Leveraging social distancing tech to reopen Delft University

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Covid-19 having a severe negative impact on the travel and hospitality industry is no surprise. However, an industry which might not come directly to one’s mind is education. We have previously written about universities, their need to reopen and their different pandemic response measures. If you have missed that post, you can find it here.  The mental well-being of students and the universities financial pressures are main drivers to open back up. In order to accelerate the reopening of the campus the Delft University of Technology has been conducting a research pilot leveraging Forkbeard’s technology for social distance monitoring.

TU Delft 

Delft University of Technology also known as TU Delft, is one of the oldest and largest public universities located in the Netherlands. With a focus on technology, it is only natural that the university’s response involves technology. More specifically, the TU Delft wanted to explore social distancing technology to understand the risks of reopening public spaces such as the library. For it’s pilot it partnered with Forkbeard to conduct some initial research on interactions and reopening risks.  

Forkbeard 

Having worked with Bluetooth® technologies for over 2 decades through our parent company Sonitor, Forkbeard has developed a social distancing and contact tracing technology that is unparalleled in performance. You can read more about the technology in our Pandemic Solution elevator pitch.  

Research Pilot 

The ambition of the research pilot was for TU Delft to quantify the risk of reopening its public facilities. To achieve this, the university opened the library for a subset of its student body. Small information stands were distributed in the library with instructions and the QR codes for Forkbeard’s app and TU Delft’s organization. To capture location insights, small beacons were distributed across different areas and rooms in the library.  

Source: News segment on NOS (full video on Forkbeard’s LinkedIn) 

Subsequently, Forkbeard’s app, Proximity Monitor, used Bluetooth Low Energy signals to log the duration and distance between student interactions. For students who wanted to use an alternative to their phone, 80 tags were provided. Forkbeard’s solution works seamlessly across tags and phones, as well as iOS and Android operating systems.  

The interaction data from phones and tags was then displayed using a live analytics dashboard built by EY and SAP. TU Delft’s staff could get a live overview of several metrics such as the number of total interactions, number of smartphones used or interactions generated by smartphones (vs. tags/wristbands). Furthermore, the interactions were classified into different risk types ranging from low to high. This allowed staff to monitor the risk distribution of the interactions overall, as well as subset it by user group (e.g. staff vs students/visitors) and by location (e.g. entrance, coffee corner, project rooms, etc.).  

Source: TU Delft  

The research pilot showed promising results not only for monitoring social distancing, but also for the performance of TU Delft’s other measures that the university has deployed to ensure social distancing. Based on the results the university will allow in more students already this week. The Dutch national broadcaster NOS covered the pilot in more detail during the evening news last week. The clip is available on Forkbeard’s LinkedIn page.  

This is an example for how Forkbeard’s technology together with other measures can ensure a safe return to normalcy. In addition to social distance monitoring, the versatility of Forkbeard’s solution enables it to be deployed across a plethora of other pandemic use cases. These we have detailed out here


Forkbeard is making the solution available through EY and you can learn more about it in EY’s blog post or video. Contact us here for more information or discuss with us on Medium in the comments section.

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