Wearable Technology to Help With COVID-19

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Robison Wells
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Businesses all over the globe are facing the ever-increasing challenge of keeping their employees safe and complying with safety guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. While many businesses have adopted work-from-home procedures and others have furloughed their employees or shut down completely, essential businesses, including construction, are still operational and finding it more critical than ever to manage the situation. And, as the country at large looks to reopen and get workers back to work, organizations will need solutions in place that can help them operate in the "next normal."

Proximity Trace is designed for workforce visibility and addresses two main areas of concern – Social Distancing and Contact Tracing – to help improve safety on worksites. It utilizes a compact device, called a TraceTag, which is mounted to a hardhat and communicates with other TraceTags within range to detect close contact interactions.

The CDC, ECDC, and NY DOH all cite a minimum of six feet of social distancing as a key effort in flattening the curve and minimizing the spread of COVID-19. The ECDC further classifies by time of exposure with a key threshold of > 15 minutes in a day.

Proximity Trace was designed to provide active feedback in the form of an audible and visual alarm when workers come within close proximity to each other. This feedback serves as a reminder to workers to properly distance on the worksite.

In addition to actively alerting workers who are in close proximity, the tags collect worker interaction data passively. Each TraceTag maintains a log of interactions with other tags as well as the duration of those interactions. That information is stored on the device and transmitted to a cloud dashboard via a few gateways placed at the site.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying who an individual, with a confirmed case of COVID-19, came in contact with over a period of time. Proximity Trace can assist with digital contact tracing efforts to identify individuals who have been in close contact with a confirmed infected worker to help target and prioritize, but not replace traditional mechanisms of confirmation.

Proximity Trace does not collect zone-based worker location on a worksite. Instead, gateways are placed at site entrances and exits as well as high traffic areas. A worker is assigned a TraceTag and the solution is ready to deploy.

Gilbane Building Company, an early adopter of the technology, has already seen its benefits. They have said that speed is essential in dealing with the spread of COVID-19 – the faster you can track contact, the better – and with this new solution, contact tracing data is available in minutes instead of hours or even days.

Proximity Trace can be used on most any type of jobsite but is particularly beneficial at projects looking for ways to maintain safe social distances and can be a catalyst to help get workers and contractors back to work.

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