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How Safeteams’ tracing system works using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology is a low power wireless communication technology that has been the foundation for data transmission. More and more companies today are using this technology for contact tracing to ensure workers safety. In this article, we unpack how the tech actually works, identify potential use cases and limitations.

 

BLE technology avoids interference from other wireless devices and is known for its low power consumption. BLE is the main source of technology used with contact tracing devices due to its low cost, reliable network and wide communication range. The transmission process is fairly simple and can be dissected as the following:

 

First, tags are installed inside rooms and registered to virtual zones by the Safeteams server. Tags continuously broadcast their unique identifier (ID) during the day and the clips listen for all tag IDs in their range. The clips then sort the IDs based on their BLE signal strength, frequency and last time heard. Periodically, the clips send their estimated closest tags and the servers pick the one they are locking in based on our «algorithm». Finally, the Safeteams server will register the clips inside the zone the tag belongs to.

tracking_diagram-01

BLE Use Cases

The transmission process is essential for the tracing features to function properly and the robustness of the BLE system contributes to the indisputable execution of the following features: 

 

contact tracing

Contact tracing

Access accurate data and record employee interactions to quicken the identification process. Isolate individuals that have been exposed to a person 

who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the timeframe in 

which the diagnosed individual was infectious. With real time data, companies will be able to act faster and recover quickly in the unfortunate case of an employee catching COVID-19. This proactive method is being used as an added safety layer for all employees and their families.

 

 

Zone tracing

Zone tracing

Zone tracing allows you to separate specific areas of the plant/office to better monitor foot traffic and lower contagion risks.  After assessing your floor plan, our team will determine the equipment requirements for each zone, which is scalable to all sizes, to ensure good reception of the data and quick deployment. With zone tracing capabilities, your business can make data-driven decisions on which areas to disinfect and avoid shutting down the entire facility.

 

 

Social distancing

Social distancing

Social distancing can also be reinforced by using Safeteams’ clips. When two co-workers are within close range from one another, a red light will go off to alert the individuals. The clips listen and broadcast their presence around to find other clips. When two clips are closer than 2m (6 ft), both clips will start blinking red until the distance is restored to a minimum of 2m (allow 10 to 20 seconds before the clip flashes).

 

 

contagion analytics

Contagion prevention

Once the information is collected and stored on the cloud, it is possible to access real-time data to quickly draw hazardous zones and generate customized reports in order to mitigate contagion risks. The Safeteams portal allows the visualization of the network of employee interactions and will draw easy-to-understand visuals to make proactive decisions to better protect their employees.

 

Potential challenges

Bluetooth allows for passive tracking, which shows real employee’s behavior, but can face some challenges when it comes to precision. These challenges can be explained by the following:

 

heatmap

Density of employees

Bluetooth waves can penetrate through multiple materials, but the biggest

“stopper” is water. Because the human body is composed of 60% of water, a high density of attendees in one room or zone can limit the preciseness of the tracking.

 

bluetooth overlap

Bluetooth “noise”

Certain types of hardware emit a lot of Bluetooth noise which can “blur” our

mesh network. Smartphones, tablets, headphones, and smartwatches are

some examples of those types of wearables. Note that wifi does not “blur”

our network.

 

 

zone_overlaping

Zone overlapping

Because we’re dealing with wireless transmission, it is impossible to

eliminate the potential of overlapping zones. Even with our directional tags,

it is always possible that a wearable is identified in a zone very close to

another. Ideally, the distance between zones needs to be large enough to avoid this type of situation.

 

If you have any questions on how BLE contact tracing works to help keep your business safe and open, reach out to us!

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