Contact Tracing Technology: The Role of the smartspace Tool in Promoting Workplace Safety
According to data published by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States of America recorded at the end of September 2020 was 7,168,077, which included 205,372 deaths.
As governments all over the world are easing the lockdown restrictions brought on by the spread of the novel coronavirus, the question on everyone’s mind is: “How safe is the workplace?”
Contact tracing has been in use for many years to combat the spread of communicable diseases and plagues. Though effective, this manual technique of tracing patients is slow and unreliable.
In an attempt to make contact tracing more effective, there is a need to move from the analog method to one leveraging technology. However, this technology must be of exceptional quality, while also being safe for the environment, health, and the general well-being of people in their workplaces.
But, can things ever get back to normal?
With a smart and controlled device-to-device tracing method, it is possible to reduce the risk of personal contact and create a new normal in your workplace and community.
Here is a summary of what this article will cover:
- What is Contact Tracing Technology?
- How Does Contact Tracing Work?
- Why is Digital Contact Tracing Important?
- The Advantages of Using smartspace for Contact Tracing
- Risks Associated with Contact Tracing and How to Avoid Them
- The Way Forward
What is Contact Tracing Technology?
The COVID-19 disease pandemic is creating an unusual need for contact tracing technology across the globe. While we anticipate the end of this pandemic, it is crucial for Environmental Health and Safety officers, as well as directors of operations and human resources of companies to know and understand which contact tracing technology is best for the workplace.
What then is contact tracing technology?
Contact tracing technology is useful for gathering information to facilitate a quick public health response.
It is by far the best way to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and to reopen our economy. This method of contact tracing relies mainly on tracking systems that utilize mobile devices to determine contact between a user and an infected patient.
Since the outbreak of the virus, there have been several digital contact tracing devices, each with their drawbacks. However, it is less labor-intensive, more efficient, reaches more people, and enables a safe working atmosphere.
How Does Contact Tracing Work?
According to Mayo Clinic, infectious diseases expert, Dr. Gregory Poland, the importance of contact tracing in fighting COVID-19 encompasses the following:
“The whole idea, and this is really important in the beginning of an outbreak in order to contain the outbreak, is to understand who’s infected and then in broader and broader rings, trace who might have been exposed ― and therefore who might have been infected. If you can do that quickly and effectively, and efficiently, you can dramatically decrease the impact of an epidemic or pandemic.”
Contact tracing apps work with location data gathered automatically by mobile devices to monitor how people interact in a controlled environment.
Contact tracing is implemented in some areas as part of the efforts to ease the lockdown and reduce social isolation. However, this method is only optimally effective in areas with fewer active COVID-19 transmission cases.
Places with higher levels of COVID-19 transmission cases will need a faster and more efficient approach to curbing the spread of the epidemic.
Why is Contact Tracing Technology Important?
The COVID-19 crisis has swept through the world in a way that no-one ever thought possible. This has affected the way people work as the disease spreads very quickly. Hence, the need for contact tracing.
Conventional contact tracing involves back-tracing patients’ steps to find those who were in contact with the patient over the previous couple of weeks using phone calls and interviews.
This manual method proved quite ineffective as public and private health authorities experienced some difficulty in finding everyone the patient came in close contact with.
Is there a better way to go about contact tracing?
Thankfully, yes! To address the limitations of conventional contact tracing, researchers have established a way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus using contact tracing technology. Various apps and devices have been developed to trace people and reduce the R0 (average number of people infected by a patient).
The use of digital technology significantly enhances traditional or manual methods of contact tracing. As a public health tool, it is easier to use and gives people a sense of safety in the workplace.
According to Louise Ivers (Executive Director of Center for Global Health, Massachusetts General Hospital and lead Senior Medical Advisor on the PACT team), while emphasizing the importance of getting contact tracing right, said that technology can be used to complement contact tracing by “adding to the speed and adding to the scope and allowing us to do contact tracing at a scale that may be very challenging to do at a human level.”
The Advantages of Using smartspace for Contact Tracing
Is there any technological intervention that can make workers feel safe while going about their business?
Thanks to a team of experts (industrial designing engineers, and valley visionaries), you can now feel safe and at ease while at work due to the utilization of the new smartspace for contact tracing.
The smartspace, which uses the latest Silicon Valley technology, works by triggering a warning whenever someone else is closer than 6 feet to another user.
Employers who incorporate this tool in their office space will enjoy the following 9 major benefits even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over:
- Custom app, data repository, and reporting capabilities
SeguroLLC’s smartspace mitigates the risks associated with working in a company by tracking interactions and utilizing data. This helps to ensure that people work together in a seemingly normal environment while staying safe.
It acts as a data repository by downloading the real-time data to the smartspace app. This can help employers and administrators to easily track who has been in contact with whom, and how long this contact lasted within a certain geofenced area.
All this information will be available on the app’s user-friendly dashboard, making it easy to trace contacts and manage risk.
- Communication protocols, Bluetooth, and ultra-wideband
In creating a new normal for the people in your workplace, smartspace uses ultra-wideband technology to notify you when your workers are within 6 feet of each other. This technology is accurate within 4 inches, making it the most effective of any of the devices of its kind.
Additionally, this portable device runs on Bluetooth Low Energy to connect with the app on your iOS or Android phone. This allows you to track the way two phones encounter each other, transmit anonymous identifiers to other nearby devices, and store the data on a log in the app.
The advantage of this Bluetooth protocol is that it has fewer privacy issues an does not use as much battery life as the GPS-based systems.
- Resolution and proximity +/- 3 inches
As mentioned earlier, the device triggers a warning when two users get too close to each other. This works great in controlled communities or business environments.
With a resolution or proximity of +/- 3 inches, this device is by far the best of its kind.
- Embedded hardware and software
The device has both hardware and software components. The hardware component, which is slightly bigger than a credit card, works with software that must be installed on your iOS or Android phone.
This software allows administrators to monitor anyone in their controlled environment who is in possession of the device. All you need to do is keep the device on you.
- No additional hardware, routers, or nodes required
Are you tired of devices that come with a myriad of accessories?
This contact tracing technology is easy for anyone to use without undergoing any special training.
Administrators do not need any additional hardware, routers, or nodes to use this contact tracing tool.
All that is required to generate instant device-to-device tracing for your business is a smartphone, which can be either iOS or Android. Once you download the app, set it up, and turn on your Bluetooth, you are good to go.
- Long battery life
Are you worried that your employees will have to charge their device every hour?
smartspace has taken care of this problem for you. Your workers no longer have to leave in the middle of tasks to charge their phones. With a battery life that lasts up to 2 weeks when fully charged, you can enjoy higher productivity from your workers.
One of the best things about this device is that it is just a bit larger than a credit card and you can wear it without feeling inconvenienced.
This is one of the biggest advantages of this device for people working in the manufacturing industry. Your smartspace is non-invasive and won’t get in the way while your workers are performing their duties.
With this device, your employees can stay productive and safe at the same time.
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be around for a while. Experts believe it would take about two years for scientists to develop a new vaccine that would help treat the virus.
What do I do with the product after the COVID-19 pandemic is over?
smartspace, as a contact tracing device, was not manufactured exclusively for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. No! It has so many other uses, even post-COVID-19. You can use your device for flu traceability in winter, as well as for other traceability purposes.
Therefore, you won’t have to throw your device away when the COVID-19 pandemic is eventually over.
- Safe for the Environment and Human Health
By the Center for Disease Control (CDC) standards, smartspace is safe for both the environment and human health. It reduces environmental waste by not requiring another phone since its app is compatible with all iOS and Android phones.
Challenges Associated with Contact Tracing and How to Avoid Them
Even though contact tracing technology can drastically reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and allow most of the social distancing measures to be relaxed, it comes with some issues, challenges, and concerns. These issues mostly involve privacy and the flexibility of the product design.
Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, “One of the major concerns is who will have access to an individual’s private information, for what purposes, and for how long.”
Although these contact tracing devices reduce risks caused by human error, it could also be a way of encouraging mass surveillance.
To avoid this issue, there should be standards to ensure that contact tracing is carried out responsibly without putting the privacy of people at risk. This should be accomplished easily since technology is amoral.
Also, contact tracing standards should limit the duration of collecting, storing, and sharing people’s data while slowing down the spread of the virus. It is essential to prioritize and protect the privacy of people while keeping them safe.
The approach used should focus on proximity instead of location to ensure that the information of patients, workers, and public health authorities remain confidential.
The flexibility of design:
Different mobile providers need to use the same system while developing contact tracing apps. Having a culturally appropriate design will make it easier to consolidate with the public health goals of any locality.
Final Thoughts on the Technology of Contact Tracing
There is no end in sight to controlling the coronavirus, and a vaccine may not be ready anytime soon. Meanwhile, businesses have to stay afloat and find ways to increase their ROI.
Having a new innovation like SeguroLLC’s smartspace is not limited to use in the healthcare sector alone. The banking, manufacturing, educational, and other fields can also benefit from this new approach to digital contact tracing.
Manufacturing companies that had to shut down because of the outbreak can now feel safe enough to resume business activities without fear of workplace transmission of the virus. Reluctant employees can also benefit from this tool, allowing them to return to a semblance of normalcy at their workplace too.