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May 8, 2020 4 min read

Location-based contact tracing


Location-based contact tracing - Get it up and running in your enterprise in days, not weeks. 

There's a lot of debate about how, as a nation, we can contribute to the control of Covid-19 through contact tracing.

Much of that debate is based on the use of smartphone technologies, especially phone-to-phone Bluetooth contact.

The issues are quite complex, and they raise the following questions:

  • Does the technology work and when will it be available?
  • Will there be enough trust in the government with citizens' locations and details of their private life, to adopt the app?
  • Will that adoption meet privacy and security legal requirements?

This is the option that Australia are pursuing, with their adoption of the Singaporean technology.

The big difference for New Zealand is that there will likely be legislation that every business must keep a register of contacts, staff, visitors, contractors and customers.

So with that in mind, people are only going to be in one of four places:

  1. At home – contact tracing is simple in the bubble.
  2. In an open space – no contact tracing – and phone GPS should be accurate enough.
  3. At a business – who have an obligation to record contacts – and will be the primary source of contacts where social distancing is least likely.
  4. In transit – this is simple enough for private vehicles, but private transport, public transport is a bit trickier. Beacons coulde be placed on buses and trains, and payment cards could also be an option.

In the end, if even 40% of people have the phone-to-phone contact app, there are still too many that will slip through the cracks. Is this the right way to spend taxpayer dollars?

There is an alternative approach - Location Based Contact Recording.

In the media, there's been commentary around the use of QR Codes. The challenge then is that they can create congestion points, which impinges on social distancing. Many businesses are relying on their existing reception technologies, or cobbled-together manual systems. These all create corporate risk around compliance.

So how do large-scale enterprises collect this without creating bottlenecks, choke points and queues that all compromise social distancing?


Beacon Technology Integrated with Optimation SCP

Optimation, through a recent functional upgrade, have adapted their Structured Communication Platform (SCP) to allow location-based contract tracing. Their SCP is a COTS product available in the market today, and can be installed in a new enterprise in less than 10 days.

SCP uses Bluetooth to interact, passively (no action by the user required), to a Beacon (a commercially available technology) that is attached to a Space.

It may record entry and exit, date and time, to a building, an office, a meeting room or even an external open space.

The interaction is recorded directly on the management console stored securely behind the enterprise firewall.

Does it answer the three big questions above?

  1. Does the technology work today?
    COTS Technology – SCP and Beacons are commercially available technology, and the software to connect has existed for more than 18 month

  2. Will people use it?
    An enterprise, in order to comply with contact recording requirements, can make it a mandatory requirement for all staff, and visitors to download and use the smartphone app. The trust comes from the app's integration into the corporate infrastructure. The enterprise will only need to release the data recorded upon request, in response to certain events.

  3. Privacy and security 
    Only the interaction with the place’s beacon is recorded by the system, and is stored (via anonymous secure cloud transport) to the secure corporate infrastructure, There is no sharing of data with another mobile device. The beacon stores no data and SCP architecture is approved by the DIA.


About SCP

SCP is a platform for use by enterprises to enhance their structured communication with staff, or near staff (offline workforce, contractors, students, customers, volunteers), who are working in the community.

It comes with a range of functions that allow an organisation to increase engagement and create operational efficiencies.

The smartphone application, branded and delivered by the enterprise overcomes the growing distrust of email, social media and third party apps as a secure and private communication channel

Key features include:

  • Management console for managing communications to cohorts of people
  • Secure two factor registration
  • Welfare Checking with ability to see history and trends for individuals and cohorts
  • Support Links that are curated for a cohort or individual to ensure quick access to suitable support resources when needed
  • Text Documents that are available on and off-line that contain key personal or corporate information eg BCP call trees, health and safety updates
  • Notifications and reminders on the phone notification system when new information or activity has been received
  • Calendar Appointments for important meetings, with attendance recording
  • Request Approve Workflow for the user
  • Surveys and Forms for complex information and sentiment gathering form the cohort
  • Document Sharing for sensitive documents in an off-line mode
  • Secure Messaging between the console user and the individual, ensuring total privacy (with audit)
  • Support Network can be created by an individual to share their profile and information, securely, with a support network (whānau, spouse, kaumātua, lawyer, friend)
  • Planner for creating regular controlled sessions and increasing attendance
  • GEO Location tagging using in app face photo
  • NEW – Place based Contact Recording
  • System of record Integration to key corporate systems
  • Dashboard / Workbench / Analytics
  • Audit of every interaction within the app, but nothing with the rest of the phone
  • Because SCP was designed for organisations that have a significant number of people in a variety of locations, it's the ideal solution for location-based contract tracing.

Do you need a rapid software solution? Get in touch - we'd love to talk with you about how Optimation can help.