back@work App: Forkbeard joins forces with EY

Forkbeard joined EY in a webinar to talk about their global collaboration and Forkbeard’s back@work app. The app is a comprehensive solution for a safe return-to-work during the Covid-19 pandemic. In case you have missed this exciting webinar, you can find below a summary of the discussion and the app’s features.

How these technologies came together

Forkbeard’s successful previous experience in contact tracing in the healthcare sector for the APAC region during the Swine Flu epidemic gave relevant insights and background tech for Covid-19 contact tracing.

EY, SAP & Qualtrics partnered for a global collaboration when Covid-19 hit Europe. There was a lack of infrastructure and experience amongst business leaders for pandemic management. Together, they rolled out several solutions in 90 countries for six months as a pro bono service.

With Forkbeard’s back@work app, EY aims to add an effective contact tracing tool to its partnerships that can be customized to their clients’ needs.

Strong need for a functioning alternative to Apple & Google

With Apple and Google making their solution accessible only to governments and health institutions, corporates are left with only a few or no suitable private contact tracing solutions. These are mostly centralized apps which in addition to privacy concerns, face a number of other challenges, namely high battery usage and no in-background and off-screen capabilities. Challenges that governments have not been able to solve themselves (e.g. UK, Norway).

back@work is built on years of experience in BLE and Forkbeard’s existing technology

Forkbeard provides centimeter-level accurate indoor positioning systems (IPS). The company has previously developed an app for retailers that works similar to Google Maps, except that it replaces outdoor destinations with indoor positioned products. In order for its retail app to work, Forkbeard had to overcome the exact challenges that governments and private companies are facing in the development of an effective contact tracing solution.

This means that for Android and iOS devices back@work keeps battery usage low, works in the background and even with the screen off, while being in the pockets of its users.

A unique feature of back@work is that it allows reactive (users declare sickness) and proactive (legitimized 3rd party declare sickness on behalf of a user) contact tracing. This makes it a more effective tracing tool compared to existing solutions.

In addition to tracing capabilities, back@work offers surveys that have been developed to routinely check in with employees on their well-being, detect early signs of Covid-19 and monitor the spread of the virus.

Data protection by design: enabling tracing, not tracking

The app is created with privacy at the core of its design in order for employees to feel comfortable with their employers’ using the app to create a safe work environment.

Forkbeard’s CTO, Wilfred Booij, explains how the app’s secure architecture and state-of-the-art encryption technology keeps user-data safe:

Personal identifiers, contact history, and survey results are saved on different cloud solutions to generate randomized IDs for each user. These IDs are updated every half hour.

Furthermore, the randomized IDs are non-traceable and can only be used to connect with a user in case of an event (tested positive for Covid-19). Survey results are stored using the SAP Qualtrics solution which has been in the market for over a decade.

In essence, separating user IDs from the device IDs has been Forkbeard’s approach to the design and implementation process, making it fully GDPR compliant.

Forkbeard has also added ‘Bluetooth tag’ capability to the back@work contact tracing solution. This will cover places where phones are not allowed due to security reasons or are subject to stricter privacy regulations. These low-cost tags offer more than 30-days of battery life and require no additional infrastructure.

back@work setup, costs and availability

The panelists answered several questions posed by the audience. Key questions revolved around setup, costs and availability.

The process of setting up the back@work app has been kept simplistic to ensure a good user experience:

  1. After downloading the app, your employees search for their organization or scan the QR code to start the configuration process designed specifically for their company
  2. Users identify themselves with minimum user information (e.g. company or employee ID)
  3. Users fill in surveys that generate initial health status and risk group
  4. The app starts recording contacts for tracing purposes

The cost of the solution has been kept as low as possible prioritizing support to organizations and health and safety of individuals during Covid-19.

Forkbeard, SAP, Qualtrics and EY have worked together to make this project a priority and are making this solution available for their clients now. It will help organizations to get their employees back to work using phone or tag technologies, as well as monitor their employees’ health and safety.

If you are interested in the pilot back@work app with a trial period offering, connect with us here.

Want to listen to the complete conversation, register for free here.


A short guide to productivity in manufacturing


Sonitor® Technologies Prepares for Accelerated Growth


A short guide to safety in manufacturing