Fighting Covid-19 on Campus with Forkbeard’s Technology

University Lecture

We have written previously about the necessity of bringing students back on campus, as well as the most common measures used by universities (here, if you missed it). This time we would like to outline how Forkbeard’s technology can be used to aid the process. To do that we first explain Forkbeard’s technology, more specifically the Proximity Monitor app. Afterwards, we dive into the pro-active and reactive measures that the technology enables.  

Forkbeard’s Pandemic Solution: Proximity Monitor  

Similar to Apple & Google’s Exposure Notification system, Forkbeard’s app Proximity Monitor relies on Bluetooth® connections between devices. Furthermore, similarly to Apple & Google, Forkbeard’s app works in the background and even with your screen locked, without draining your battery. This ensures that connections are being always recorded and without any noticeable effect on the end user.  

Of course, the next question that comes to mind is privacy. Unlike Apple & Google’s solution, Proximity Monitor data is running on a centralized architecture which enables the unique pro-active and reactive Covid-19 measures. However, to preserve privacy Forkbeard has implemented secure temporary storage using the escrow principle. This means that the proximity data and the identity data are stored on separate cloud instances and held by different identities. Only in the case of a positive Covid-19 case is the proximity data linked to the identity data. In case of no positive Covid-19 events, the data is automatically deleted after 30 days.  

Forkbeard’s Proximity Monitor in App & Google Play Store

For customers who do not want any identity data stored for tracing purposes and only leverage use cases based on social distancing behaviour, Forkbeard offers a purely tag-based solution.  

Proactive Measures 

  1. Identification of at-risk areas 
    Using Proximity Monitor universities’ can see aggregated proximity data by locations that they have specified. This enables the identification of areas with high crowd density and poor social distancing. Staff can then counteract and install objects that help with traffic flow and improve social distancing. 
  1. Social distancing alerts 
    Given the live identification of at-risk areas with Forkbeard’s technology, university staff can set up direct communication to staff and student body to avoid certain at-risk areas. For example, if the population density in the canteen has hit its management-set limit, a message can go out to all students and staff to avoid that particular canteen and provide alternatives.  
  1. Intelligent cleaning alerts 
    With surfaces being one potential way of spreading Covid-19, public bathrooms are especially prone to disease transmission. Here Proximity Monitor can help identify which vicinities require urgent sanitation due to heavy usage instead of regular cleaning schedules. This can increase sanitation effectiveness and reduce sanitation cost.  
  1. Identification of at-risk interactions 
    The global standard for at-risk interactions are the ones who are at or below 2 meter of distance and for a duration of 15 minutes or higher. However, what happens if two individuals spent 10 minutes 1 meter apart? Forkbeard has developed a solution to this. Science-backed proprietary algorithms convert any interaction between two individuals regardless of distance and time to the specified 15min at 2m measurement. Using Proximity Monitor and these algorithms allows the campus management team to understand how many at-risk interactions they encounter on an hourly, daily, weekly and even monthly basis.  
  1. Covid-19 Impact Simulation 
    Research on Covid-19 outbreaks at universities has been conducted, for example by Gressman & Peck (2020) in their paper “Simulating Covid-19 in a university environment”. One of the major limitations mentioned by the authors was the inability to estimate student and staff contact accurately. With Forkbeard’s technology and the possibility to count at-risk interactions and areas, accurate simulations can be performed based on similar models as developed by Gressman & Peck. Management staff can then identify weaknesses in their Covid-19 measures and optimize those until sufficiently positive results are achieved.  

Reactive Measures 

  1. Contact Tracing 
    Given the unfortunate event of a positive Covid-19 case, Forkbeard’s solution would allow contact-tracing in less than a minute. All contacts could be identified and ranked in order of exposure to prioritize the outreach to and quarantining of contacts. 
  1. Sanitation Plan 
    After the contact tracing has been initiated, all locations that the positive case has frequented can be pulled up in order of time spent. This would allow quick and efficient sanitation of possibly infectious campus spaces.  

These are some of the most popular features of Forkbeard’s pandemic solution. In case you have more ideas or questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us here or leave a comment on Medium.  

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