How This Personal Safety Startup is Protecting Teams from COVID-19
Humans don’t do well without specifics. A call to “practice social distancing” leaves too much to the imagination, while instructions to stay at least six feet away from strangers provides a more straightforward, more actionable message. Here is how a personal safety startup is protecting teams from COVID-19.
As teams return to work, companies must wrestle with the realities of shared office spaces and the continued threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees will continue to feel anxious and unsafe until a trusted vaccine hits the market. Until that time, businesses can either allow employees to work from home or take measures to keep their office environments as safe as possible.
Companies that can facilitate remote work should continue to do so where possible. Others, though, do not have that luxury. Those businesses need a solution to keep their employees safe, and a company called POM just came out with the answer.
How does POM’s pandemic solution work?
POM began as a company on a mission to make it easier for people to get faster access to first responders. After a college student lost his life in a situation where he could not get emergency services, POM’s founders wanted to create a simple product that could save others from similar situations.
The company’s flagship product works as a simple, portable button that connects to a backend security platform. Three taps of the button transfer the user’s location data and profile to a dispatcher who can summon emergency help. One long press can activate a number of custom features, from sending an automated text to initiating a fake phone call to the user’s phone.
How to help a virus? How to help a pandemic?
You can’t call the fire department on a virus, though. As the pandemic grew more serious, POM recognized the opportunity to help in a different way. By leveraging its existing hardware and adding new features, POM found a way to help businesses and other organizations substantially reduce the threat of the virus within their workforces.
The POM Tracer, POM’s newly developed social distancing, and contact tracing technology, uses the foundational components of POM’s primary line of products with a few important additions. The devices, which are about the size of a large coin, clip easily to ID badges or fit into pockets or bags.
POM has modified its product with an IoT angle, allowing devices to recognize when carriers get within six feet of one another and alert users to increase distance for their safety. Even more, the technology is based on proximity so users don’t need to worry about being tracked by a GPS.
What if I test positive?
When a person within a business tests positive, POM Tracers help businesses minimize exposure risk, with contact tracing. The devices can easily track both Level 1 contact, where a person is within six feet of a person who tested positive, and Level 2 contact, the next layer of people who were in close contact with the first group who may have been exposed.
Do I have to have the app on my computer or phone?
These devices do not require users to download apps to function. HR owns the entirety of the system, allowing an organization to collect accurate and informative data without infringing on the privacy and labor rights of users.
As long as the pandemic lasts, POM’s solution will remain an effective and efficient way for people managing in-office teams to maintain the highest possible standards of safety.
Projecting the future of contact tracing and personal safety
Solutions like the POM Tracer, which does not need a companion app to operate, may eventually become standard-issue at all organizations with coworking teams. Apps alone are unreliable, and even when more than 80% of users actually download them (which is rare), many labor laws and unions prevent employers from requiring employees to download software to their personal devices.
What’s the philosophy on data collection?
POM’s device-based philosophy of data collection and analysis is the future. Without the need to rely on smartphones, companies can get the data they need without overstepping their boundaries. When users pass through a gateway, a bluetooth device begins transmitting proximity information.
Going through the gateway protects each of the companies from the consequences of collecting and keeping personal data — a practice that can carry hefty penalties when done poorly. IoT sensors placed in doorways and other common spaces help ensure accuracy.
Where is the data stored?
Keeping this data in house allows businesses to run immediate risk reports to identify and contain threats before they spread.
CDC guidelines quantify “close contact” as being within six feet of a person for more than 15 minutes, but more cautious businesses can customize their parameters to be even safer.
The POM tracer system also ensures confidential and anonymous communication.
Having the POM tracer system at work, the employees never need to know which of their coworkers could have been infected.
HR gathers the appropriate data, traces opportunities for exposure, and privately communicates the next steps to affected parties. No one feels singled out, and the business protects itself from potential liability. Even the other employees and coworkers in your employ don’t ever have any information on each other.
When is the vaccine coming?
Perhaps a vaccine for COVID-19 will arrive ahead of schedule and allow businesses to return to the office quickly — with more confidence. Even if that does happen, however, the distribution of such a vaccine will take months in even the best circumstances.
Organizations continue to face a long and uncertain timeline for social distancing and enhanced cleaning practices. And who knows what the wave of the future will be?
What are the costs?
The POM Tracer provides a simple and cost-effective solution to a highly sensitive and nebulous problem that will not disappear on its own.
Businesses with coworking teams should follow the cautions provided (or insisted upon by local and national governments).
However, it’s essential to business to move forward. We have a better and safer road where organization can implement the POM tracer and begin with smarter tracking. Implementation now will avoid more serious problems in the months to come.
How This Personal Safety Startup is Protecting Teams from COVID-19 was originally published on ReadWrite on September 25, 2020 by Brad Anderson.