Undeniably, COVID-19 has changed our world — including how we work. And there’s no going back. The remote workforce will grow and periodic shelter-in-place mandates that temporarily closed offices are likely to become part of our new normal. However, there will always be a need for doing in-person business. So, how, exactly do we do that safely?
We’re not medical experts. However, by all accounts, there are three key elements to our collective health and safety: testing, contact tracing, and continued social distancing.
Technology, and specifically Bluetooth proximity technology used in mobile phones, can help. Today, we announced our COVID app development services to help government entities build contact tracing apps using Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification system. And we’ve also introduced our Safe Distancing App Kit to help businesses reopen offices and factories while encouraging team members to maintain safe distances from one another.
Don’t stand so close to me 🎵
The Safe Distancing App Kit — leveraging widely available low-cost Bluetooth wearables (e.g. bracelets, belt clips, key fobs) — can monitor the proximity between staff and alert individuals when they are too close to one another for an extended period of time. Ultimately, we believe apps built with our kit will encourage social distancing and provide business leaders with information that can help them optimize office space for safety. The Safe Distancing app does not track exposures and is not meant to replace contact tracing solutions from government health agencies. Instead, it’s purpose is to reinforce positive behavior in offices and factories that will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Its features include:
See how you’re distancing
Employees can see how many times they’ve been too close to colleagues — a real-time dashboard shows how they’ve been doing today and for the week.
Get notified when you’ve had too many close contacts
Proactively alert employees when they’ve been too close for some period of time and remind them to keep a safe distance. Time is an important aspect since passing by someone in the hall for a moment does not carry the same risks as standing next to someone at the coffee machine waiting while it brews.
Identify problem spaces
Office managers and people operations can identify common areas where team members tend to gather too closely together.
Maintain your privacy
By default, the Safe Distancing App Kit keeps user information anonymous, protecting employee privacy.
What the Safe Distancing App Kit includes
Designed for medium and large-sized businesses, the Safe Distancing App Kit includes:
- Mobile app source code
- Recommended Bluetooth devices for employees
- QA documentation
- Integration with cloud services (Azure or AWS)
ArcTouch is available to perform app development services to build and launch customized production applications that are branded — and optionally integrated with a company’s internal personnel or office systems.
Why ArcTouch wants to help
We’re in the business of serving businesses — creating custom mobile apps for Fortune 500 companies and also enterprise apps for employees. We realized that if we could provide a tool that helps companies to safely get back to business, that’s something we’d like to do.
Turns out, our 10-year history of building apps for iOS and Android — and leveraging our Bluetooth expertise — made creating a social distancing solution for businesses a natural fit for us.
Bluetooth: We’ve been training for this for a decade
We’ve long been fascinated by using Bluetooth as a means to exchange information between mobile phones and IoT devices in close proximity.
Soon after we started ArcTouch in 2009, we built Beam It!, an app for two people to exchange (or “beam”) contact information to each other via Bluetooth.
For a Salesforce hackathon, we built a solution to maximize the business networking potential of events like Dreamforce. The app used Bluetooth beacons to help identify any nearby people from your contact list, and indicate where, physically, you could find them.
For Tile, we helped build the company’s iOS and Android apps. The apps communicate with the low-power hardware tracker, using Bluetooth to help people find misplaced items.
And recently, we used Bluetooth LE as the core technology to build an app that powers 3M’s Filtrete Smart Air Filter. The app communicates with the BLE sensor in the filter, and alerts you when it’s time to replace it.
This Safe Distancing App Kit is most similar to our work on Tile, in that it uses a low-power hardware device to sense proximity and report back to an app on a mobile phone.
A challenging time for businesses
One of the most remarkable aspects of COVID-19 is the uncertainty it’s created. While health experts continue to learn about it, there’s lots of room for people to debate how we should be responding to it. And that includes how we should get back to business and re-open our offices.
As a business leader myself, I’m grappling with many questions, but perhaps the most important one is, “How do I keep my employees safe?”
We hope the Safe Distancing App Kit can help. We’re planning to use it in our offices. Contact us if you’d like to try it in yours, too.
Originally published by ArcTouch CEO Eric N. Shapiro at https://arctouch.com.