The Top Contact Tracing Apps for the Workplace

By Bernhard Mehl
June 17, 2020

With Covid-impact becoming a key component of workplace planning, more and more companies are considering using contract tracing and health tracking apps. Slowly but surely, workplaces are reopening. It’s important for employers to monitor the health of employees in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Technology companies everywhere are building apps to do just that- track the spread. According to one estimate, this could be a multi-billion dollar market. 

The public buy-in is incredibly important to any app's success. In order to effectively monitor and alert users, everyone involved in an interaction needs to have the app downloaded. Additionally, people need to listen. If people are advised to stay home, they need to do so, which is why social support such as grocery delivery has become increasingly important. 

Digital Content Tracing 

The technology used is called digital content tracing and would allow employers to have more control over monitoring the health of employees. With contact tracing, infected people can be monitored and notified of their exposure. Companies have the ability to see who is at high risk for contracting Covid-19, and thus can tell those employees to go home and stay home in order to protect fellow workers. Additionally, quarantine support will be provided to prevent further spread. 

Privacy Concerns 

Questions are still circulating regarding employee safety and legality as well as technology capabilities in terms of users. Privacy violations are also discussed in relation to the apps being created and office health challenges that arise. Most systems say they are designed to maximize individual privacy and state that only authorized people can see sensitive data such as which employees are at-risk individuals. Although this is reassuring, the best model to follow is for the apps/phones to “talk” to each other via bluetooth and not give the employer any access to the stored information. 

Repurposing Technology

Many Covid-19 tracking tools are coming from repurposed technology and systems. Kinexon is a private German technology company that formerly developed sensors that collect data for athletes. They have now developed a new product that uses those same sensors to ensure social distancing and trace infections. By placing a designated sensor on your person, it will alert you of when you're too close to someone by visibly blinking red when it’s too close to another’s sensor. 

Another company, Proxfinity, released a Covid-tracking product called the Rescue Smart Badge. It was originally made to aid in networking at large events, but has been repurposed to help with the virus spread by providing data on person to person interactions.

Most Popular Apps 

Apple and Google announced that they will be working together to achieve widespread contact tracing in an attempt to contain the pandemic. In the future, people (if they have opted in) will be notified by the operating system that they have been exposed. These people will then be directed to download the relevant health app. The idea that people can be notified even if they didn't yet download the app should mark positive progress. When Singapore came out with a similar national contact-tracing app, only 12% of people adopted it. Thus, building the technology directly into the phone operating systems should increase the adoption rate.

Google will distribute the operating system through Google Play services, which should reach the majority of devices and will not require the reliance on carriers who are often slow distributors. The companies said they will stop any system abuse by routing alerts through public health agencies and they will take apart the network when contact tracing is no longer necessary. 

Major Players 

While Apple and Google formed a partnership to develop an app, other companies are creating private apps of their own in order to better control the data. The solutions vary, but share a common goal of alleviating challenges all essential workforces are facing in response to Covid-19 as well as helping business return to normal operations. 

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Pwc

PwC is building its own contact tracing app. Nearly 25% of CFO’s they surveyed said that they intend to look into the technology as an aspect of their strategy for office reopening. PwC’s app will allow authorized personnel (executives and HR) to notify employees who have come in contact with any employee who tested positive for Covid-19. Besides requiring the app internally, PwC will also sell it to clients. 

The app works by using data and signals from individual phones. It can tell how far away people are and how long they are in contact. When the app is downloaded and WiFi and Bluetooth are on, it will constantly run in the background. The info collected is summarized in a dashboard that company executives can use to make decisions about things like office layouts and productivity. 

Envoy Protect 

Envoy Protect focuses on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. Employers can manage who comes to the office by inviting employees back to work digitally, reviewing wellness checks, and approving entry. The sign-in process is touchless to help prevent the further spread of germs. The app also offers a capacity limit feature that eliminates any overcrowding by keeping a constant tally of who is currently on site and who is expected later in the day. 

Density 

Safe, a Density product, was designed to help reopen building quickly using display, analytics, and alerts. The display feature gives employees the data necessary to decide if they want to enter a given space. The analytics feature monitors safety compliance and provides real-time data. Finally, alerts will send out any urgent data or notifications of unsafe headcount levels in a certain space. 

Clear 

CLEAR has been a trusted industry leader for biometric identity and access for 10 years. Health Pass is its new touchless service that monitors employee health status. Members complete real-time health quizzes and upload lab results or links. Administrators can scan their QR code or check their temperature and using all the information, decide whether that individual can enter a venue. 

SaferMe

This app is designed for businesses and unlike other contact tracing apps, does not require bluetooth. The technology alerts users of risks like hazard proximity or exposure through a map feature. Managers can securely analyze data to better understand employee contacts and health status. 

Triax

Proximity Trace by Triax focuses on both giving feedback to a worker about proper social distancing and collecting data about worker interactions for contact tracing. The Main device, the TracTag, attaches to a hardhat or the body. The system keeps a running log of interactions and proximity alerts. 

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.