Contact Tracing in the Workplace
Contact tracing is an effective method of tracking, monitoring, and
treating infectious diseases like Covid-19 spread by human contact.
Human beings are social animals who engage in regular contact with family members, neighbors, work colleagues, and other people in their vicinity. Contact tracing is a method of locating and identifying people who have been in contact with each other in a set time frame with other parameters like time and distance. The contact can occur in various time durations and physical closeness – a few hours in the same physical space or closer with prolonged skin-to-skin contact- what qualifies as a close contact for a contact tracing system depend on the disease’s nature.
How is contact tracing used for COVID-19 safety?
Covid-19 virus transfers between people through small aerosols in the breath. If a person has Covid-19, they are a source of infection in social and workplace settings. A person can be infectious for up to two days before displaying any symptoms, and some people (asymptomatic) never show signs of being ill. When someone tests positive for Covid-19, it is essential for the contact tracing system to be able to trace every contact (within six feet for fifteen minutes) to alert users of the potential risk of infection. This swift action allows them to catch signs of illness early and take a Covid-19 test to determine if they have been infected. Identifying potential infection sources through effective contact tracing and preventing it from spreading is the most effective way to control and reduce infection levels.
How the UWB-InvisiShield System Works
The UWB-InvisiShield contact tracer system is very easy to install as it consists of tags (worn by the employees) and gateways (distance measurement data collectors) installed in the building. We always recommend a planning session where you send us a site map, and we review and discuss how many gateways may be required to provide a complete coverage of your site. We can then follow up with preliminary testing to find the optimal position for each of the gateways. Depending on monitoring duty cycles, each gateway can track several hundreds of employees up to half a mile inside a building. In such an operational scenario, our recommended approach is to install a few gateways (two to four) for complete wireless coverage and packet reception redundancy.
Our contact tracking dashboard can provide a real-time tracking view as well as contact tracing data analysis, You can specify the collection interval for data transmission – every ten seconds if you are only tracking a few people or two minutes if you are monitoring a crowd. Cloud integration and constant communications mean that you have access to real-time data plus all the reports you need to run a comprehensive contact tracing service with a highly accurate social distancing tool. We offer the choice between a SaaS model where we host the information or an Enterprise model where you provide the infrastructure to host the software to collect and process the tag data.
InvisiShield CT LoRa Gateway 360° View
InvisiShield CT LoRa Gateway Detailed View
InvisiShield Wearable 360° View
Features of our wearable device
• Light and discrete – fits on a lanyard or slips into a pocket, weighing less than 3 oz.
• Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery keeps the wearable device running for up to 60 hours in a normal operating scenario.
• Fast recharging with a USB port.
• Acts as a social distancing reminder with customizable alarms.
• Instant push button checks on battery status for peace of mind.
• Social contacts are logged with accuracy down to within a few inches.
• Customization option for company logo.
The alert levels are adjustable and include lights, a buzzer, and haptic feedback through vibration. Four levels of alert give employees instant feedback on their proximity to other people and the need to put more distance between them.
You can tailor the alerts for discretion – a discrete vibration rather than a loud alarm to take account of some necessary contact during the working day or an audible warning when it is possible for everyone to maintain six feet of space between colleagues.
Compact and easy to wear tag
Immediate sensory proximity warnings
By unique Bluetooth and
About the Contact Tracing Software
The contract tracing facilities in the software is customizable. The system tracks individuals and records their contact time with others when there is six feet or less space between them. You can access the information in real-time or run a report to see a history of previous interactions. The information on individuals is limited to their names.
The contact tracing dashboard allows you to:
• Create reports over a specified date range using a selection of employee names or anonymized Tag ID. This function rapidly produces a detailed contact list.
• Analyze reports to discover areas where social distancing breaks down – congested corridors or individual employees who have too much close contact with others.
• Real-time monitoring to gain a visual appreciation of how employees and visitors move around the building or track contact patterns.
The information provided by our software lets you implement procedures and check effectiveness. It also helps you identify potential issues and take preventative measures – perhaps creating a one-way system in some corridors or staggering shift patterns to increase social distancing and relieve congestion.
The contact tracing dashboard gives real-time information graphically – showing colored bands and the distance between contacts at any moment. The same information is shown in a table naming the employees and specifying their distance from each other. All the data is time-stamped. For contact tracing, you can run a report around a specific employee or a group, and you can set the date and time range to see a complete list of close contacts. The process is quick and gives you an accurate list of close contacts without employees or managers needing to rely on their memories and working patterns.
Places InvisiShield can be used
Contact tracing technology is suitable for any industry that employs people. Most people wear an identity card with a lanyard at work, and upgrading this to an innovative combination of proximity alarm and contact tracing database is straightforward and affordable.
Benefits of the UWB-InvisiShield System
To put together a gateway and tag system, we have thought about complex workplaces’ needs to ensure you get accurate positioning and contact time throughout your premises. The many benefits include:
• Tag to tag ranging happens every second with nearby people – your employees get a rapid customizable alarm to nudge them into keeping social distance.
• The device is lightweight, wearable, and no different than wearing an employee ID tag. – with custom printing, you can create a functioning employee ID with contact tracing.
• Your employees’ information on the system is minimal – enough information to identify and contact them and nothing personal – a list of names are sufficient.
• Easy installation because each gateway covers a wide area, and we’ve fine-tuned our UWB operation to be super-reliable in complex workplaces.
After the current pandemic is less of an immediate issue, your investment in the UWB-InvisiShield system is still beneficial because:
• There is a long list of notifiable diseases that need contract tracing if one of your employees is unfortunate in contracting them.
• Fire safety – both for checking accurate lists of people in the building and helping firefighters pinpoint anyone in need of rescue.
• Security – the system can highlight unauthorized access of sensitive areas on your premises by highlighting their presence in the wrong zones.
• Tracking objects and people through the building – useful for building information about the workflow and utilizing space.
When you can track people and objects with pinpoint accuracy inside your premises, your team will find creative ways to use this information-gathering tool to improve your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does contact tracing work?
The precise process differs between States and countries, but the same principle applies across geographical regions. When a person is diagnosed with or tests positive for Covid-19, a contact tracer follows up on all close contacts to:
• Interview – are they showing any symptoms of having Covid-19?
• Notify - knowing you are at risk from Covid-19 lets you protect others by self-isolating.
• Advise – information about best practices and answering questions about the process.
Close contact for contact tracing is any person who has been within six feet for fifteen minutes in 24 hours. That can be a few minutes spread across the day until they add up to fifteen minutes or more prolonged contact. The critical period is two days before the start of symptoms or the test sample collection for asymptomatic people.
Why is contact tracing in the workplace Important?
Having a safe environment and minimizing exposure to any infectious disease like Covid-19 is an excellent investment in a profitable business and a happy workplace. Plus, employers have a legal obligation to protect their staff from a potentially harmful environment. There is a long list of notifiable diseases (like Cholera and Legionellosis) that involve a need to use contact tracing as a public health matter, and Covid-19 is currently the highest risk.
One infectious employee with Covid-19 can have a detrimental effect on the business operation as well as workplace psychology for other employees. With proactive contacting tracing measures in place, employees can be re-assured that they can remain at work with peace of mind, while the infected person stays in isolation.
A robust, accurate, and reliable employee contact tracing system allows all work contacts to be swiftly identified and notified. No-one wants to see other people suffer from catching harmful diseases and spreading the infection to other people.
Will personal information be recorded during contact tracing setup?
The UWB-InvisiShield-CT is a peer-to-peer proximity tracing system in which only the machine-generated IDs are exchanged during the operation. Name and contact details become relevant only when a positive case occurs within the work place and the company needs to inform the holders of the tags. No-one needs to share their medical history or any other information. Contact tracing is about the need to identify and notify potential victims of Covid-19 exposure so they can take steps to seek medical attention and protect their friends and families, as necessary.
The contact tracing device and the software record the minimum amount of data about individuals for effective Covid-19 contact tracing. The UWB-InvisiShield-CT needs a list of employee names to assign individual tags and identify them on the database.
What demographic information do contract tracers request?
When a medical contact tracer notifies you of your potential exposure to Covid-19 (or any other infectious disease), they will ask for some demographic information because some people are more at risk because of their ethnicity or age.
The State approved contact tracer will ask:
- Confirmation of your name and other names you use – this helps trace your medical records.
- Gender, and if you are a woman – are you are pregnant, and how many months?
- Race, ethnicity, and tribal links because Covid-19 is more harmful to sections of the community.
Other demographic questions vary according to individual State rules, but all these questions aim to assess your risk factors. The medical advice and information offered tailors to your circumstances, and the contact tracer may book you an appointment or a test.
What are the benefits of using contact tracing?
Some States (like California) impose Covid-19 reporting requirement on employers. A robust employee contact tracing system using a wearable contact tracer helps meet these legal requirements a well as the health and social benefits of contact tracing:
- Identifying Covid-19 hotspots in the workplace – allowing deep cleaning and improved social distancing to maintain control.
- Fast tracing of potential exposure means effective quarantining and stops the virus from infecting many more people.
- Heightened awareness and compliance with social distancing measures and preventing the Covid-19 virus from passing unchecked from person to person.
- Minimizing the impact of periods of self-isolation on the workforce to protect job and income security.
- Enhancing your reputation with clients and customers for running a Covid-19 safe operation.
Stopping the Covid-19 virus from spreading means depriving it of contact with potential hosts – barriers like face masks and distance are practical, but it is not possible to exclude all human contact. A robust contact tracing system helps concentrate on minimizing the most problematic contacts during an infectious period. The UWB InvisiShield-CT combines this with a proximity alert that helps maintain a safe distance between employees.
What kind of technology is required to conduct contact tracing?
Technology to monitor contact between individuals includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, UWB, RFID, and various Apps. The technology must assess and record contact between individuals for duration and distance.
A smart tag like the UWB-InvisiShield-contact tracer is more effective because its distance measurement is highly accurate within inches. This device reports the contact tracing data to the integrated cloud/network system at frequent intervals through regular communication with carefully positioned gateways. It can report a measure of distance, time, frequency, and individuals – in a small wearable device.
If individuals test positive, it is straightforward to extract a list of all close contacts in the workplace from information stored in the software monitoring system.
The unique combination of UWB technology and Bluetooth allows accuracy and low power consumption at the same time. A contact tracing device must remain operative for the whole working day without recharging, so there is no gap in protection. Add in software to collect and collate information about people's movement, and you have a powerful system for notifying and informing individuals about any potential Covid-19 exposure.
How to conduct contact tracing?
Most contact tracing is through appointed individuals attached to health boards, but there is a role in community contact tracing in a workplace. Budget constraints mean that health officials are overstretched and take precious time to track down all potential contacts. An effective workplace contact tracing system can quickly identify possible contacts, so action to stop the spread of Covid-19 is prompt and efficient.
Contact tracing can involve an alarm system where potential exposure alerts show on an individual's contact tracing device or involve human conversation. In most States, there is a requirement to notify the health board of individuals with a Covid-19 diagnosis in the workplace together with a contact list – names and contact details. Our software produces the reports for easy compliance with these rules.
Individual workplaces may choose to contact trace and impose a Covid-19 prevention strategy:
- Maintaining strict confidentiality over the name of the original contact, notify all close contacts of potential exposure.
- Advise the individuals to contact their health professional and to isolate following current advice.
Options include asking workers to take a Covid-19 test, but your procedure for dealing with a potential Covid-19 exposure depends on your business risk assessment and procedures. Our system gives you the information to implement your contact tracing procedure successfully.
What is RTLS? (Real Time Location Systems)?
A real time location system lets you see where an individual is on a minute-by-minute basis. You see the target and their location in space – in the same way air traffic controllers track planes and their relationship to each other in the airspace around the control towers.
A combination of tags and gateways allows you to track people and objects to a large (fleets of vehicles making deliveries) or a small (inside a building) scale. The technology involved can be any wireless system: Wi-Fi, UWB, Bluetooth, GPS, and RFID. Our system uses UWB because it is accurate (within centimeters, not meters), reliable, and provides more useful information than other location systems.
Are Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) different from contact tracers?
Real Time Location Systems can be useful for contact tracing if the system is set up to record and log the information collected by a UWB rlts system with the appropriate software.
The main difficulty with using some RTLS systems (GPS) is that they are only accurate to about one meter, so that the potential contact may be missed or included erroneously. Any system that continuously updates the software with geolocation information is a Real Time Location System. A contact tracing system can be a Real Time Location System if the smart device sends data to static gateways as the wearer moves about a building. If the system relies on docking the smart tag to update the system, then the contact tracing is not a real-time location system because the information is only as good as the last data upload.
The UWB-InvisiShield-CT is a real-time system with live updating of contact information at short intervals while your employees go about their day. All updates happen automatically and don't involve any action from your employees other than wearing or carrying the device.
How does UWB technology work? (compared to Bluetooth)
Both UWB and Bluetooth involve using radio signals with a range of up to ten meters. The principle consists of using the UWB devices to bounce radio signals or 'chirps' between UWB devices – this measures distance between the devices. Bluetooth measures the signal strength emitted by other Bluetooth devices, which is not as useful for identifying close contact for accurate proximity tracing.
The information collected by the UWB device must be uploaded to the software to generate contact tracing reports. You need more infrastructure than a simple social distancing alert because you need regular contact with the software.
Why is UWB technology more effective than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?
UWB technology is more effective than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi because:
- UWB uses a higher bandwidth and is faster at communicating with other devices and software.
- Only UWB offers the benefits of reporting distance, position, movement, and duration with accuracy.
- UWB chips are affordable through mass production and small enough to make comfortable wearable devices.
- Additional data security and encryption protect UWB chips from unauthorized access.
- Objects like walls don't block the signal between tags and gateways and are accurate within 3 inches of proximity.
- With our unique combination of UWB and Bluetooth, our tag is energy efficient and does not need recharging as frequently, and there is no downtime during the working day as a result.
Bluetooth systems rely on detecting other devices' signal strength and don't record distance and contact time. Wi-Fi relies on infrastructure and reader and is only accurate to within 3-5 meters. Neither of these technologies offers the pinpoint accuracy and relevant data collection obtainable with UWB technologies.
Connect with an InvisiShield Expert Today
Connect with an InvisiShield Expert Today