VisionID launches social distancing and contact tracing service for businesses

VisionID Ultra Wide Band wristband

Ultra Wide Band devices used to alert employees when they breach social distancing guidelines

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24 July 2020 | 0

VisionID has launched a new social distancing and contact tracing service to help Irish companies get back to work safely. 

The Tipperary-based managed mobility services provider’s latest offering enables organisations to help employees observe correct social distancing and log any infringements.

Through the new service, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, employees are outfitted with their own Ultra Wide Band wristband or lanyard, each with a unique ID Code. The devices emit either an audible or vibrating alert if social distance parameters between two workers are infringed upon.

 

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Breaches are recorded to a secure network, which can be accessed in the event of a concern about COVID-19 on the premises. VisionID’s software provides a historical trace report to determine possible co-worker exposure should a person on site be suspected of/or has tested positive for COVID-19. Fully GDPR compliant, the Contact Tracing Software Portal gives customers the option to keep their data either on their premises or in the cloud.

“This system minimises disruption to the workplace in the event of an employee showing symptoms,” said Kenneth Arthur, chief commercial officer, VisionID, speaking with TechCentral.ie. “As it stands, if an employee shows symptoms, the COVID-19 Compliance Officer will have to go back to all the logs to find out who they spoke to. Our digital process is completely seamless. We can see who the employee interacted with over the last two weeks and isolate any exceptional interactions.”

The devices can be suited to all work environments, be it in an office, restaurant, factory, warehouse or shop floor. “It can be applied anywhere,” said Arthur, “it’s tag-to-tag communication. You don’t need to implement wide infrastructure in a building, you only need a gateway to upload the information. Some customers have put in a three second delay so if you’re passing someone in the corridor, it doesn’t log data or make an audible alert because it’s a meaningless transaction. We only want to log substantial events, these can be two minutes or an hour, but they’re the ones that really matter.”

The crux is that, for the solution to work, company-wide application is essential. “The reality is, if four or five people aren’t taking part, it won’t work. Everyone has to do it.”

The devices are based on Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology, a wireless technology that delivers real time accurate readings as close as 10-20cm. The company has been working with radio-frequency identification (RFID), which UWB is a derivative of, for years.

“When the pandemic began, we asked ourselves is there anything we can do with the technology we are using help support our employees,” said Arthur. “One of the things we’ve been specialising in for years is RFID, which is used for tagging assets. UWB technology is a derivative of that, so it quickly stood out as a solution. We don’t want this to be seen as trying to make a quick buck off of COVID-19, we’ve been in business for the last 20 years. For us, it was vital that we brought a solution that we could stand over.”

As well as providing the hardware and software, VisionID provides full training and support nationwide to ensure seamless adoption of the service and back-up support as required. The cost of the service starts at €3 per employee, per week.

VisionID is aware that many companies are struggling with cash-flow in today’s challenging climate. In response, the company has offered a subscription model to several clients. “In this scenario, we host the software and the client gets the tags. It works out at about €10 per month per employee. We offer a Capex (capital expenditure) and an Opex (operating expenditure) model, so the service can be suited to any business.”

For employers hesitant to make the investment, Arthur is confident in the device’s ability to help minimise disruption: “Can it help you keep you operating your factory floor or your production operating? Absolutely.”

Arthur adds that you cannot put a price on giving employees a sense of security in these uncertain times. “The stats show that you’re 19 times more likely to catch COVID-19 in an indoor environment, and with offices starting to come back now, a lot of employees are nervous. But we’ve found both with our own staff and from proof of concepts we’ve ran, when employees wear the device, it gives them great peace of mind. They’re secure in knowing that they can get on with their work without having to be on alert, and any social awkwardness about telling someone to step back is removed.”

Since announcing the tool on the VisionID website two weeks ago, Arthur said the feedback has been very encouraging. “We feel technologies like ours will help smooth the transition back into the office. The beauty of the solution is the simplicity. It’s something people need. We think over the next 18 to 24 months, the lanyard or the wristband will become like a hardhat; it’s an essential piece of hardware to protect employees and give them peace of mind.”

The team offers a proof of concept service for interested parties to run the devices for a limited time. Visit VisionID.ie for more information or to experience a live demo of the solution.

TechCentral Reporters

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