Irish Defence Forces use wearable tech to track Covid-19

Wristband used for amusement park management repurposed for pandemic mitigation
The Defence Forces are currently testing this novel approach to Covid-19 risk management

2 December 2020

Cork software technology firm Digisoft and leisure technology provider Accesso have teamed up with the Irish Defence Forces to introduce a smart wearable device to manage Covid-19 protocols among its troops. 

ProximityBand is a collaboration between Digisoft and Accesso using proven wearable technology developed initially for amusement parks and re-adopted for Covid-19 mitigation purposes. It uses Bluetooth connectivity to identify, measure and track interactions between wearers in a GDPR compliant manner to a secure administrator information hub. The patented wristband also provides social distancing guidance via on-screen and vibration alerts in the workplace.

The Defence Forces are currently testing a novel approach to Covid-19 risk management, including for routine military training and the deployment of troops to Peacekeeping Missions Overseas. 




Initially trialled with members of the 96th Cadet Class in The Curragh who have been deployed to assist the HSE as contact tracers, ProximityBand has been rolled out to overseas units undergoing pre-deployment isolation requirements in both Kilworth Camp and Coolmoney Camp with the 62nd Infantry Group that deployed to UNDOF mission in Syria in October 2020 and the 117th Infantry Battalion recently deployed to UNIFIL in Lebanon. The requirement for isolation and pre-deployment testing is a UN requirement in a bid to curb the potential spread of the virus.

“The goal is to ensure that as a group, we are as close to risk free from Covid-19 as possible as we enter the Mission Area and are fully operational to carry out our peacekeeping mission on arrival,” said Lt Bryan Dwyer, engineer officer with the 117th Battalion. “For the individual user, our soldiers, it provides useful feedback including behaviour modification alerts to maintain a two-metre separation distance during the isolation phase as well as updates on the number of close contacts made during the period of isolation.”

“From the management and administrative side, we have tested a developing technical ability to gather accurate and real time contact tracing information as well as data that will help us better manage our personnel during this isolation phase,” added Brigadier General Brian Cleary, commander of the Defence Forces Joint Task Force on Covid-19. “If we help to successfully prove the concept it may offer a risk mitigation technique as well as avoid knee-jerk over reactions to positive Covid-19 cases. In assisting to trial this technology, we are assisting with innovation, providing a test bed and trying all avenues to mitigate risk.”

Designed to replace manual contact tracing activities in the workplace and with enterprise features including extended battery life that requires no charging by the wearer, durable IP67 form factor and a cloud hosted contact tracing dashboard, ProximityBand is ideally suited for use in industrial and military environments.

Fearghal Kelly, CEO of Digisoft, said: “We are very proud that we have had the opportunity to partner with the Defence Forces on this project and in turn help to manage Covid-19 in the force. This partnership has proved hugely successful for both parties and we look forward to rolling out this technology further.”

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