Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Kerlink and Microshare combine for Covid-19 contact tracing

Steve Rogerson
May 13, 2020



French IoT specialist Kerlink is collaborating with Microshare, a Pennsylvania-based data management company, to deliver a turnkey way of tracing contact proximity in the workplace to help to fight Covid-19.
 
Facing the Covid-19 pandemic, World Health Organisation officials stressed the importance for countries to combine testing, isolation and tracing of new cases to suppress the spread of the virus. Suppression is essential for buying time to develop medicines and vaccines, to manufacture much-needed equipment, and to design ways to prevent the illness spreading.
 
This crisis also reveals that personnel are both the most important and most vulnerable assets of companies and industries, as well as public-service and government agencies. Suppression is thus an especially key challenge during the outbreak and the transition out of confinement phases for all businesses and services.
 
Private and public sector entities are torn between the imperative to follow locally personal hygiene and safety rules strictly and their critical challenge to maintain business continuity, while ensuring the safety of their personnel.
 
There is wide agreement that effective, close monitoring – known as contact tracing – is essential to identify people who came in contact with infected people to guide proactive prevention and to follow up with the contacts identified.
 
Factories, plants, warehouses, construction sites, mining, oil and gas sites, prisons, barracks, schools, hospitals, and health-care and elder-care facilities are many of the environments where smartphones and public apps are not a reliable response to this crisis. Often, people within these facilities and sites either are prohibited from using a smartphone, may not own one or simply refuse to use one. Even those carrying smartphones on a regular basis may have disabled geo-tracking to protect their privacy or deal with limited battery capacity.
 
Microshare and Kerlink have combined their experience in indoor asset tracking within facilities and around ring-fenced properties to deliver cost-effective contact tracing. Microshare’s Universal Contact Tracing offering is powered by Kerlink’s Wanesy Wave scanners, industrial-grade indoor and outdoor Wirnet iSerie LoRaWan gateways and Wanesy Management Center core network and network management tools.
 
This turnkey offering can be deployed in weeks rather than months or years, with no need to design hardware, or install complex networks or intrusive data-management systems. It runs entirely on a network separate from sensitive corporate databases and closes a loophole opened by systems relying on smartphones.
 
Its use is simple, secure and anonymised. Staff are issued simple and inexpensive autonomous Bluetooth-enabled badges, key-rings or wristbands with a unique ID. No personally identifiable information is used and data transmitted and recorded are only based on device user identifier (UID).
 
When devices come close to each other, they scan and record each other’s UID through an encrypted code and regularly upload these UID encounters to a central, secure, searchable and auditable database.
 
Only duly enabled government agencies, corporate-wellness and security officers, facility managers, or other officials responsible for mitigating Covid-19 exposure can then identify the wearer of the device, thanks to its UID, and trace previous movements of people who subsequently test positive or who develop symptoms.
 
Designed to be interoperative with standard interfaces and widely deployed commercial data dashboards, Universal Contact Tracing can ensure end-to-end security, privacy and reliability for the delivery of critical information where it’s needed. The data it produces are secure, GDPR-compliant and delivered through Microshare’s patent-pending rules and sharing engine to only the appropriate, designated people at the right time.
 
"Building on our existing asset zoning solution, which tracks the location of items such as hospital beds and wheelchairs, Kerlink and Microshare developed Fitbit-style wearable Bluetooth devices coupled with a non-invasive long-range network,” said Microshare cofounder and CEO Ron Rock. “They can be used for workplace proximity tracing even where cell phones aren’t allowed. We realised that tracking employees inside a building wasn’t dissimilar to tracking hospital beds.”
 
Stephane Dejean, Kerlink CMO, added: “In this difficult time for companies, health-care facilities, government agencies and all their employees, it is crucial for technology companies to help mitigate the effects of Covid-19. The Kerlink and Microshare solution helps workers to feel safe in their workplace and protect their personal data. It also supports companies’ determination to efficiently and safely get back to business when government officials give them the green light.”
 
More than 120,000 Kerlink installations have been rolled out with more than 330 clients in 69 countries. Based in France, with subsidiaries in the USA, Singapore, India and Japan, Kerlink is a founding and board member of the LoRa Alliance and the uCIFI Alliance.
 
Microshare provides data management for the IoT era. It leverages data across multiple platforms, providing actionable insights with privacy, security, audit and confidentiality so its clients can save money, rationalise strategic spending decisions and create data sharing revenue streams.