In many jurisdictions, the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has overwhelmed manual contact tracing programs. In September 2020 the New South Wales Government Contact Tracing program in Australia was hailed as the Gold Standard internationally, by interviewing 100% of cases with 1 day of a positive test. As of August 2021, that number has dropped to 76% and it means that more positive cases remain in the community while infected. Quite simply, manual contact tracing processes can’t scale to meet rapidly accelerating Delta case numbers.
The emergence of the Delta variant is now forcing companies of every size to reevaluate digital contact tracing solutions to stay open and meet their legal obligations to protect their workers health. This article describes the lessons RightCrowd has learned in partnering with its customers to get people back in the workplace safely.
Delta Changed the Game for Contact Tracing
In early 2020 the first smartphone-based digital contact tracing apps were released to fight the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Across the industry, digital contact tracing has many definitions, including smartphone-based applications, QR code-based systems and a range of wearable devices (badges, cards, wristbands, watches etc).
Over the course of 2020/21, RightCrowd has worked with global resources giants, Wall Street financial services leaders, US Manufacturing giants and Government agencies to implement its unique Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wearable contact tracing technologies to record close contacts between people. The resulting list of contacts allows local health authorities, outsourced contact tracers and companies to notify people they have been exposed to a COVID-19 infected person faster.
Digital Contact Tracing Twice as Effective
As part of a proof of concept, RightCrowd worked with a US Pharmaceutical leader to compare the results of manual vs. digital contact tracing. Both companies were surprised to see that digital contact tracing was twice as effective in identifying close contacts than manual contact tracing processes. This result can be attributed to simple human recall errors, where people cannot remember every person they interacted with each day.
With Delta being transmissible through casual contact, the Alpha strain rule book has been thrown out the window. No longer can companies rely on manual contact tracing interviews to protect people and keep critical operations open.
Identify and Mitigate COVID-19 Risks
At the time of implementation, New Zealand was COVID free, yet the New Zealand Department of Corrections ordered 6,000 RightCrowd Contact Tracing badgeholders for staff, contractors and visitors to use for contact tracing in its 18 prisons.
General Manager of operational delivery Brigid Kean said ‘cellphones were a contraband item in prisons, which meant its staff, contractors and visitors weren’t able to use the (cellphone-based) Covid Tracer App.
Prior to implementing RightCrowd, New Zealand Corrections had been using paper-based records which were then entered into a spreadsheet, which had been a slow, manual process with significant room for error.
New Zealand Corrections identified COVID-19 outbreaks as a critical operational risk, like many organizations globally, and implemented the solution to get ahead of the curve.
Protect Safety to Protect Operations
The manufacturing industry globally has seen high uptake of digital contract tracing solutions. Often highly skilled labor work in close proximity for long periods with obvious safety risks. Manufacturers also identified that the impact of a production shutdown can run into the millions of dollars daily.
RightCrowd is working with a number of major global manufacturers, who identified their COVID-19 risks very early in the pandemic and sought solutions to mitigate their critical safety, operational, contractual, and reputational risks.
A leading client found that if it protected its people first, through an appropriate set of COVID-19 safety measures that included digital contact tracing, it could better mitigate its COVID risks at a lower cost.
Rule of Thirds
Very early in the pandemic one of our global Technology clients identified that the Rule of Thirds would apply to workforce access management. This meant that 1/3 of their employees would continue to come into the workplace full-time, 1/3 would work from home permanently and 1/3 would require hybrid access, where come infrequently, but not every day. This approach helped them identify their risks and develop their COVID-19 Management Plan.
Ensuring that their people only have the workplace access they need to do their job, for the time they need has become a critical part of keeping their operations running and their people healthy.
Data Driven COVID Response
By examining close contact events across its global operations, RightCrowd has been able to take a data-driven approach to its COVID-19 response. Its contact tracing solution provides data on where people came into contact infrequently, and the Company was able to identify and test solutions to mitigate identified risks.
The data provided a number of important insights that helped not only further develop the technology but also keep people safe and healthy.
Contact us to find out how we can help you get in control of workplace contact tracing.