally, there is a myriad of state and federal laws that limit how and when this type of information can be used.  Utilizing tools available today, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced Machine Learning, the products are much better.  There are billions of pieces of information that flow through these systems every day.  The technology is so advanced now that screeners can make sense of it all and provide a useful output.

With such large companies starting to adopt this service, it will certainly trickle down to smaller companies rather quickly.  Customer safety isn’t some luxury that is rarely considered, it’s an expectation.  I’m excited to not only see screening firms innovate, but end users quickly adopting these useful services.

Why now?  As I mentioned earlier, services such as these have been around for a few years, they just weren’t very good.  In fact it was rare that a screening firm would even recommend them due to the regulatory and accuracy concerns.  In today’s ‘on demand’ world we all expect results immediately.  While the Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) already have fantastic screening programs in place, this solidifies their goal of providing an even safer experience.  These products allow end users to be alerted in real time if one of their operators has been convicted or even arrested for a crime, further allowing the firm to oversee the safety of their customers.  Once armed with this information end users must decide how to act, thus begins the regulatory web of decisions.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on that!

Critics of these products are sure to call them Orwellian or even an invasion of privacy.  As screeners and as end users we all have the responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for our people and for our customers.  Our reputation and brands are our most important asset, the quick adoption of these tools shows me that the TNC’s are working hard with their vendors to ensure they are using the best possible tools and the latest technology to take their safety programs to the next level and always be innovating.

These monitoring products are available from several vendors such as Innovative Enterprises, TransUnion and others.  If you’re a screening firm and would like help with implementing these products or even curious about learning more, hit me up!

Talk to everyone soon!