Tech Firms Developing Their Own Coronavirus Tracing Systems for Workplaces

Several technology companies reported that they have started developing their own contact tracing systems deploying Bluetooth chips to help prevent coronavirus outbreaks in their offices since many countries across the globe began relaxing lockdowns and resumed their workplaces. Many of them set up technologies that would be accessed through their office Wi-Fi routers and through these technologies, the companies can determine the active cases of virus among employees.

California-based Tech Companies

A California-based Silicon Valley company, Juniper Networks Inc. (Juniper Networks) reported that it had plans to equip a coronavirus tracking device attached to work identification badge holders that have a Bluetooth chip for about 10,000 employees. Through these devices, the company can help to record a worker’s movements and interactions in the office, the vice president of the company, Jeff Aaron said in an interview.

Aaron explains that the system employs Wi-Fi routers and access points from Juniper Network’s unit Mist that will communicate with the Bluetooth chips on the badges. As per the data collected by the system, the company can determine who needs to be tested or not in case an employee tests positive for the virus. He added that Mist, a fast-growing Wi-Fi equipment maker, is now selling its new system to other businesses through its annual subscription of $150 per access point.

As the US government has taken steps to ease lockdown, the state of California started opening up business operations but continued work-from-home policy for the tech companies in the state. California, which has reported more than 86,000 coronavirus cases and 3,500 deaths, has the lowest tallies in the US.

Replacing Old Technology

Aaron reflected that businesses have started spending money on replacing older technology to make their workplaces a safer place from the virus spread by building a new robust app for tracing virus. He added, “They are saying: If this is a reason for me to rip out my old Wi-Fi and put in a Wi-Fi plus BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) solution and support contact tracing use cases, I can definitely get budget for that.”

It was reported that several software companies have announced their projects of building tools during the pandemic to automate workplace contact tracing and help customers avoid disruptions. Among others touting workplace tracking tools, Slovakia-based Symbiosy said the software it produces with the help of installing sensors from technology partner Quuppa, helped to identify about 40 people to test after an employee became infected last month.

Tomas Melisko, the chief of real estate company HB Reavis’ Symbiosy unit, stated, “Manually, we would not even have been able to get that precision,” adding that “And we would need to have sent twice that many people for testing” if solely analyzing building access logs.

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