Friend of the Sea turns Coronavirus into an opportunity and launches innovative Sustainable Augmented Reality Audits.


“Onsite audits are unsustainable, dangerous for auditors and unreliable. Only sustainable, video recorded and blockchained audits will be deemed acceptable and reliable.”

Friend of the Sea’s headquarters is in central Milan, Lombardy. Since the outbreak three weeks ago, Paolo Bray, the NGO’s founder and director, concerned about their health and safety, requested all employees to carry out their tasks by means of smart working, even though this was not yet mandatory in Italy, by law.

Friend of the Sea project and the World Sustainability Organization [(WSO), the NGO which launched also the Friend of the Earth certification standard] are already carrying out their activities 100% online, so the recent switch to remote working came naturally.” explains Bray “Over the past months and years we have undertaken a number of initiatives to move all our activity online. We have held several webinars (instead of onsite events); we launched the Sustainable Marketplace online platform (instead of onsite One to One Days). We have also stopped since many years our participation to the major trade shows: our and webistes are our 24/365 booths and SEO investment allowed them to be more performing than all alternative standards’ websites. We are not meeting potentially interested companies in person any more: we inform them that, according to our policy, we only hold online meetings.”

The Coronavirus outbreak experience led us to introduce an additional major innovation, perfectly matching our online strategy. We realized that it does not make sense anymore to carry out onsite audits. They are unsustainable, dangerous and unreliable. They imply days of global traveling to carry out few hours of in factory audit, which could be carried out more effectively with available remote video recording platforms. Old style factory audits” comments Bray “are dangerous for auditors’ health and safety. In some cases they are carried out at sites with live animals, with risk of infection. Last but not least, onsite audits potentially expose auditors to situations where integrity is compromised and may result in subjective conclusions. Only a full blockchained video recording of the audit can represent undisputable evidence of compliance.”

Friend of the Sea and the WSO have launched a new audit format: the Sustainable Augmented Reality Audit (SARA) which, according to Bray, will become the future global audit procedure. SARA allows the qualified auditor to carry the onsite inspection from a control panel commanding remote ‘eyes’ and recording a complete video of the audit, following a strict inspection procedure. The video and complete audit report are then saved on Blockchain to prevent any possible editing.

Friend of the Sea requests all future audits to be fully video recorded and saved on Blockchain following the Sustainable Augmented Reality Audit procedure. “This way we are already saving tons of emissions, improving auditors’ health and safety and providing consumers with verifiable audits.” Concludes Bray “Companies have reacted positively as they understand the value of SARA’s audits, which allow them to optimize time and costs, while greatly increasing certification credibility.

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