As offices and sites reopen to employees, many businesses that I’ve talked to are at least considering contact tracing protocols for their operations, but they often express concerns about how to do so in a way that’s effective and affordable. Speed and precision is paramount for contact tracing and here’s how Mist and their partner, Kontakt.io, is able to help control the virus spread and improve anticontamination plans.
Demystifying contact tracing
Contact tracing represents the first line of defence against further COVID-19 outbreaks. An effective system needs to:
- Provide authorities with relevant, timely data to trace and contain cases of infection
- Accurately track how individuals or objects come into contact with each other
- Easily embed into existing business operations
However, most existing contact trace systems struggle to accomplish these three goals. Some businesses still conduct time and resource consuming manual interviews to trace an entire patient’s journey. More recent digital tracing solutions that rely on Bluetooth® struggle with accuracy indoors, particularly in cluttered or wide open spaces. And the data captured by these systems often lacks the rigour required by authorities, forcing larger-scale investigations that put further pressure on businesses.
A better way to trace
Juniper’s Mist access points and cloud services offers a compelling solution. By using a combination of AI analytics, Wi-Fi, and patented virtual Bluetooth® LE (vBLE), the network can provide accurate location data through signals from devices, personnel tags and equipment. Mist’s microservices cloud architecture makes this possible, giving it the capacity to capture and process far greater amounts of data than traditional on-premise network analytics solutions.
Combining Mist with wearable devices like Kontakt.io’s lanyards and smart badges enables businesses to:
- Map movements of all employees, devices and assets, giving administrators a visual report of an individual’s movement, number of locations visited and time spent at each place
- Trace and determine proximity through device ID by tracking device IDs and cross-mapping them to a location in a building, campus or warehouse
- Take preventive action with Hot Zone Alerts that detect increases of foot traffic or congestion in specific areas, and alert managers or automatically divert those in the area with push notifications – a novel but effective way of enforcing safe distancing measures with minimal manpower
Mist and Kontakt.io work well as either primary or supplementary sources of truth for all kinds of organisations.
For enterprise clients, that means easier and lower-risk compliance with health authorities, as well as greater security and peace of mind for their staff and customers. By enabling faster containment and disinfection, these agile contact tracing solutions can significantly shorten pandemic-related downtime and help businesses rebound faster than they otherwise might. It also offers a peace of mind to employees and visitors.
From reactive to proactive
Solutions like Mist do more than just help businesses manage the most urgent threats; they also empower us to actively reduce the risks of COVID-19 over time. The data tracked by Mist can help identify high-traffic areas and take steps to reduce congestion, like redirecting people or limiting non-essential access to certain areas. With real-time proximity tracking and Bluetooth-based asset visibility capabilities, Mist also helps health authorities trace not just person-to-person contacts, but also objects that a positive case may have handled or worked with – and do so in just minutes instead of days. Of course, that brings up questions around data privacy and security, which is why Mist for its part doesn’t collect or store any personal health information on its cloud. The identification of potentially infected individuals is left to the customer’s business policies and processes.
Installing a solution like Mist and Kontakt.io may require a network infrastructure refresh, like installing Bluetooth beacons or upgrading backhaul bandwidth (apart from, of course, installing the Mist access points themselves). If your customers seem hesitant to take the plunge, a proof of concept can be implemented to demonstrate the viability of the solution. I’d recommend encouraging them with the fact that such solutions will not just help them deal with COVID-19, but also open a whole new range of business benefits – giving them the data to better understand and optimise operations, predict potential breakdowns or risks, and much more.
One upside of this crisis, is that it has reminded us what really matters – the people around us, their wellbeing, and their livelihoods well beyond this season.