Can Technology Help in Contact Tracing and Social Distancing?

Can Technology Help in Contact Tracing and Social Distancing?

Gov CIO Outlook | Monday, August 31, 2020

In this pandemic, Bluetooth and UWB-based contact tracing solutions can struggle to overcome absorption, reflection, and bandwidth limitations, but WiFi can overcome these limitations.

FREMONT, CA: Pandemic has pushed many industries to shut down or reduce operations. Now that the cities are starting to open certain aspects of society, comprehensive “Test and Trace” methods must be implemented, especially for industrial and commercial spaces. Although many testing methods are scaled successfully, the immediate contact tracing process is manual, tedious, and inefficient.

Difficulties in Bluetooth based solution

Top 10 Govt Tech Startups - 2020Bluetooth-based solutions, a significant limitation is poor indoor positioning accuracy in commercial and industrial spaces, like warehouses, distribution centers, factories, office buildings, hospitals, retail stores, and hotels. These cumulative inefficiencies could result in significant false positives and false negatives in wireless-based contact tracing, potentially causing confusion, anxiety, and disruption.

Benefits of WiFi-based solution

The WiFi-based contact tracing approaches are very promising for several reasons, given the advances in WiFi to overcome the limitations of GPS and Bluetooth-based approaches in order to monitor real-time worker and asset position, occupancy, and movement at sub-meter levels. Another key benefit of the WiFi-based solution is the ability to proactively monitor the workspace in real-time to enable compliance with social distancing rules and accurately identify potential hot spots. This is particularly important in industrial spaces where workers are moving and changing locations frequently. Additionally, all commercial and industrial areas have existing WiFi infrastructures. This is very important as enterprises need to assess the ease of deployment and the total cost of ownership for deploying these solutions.

Lastly, WiFi’s ubiquitous deployment and global standardization allow corporations and organizations to build globally meaningful contact tracing approaches for commercial and industrial spaces. Workers are needed to travel and physically engage with each other across the world.

Therefore, WiFi-enabled wireless contact tracing holds massive potential for effective and scalable contact tracing in indoor industrial and commercial spaces. It can be further improved with other complimentary consumer-level and public-health service initiatives. This will need cooperation between various vital industry stake-holders as we jointly strive to re-open commercial and industrial spaces safely and efficiently.

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