So here we are, another day into the COVID-19 pandemic but not knowing much more than we have for the past few months. The WHO put out a statement about asymptomatic carriers – then later retracted it. About all we know the U.S. is about to go over the 2 million confirmed case mark, which is at almost 7.2 million globally – and that businesses and individuals are desperate to get back to at least some of their normal activities.
The understanding that we really don’t know when this situation may significantly diminish, combined with a social and economic need to resume routines, has made a clear case for pandemic tech as a way to make certain concessions without compromising public safety.
Touchless temperature scanners, distance monitoring software, UV-C light disinfecting, contact tracing, atomized misting, and much more have all part of potential solutions to help pave the way to broader loosening of restrictions.
Most states have included some form of employee self-reporting as part of their re-opening guidelines. For example, Connecticut’s general business rules include:
In order to help companies more easily accomplish this, several companies have launched employee self-assessment apps. Using these apps, workers are required to answer a few questions about coronavirus symptoms or other relevant details, and then are allowed to return to offices – or not.
Some are more complex than others. CompanyTRAK, for instance, has developed a fairly complex solution that integrates self-declaration, social distancing, contact tracing, and data collection. The company is using patent pending, dual verification technology to trace employees’ paths and contact with other employees through a combination of GPS and BLE Technologies.
For employees that have some of the symptoms but have not tested positive, the solution provides a checklist that can alert employers to changing situations.
CompanyTRAK monitors employee primary and secondary exposure and notify both employers and workers when someone has been in contact with symptomatic or confirmed cases within 14 days, including time and date of the potential exposure. This allows employers to better manage their workforces and initiate additional protocols, and allows other employees to actively monitor their own symptoms.
Employees who have tested positive are asked to acknowledge that, and call an automated voice system to activate their device to better notify others about potential exposure. The company says this also limits the amount of accidental pressing and ensuring exposure notifications are sent out only after a confirmed positive report.
The hope is that the use of advanced technologies will increase awareness and safety across businesses, and ultimately result in all employees being “safe.”
Of course, as with any similar solutions, there are drawbacks. In order to be effective, employees need to provide honest information, but assuming their employers are following appropriate protocols and ensuring there are no negative repercussions (other than not being allowed in the building) to confirming exposure, hopefully that issue will be negligible. Employees also have to agree to the contact tracing component, which some may see as a privacy infringement, and certainly, HR and management groups will need to be able to manage those situations appropriately. The geofencing capability should help, though, as employees will know they are only being tracked within their workplaces.
In addition to helping general businesses, the CompanyTRAK solution can help in other markets as well, including:
- Education: Help bring students and educators back to campuses safely with the ability to track exposure and notify others who may have been impacted.
- Healthcare – Keep staff and patients safer by tracking exposure to infected or exposed patients or equipment, and tracking visitors through the use of temporary guest access to the app.
There’s little question this isn’t what anyone wants – neither employers, employees, healthcare providers, nor governments. But, given the common thinking that we’re nowhere near the end of this pandemic, and there is a very real need to get people back to work and other activities, these kinds of solutions will be necessary to help prevent a second wave that could be even worse that the initial outbreaks.