Reopening a business in the middle of a global pandemic is no easy feat. It requires a complete reimagining of how we work, especially for labor-intensive organizations that are unable to have employees work remotely. Physical and technical solutions are needed to detect, monitor, and prevent potential cases of COVID-19.
As part of that, many companies are evaluating how to implement localized contact tracing – processes, supported by technology, to track employees as they enter and exit the workplace every day and have a clear map for isolation and quarantine if someone does start to exhibit symptoms or tests positive. But companies are understandably wary about the privacy, data security, and scalability of this type of technology. Can a mobile app safely capture and store information at scale? Let’s take a closer look at what is entailed and how to evaluate these factors when choosing a contact tracing solution.
How Contact Tracing for the Workplace Operates
To be clear, we’re discussing localized contact tracing for individual business locations – warehouses, storefronts, schools, and factories. Largescale contact tracing sponsored by the government is an entirely different animal that many states and municipalities are still struggling to figure out and implement.
At a smaller scale, though, contact tracing can effectively guide HR and EHS response within an organization if there is an outbreak. It does this by:
- Automatically logging contact between workers who are in close proximity to one another. By using the GPS in mobile devices, contact tracing apps can build a map of who engaged with an individual over a set period of time if that individual becomes sick.
- Screening and site entry support help to capture and identify if someone is feeling under the weather, had a fever when attempting to come into work, or has recently been exposed to someone who is ill. All of this data provides proactive information you can use to get ahead of potential issues.
This technology exists and can be implemented quickly to help support your return-to-work efforts, but what about the elephant in the room? How is this data secured?
Handling Employee Privacy and Data Security
While privacy concerns are valid, we live in a time when many businesses have been forced to confront these issues head-on. The European GDPR and California’s CCPA have put in place strict privacy regulations around the capture and storage of user information. The result is a savvy approach to these tools that actively protects user information, and whenever possible, avoids capturing data that isn’t needed.
In the case of geolocation data, individuals are not tracked by name, but by proximity. The system is designed to log when two workers come into contact with one another, and not necessarily everywhere that employee goes while in the workplace. Data that is captured by contact tracing applications – such as temperature reports and self-assessments – is encrypted, and employees are afforded the opportunity to opt-out of certain data capture and storage when necessary. Consider these applications a supplemental tool to existing keycard and access tools, providing a clear map of how individuals interact with one another only while in the workplace.
Scalability in Contact Tracing
For a system to be effective in a closed system it needs to be scale to fully cover everyone in that system rapidly. From pilot to full implementation, the technology needs to be nimble enough to work at scale from day one.
For this to work, it needs to be compatible with all mobile device types, easy to install for users and offer central management by system administrators to ensure minimal effort or onboarding and support. The more that can be automated, the better. Setting up a new workspace should take only a few minutes and web-based monitoring should be implemented to easily evaluate site entry and exit protocols and respond to potential points of infection in minutes or hours, not days.
Finding the Right Contact Tracing Solution for Your Organization
In evaluating a contact tracing solution for your workplace, assess how it handles the three most important components of such a technology – its approach to worker privacy through compliance to key regulations, its ability to scale to meet the demands of large organizations rapidly, and a commitment to data security, backed by independent verification by third-party organizations like Amazon.
Andonix has been working with labor-intensive organizations for years to provide such solutions, and thousands of frontline-workers have started leveraging Safely Pass in their own workplaces. Learn more about how Safely Pass addresses key concerns and is designed for scale here: