Back-Tracing and Protecting Workers from COVID-19 Using LoRaWAN®

Actility
Illustration: © IoT For All

As the second wave of COVID-19 is ramps-up, we must take severe protection measures to care for ourselves and the people around us. This not only applies to our family members and friends, but also to those we work with.

Workers are an organization’s most valuable asset; therefore, proximity policies must be enforced in enterprises  to help prevent Coronavirus from spreading and comply with mandatory safety measures. This is crucial to keep a healthy work environment and to avoid costly temporary shutdowns.

How Is Proximity Detection Used to Control Virus Propagation?

COVID-19 sanitary policies focus on two main goals: enforcement of distancing regulations, and rapid and immediate identification of contamination clusters in case of any confirmed infections.

Wearable devices, conveniently packaged as ID Badge holders connected to LoRaWAN connectivity have been designed to help ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines while on a job site or at a workplace. This is especially ideal where essential work might need to continue despite the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, but where it can also be tricky to maintain a proper distance between workers without constant reminders.

The badge compliance solution protects workers by ensuring secure social distancing. This solution also protects the continuity of corporate operations and by avoiding a costly shutdown, provides instant ROI. Temporary business shutdowns are necessary when companies aren’t able to trace contacts. If precaution operations need to stop, they do so until each worker has been tested and provided with negative results. This tends to extend to a full week for each case and causes significant losses and unpredictable delivery delays. 

Credit: Actility

Digital contact tracing is achieved by connected badges that report every contact to a central sanitary policy management system where they are saved for two weeks. When a Coronavirus infection is detected, instantaneous back-tracing identifies only those workers who have been in close contact with the infected person. Testing is limited to the exposed cluster only which minimizes disruption to operations.

Credit: Actility

In addition, several studies have shown that rapid identification of a cluster is essential to prevent propagation, as anyone in an infected cluster may also start to propagate the virus. With instant back-tracing, propagation can be under control even with a 60-70 percent success rate in effectively isolating compromised subjects.

In order to limit the number of potential contacts, the solution also supports zoning policies. This may be organized as distinct work zones, helping workers remain within their assigned area by audio notification, or by organizing shifts. The system can optionally inform management if workers repeatedly violate such zoning policies.

Credit: Actility

Compliance and enforcement of maximum density policies can be implemented through this solution by audio warning when the maximum density of workers is reached in a shared area. The solution is also capable of optimizing sanitation of shared assets by analyzing usage in real-time and ensuring compliance while triggering cleaning only when needed.

How Does LoRaWAN® Technology Make It Possible?

LoRaWAN® is the Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology enabling this digital sanitary policy enforcement and traceability solution. LoRaWAN® is a global communication standard promoted by the LoRa Alliance. It allows long-range wireless communication at a low data rate, reducing power and cost for transmission, and targeting key IoT requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility, and localization services.

In the context of this use case, the key features of LoRaWAN are its support for macro-diversity (i.e. within a building all antennas, indoor and outdoor, collaborate to create seamless coverage even for mobile assets). Unlike mesh networks that need to self-optimize for a given asset location and therefore cannot connect mobile devices, the LoRaWAN badges work indoors and outdoors. 

If additional antennas need to be installed to ensure full coverage of underground and other hard to reach areas, no configuration or radio planning is needed, the platform automatically reorganizes the network to leverage all available antennas and increase coverage and capacity.

This makes LoRaWAN® the ideal technology for proximity and contact back-tracing solutions, as it is easy to install and configure, requires few gateways due to long-range and excellent indoor penetration of sub-GHz spectrum, scales easily, and works indoor & outdoor for fixed and mobile devices.

Author
Actility
Actility
Actility is a world leader in Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) industrial-grade connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things. Actility provides its ThingPark™ platform and network technology to deploy, operate and maintain public and priv...
Actility is a world leader in Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) industrial-grade connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things. Actility provides its ThingPark™ platform and network technology to deploy, operate and maintain public and priv...