Contact Tracing Safety & Privacy

Contact Tracing
during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

How to balance public safety and personal privacy.
Personal privacy is always a major concern when it comes to collecting visitor and employee data, but the ability to implement contact tracing technology in high-volume environments is essential during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

With the right approach, you can effectively implement contact tracing technology seamlessly and effortlessly, with minimal intrusion on the overall experience of visitors and employees – or their personal privacy.


Safety Preparation & Prevention

The CDC cites contact tracing as a "key strategy" in the fight against COVID-19. Many employers have a pressing responsibility to take an active role in order to prevent the spread of Covid in the workplace. Contact tracing efforts are playing a key role in new safety preparation and --- prevention methods.

Contact tracing has been effective in slowing the progression of an outbreak, especially if it can be deployed as early as possible. Immediate notification to all close contacts of a positive individual and proper physical distancing after exposure are proven successful methods of preventing viruses like COVID-19 from spreading.

Early contact tracing of COVID-19 patients reduced the presence of secondary infections in communities by nearly 2 days, according to an analysis on the benefits of contact tracing in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

According to many models, people can unknowingly infect up to two others before symptoms even occur, but according to SwipeOn, effective contract tracing cuts this in half. “Even when tracing coverage is reduced to 80%, which is more realistic, contact tracing still maintains an average spread rate under one (1) person.”

How can you incorporate technology into your organization's contact tracing efforts?

According to a study on delayed contact tracing in the Lancet Public Health, “Contact tracing via conventional methods or mobile app technology is central to control strategies during de-escalation of physical distancing.”

Contact tracing technology allows you to maintain the ability to deploy tracing at a moment's notice and flag any contacts between employees or visitors at the parameters you set up.

What's more, contact tracing is a great way to tell your visitors that your business is concerned with their well-being, as well as the safety of the workplace, employees, contractors, and other visitors. Your check-ins will be a signal indicating your commitment to personal and organizational safety in your location.

It's essential to maintain oversight of proactive contact tracing efforts – and it helps if those efforts can be implemented seamlessly, with the smallest possible intrusion on the typical routine of your current visitors and employees. This way, you can avoid massive adjustments to the overall functions of your location that can be intrusive on your organization if they are suddenly implemented on a wide scale.

Technology empowers contact tracing. New contact tracing technologies and methods can be extremely helpful in any organization's contact tracing efforts, helping to limit unnecessary face-to-face interactions and potential exposure to the virus.

One method for replacing in-person interactions is through contactless sign-in. A touch-free check-in method replaces the need for one of your employees to come into close contact with every visitor in your building – especially in cases where visitors are signing in on a physical clipboard or sign-in sheet and passing it back and forth.

Contact tracing technology allows you to seamlessly implement a less risky check-in method that acquires all of the information you need from your visitors. It also integrates that data into your pre-existing suite of tools while indicating to everyone visiting your location that you are doing everything possible to keep them safe on your site without inconveniencing their routines.

What are the features of ethical contact tracing

The past couple of years have brought a rise in contact tracing technology and helped to create a boom in the development of best practices for comprehensive contact tracing efforts.

According to Forbes, manual contact tracing efforts were quickly supplemented early on in the pandemic by “startups, large tech companies, universities, and governments around the world,” who rushed to develop their own technological versions of contact tracing, but many of those first efforts were an invasion of privacy – they depended on mandatory, top-down monitoring of citizens movements, incorporating intrusive data “beyond just cell phones.”

In fact, the Israel Supreme Court expressed concern that such an invasion of privacy “could lead to a breach of human rights and create harm in a range of cases.”

As those efforts were refined to comply with GDPR laws in the EU and CCPA regulations in California in order to protect the public against privacy violations and overreach in data collection, these entities – especially those in the West – have sought to find a balance between maintaining proactive contact tracing technology to protect employees and visitors, and respecting the privacy need of those same people.

Ethics in contact tracing is essential to improving safety and security while maintaining organizational trust from your visitors and employees.


What are the ten of the most important use cases and essential features for any good contact tracing technology?

  • 1. Contact tracing — Technologies like phone masts, GSM attributes, GPS coordinates, or even Bluetooth are all used for contact tracing, with varying degrees of quality and effectiveness. For example, can GPS account for people separated by a wall? Probably not as easily as Bluetooth. A transparent policy on how long any such data can be stored and accessed is something that should be considered in any organization.
  • 2. Test authentication — It is important to identify which tests are being used to certify visitors as Covid-negative before they have permission to enter your location, as well as calibrate how it was administered. Did an authorized tester administer this particular test? Contact tracing technology can deliver this information automatically.
  • 3. Privacy — There must be sufficient transparency and privacy checks to guarantee that visitors' accessible data isn't linked to other sensitive data that they consider private. Contact tracing efforts being recommended by Health Authorities could also provide useful information to law enforcement or tax officials. It is important to be clear to your visitors and employees about who has access to their information, and how it is being stored. This can all be easily automated through contact tracing technology.
  • 4. COVID-19 certifications — Instituting a COVID-19 certification or “passport” is a tactic being employed at some organiztions. This should be designed to confirm the status of a test for a specific person. Cell phones present the most convenient method of implementing this, but any system should also account for individuals who aren't carrying phones.
  • 5. Workplace and Supply Chain Safety — Contact tracing is necessary both inside and outside of your physical location. The workspaces that implement contact tracing most effectively will maintain the ability to physically section off parts of their buildings so that infected individuals only come into contact with a few others. Furthermore, communities will need to validate supply chain safety by ensuring efficient distribution routes and reducing contamination risks.
  • 6. Fraud ID — In the case that COVID-19 passports are being implemented, securely identifying individuals will be crucial in preventing fraud. Face-recognition technology is preferred to digital fingerprints due to the risk of spreading viruses through fingerprint sensors. New technologies could provide solutions that balance public privacy and safety, like cameras that recognize faces without recording visitors.
  • 7. Data aggregation — Contact tracing technology can aggregate data from several sources and verify it. Apps can collect up-to-the minute symptom data, as well as infection, recovery, and fatality rates from desired locations and parameters. Location data collectors can provide detailed location and traffic data for millions of unique users for individual locations.
  • 8. Process and Policy Development — Contact tracing technology and tools are updated dynamically as needs and implementation methods shift, and the balance between privacy and security is refined. Health and policy officials require simulations for A/B testing on a variety of factors and conditions. Furthermore, improvements in algorithms has fostered more effective, targeted research. Real-time policy-sharing is critical to maintaining organizational trust.
  • 9. Oversight and evaluation — Bodies providing oversight on the ethics of contact tracing technologies will be essential in developing public trust. Clearly stating policies and methods will also allow experts to collaborate worldwide. Citizens, contact tracing experts, and civil liberty and privacy advocates should all have input on which privacy and security measures are upheld in contact tracing.
  • 10. Integration with other use cases — The data infrastructure acquired and maintained through contact tracing technology could be aggregated to a variety of other use cases in the future. It is essential that any COVID-19 contact tracing is incompatible with any service that might harvest its data, so that visitors are protected from such a potential overreach and invasion of privacy.

How can you get your employees to actually use a contact tracing app?

Many new technologies and applications are great ideas, but they fail because they are unable to achieve a critical mass of engaged users.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Unless we fundamentally rethink how COVID-19 contact tracing apps are being designed, launched, and scaled, the vast majority” will fail. In the US, government mandates to download a contact tracing app are untenable, but these apps require a certain percentage of users in a target community in order to be effective.

So, how can businesses help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (and demonstrate their dedication to maintaining a safe workplace environment for employees and visitors) through contact tracing technologies in a productive, effective way?

One essential component is to communicate to users at all times that you are protecting their privacy. The more users who know that their privacy is being protected, the more inclined they will be to use the contact tracing app.

In order to be successful, a contact tracing platform or app must also take a targeted, comprehensive approach – or “nearly ubiquitous” in a community, as HBR puts it.

Instead of launching such efforts in a broad and indiscriminate fashion, they should be focused on contained, related communities where they could provide instant worth, like religious congregations, workplaces, schools, restaurants, hotels, airplanes, etc.

If they are targeted in such a narrow fashion, the app can feasibly reach 100% adoption in an individual community, and other such apps can be connected and scaled up at a regional or even national level.

How Autonix can help you create a targeted approach to 'contact tracing'

With the contact tracing capabilities of Autonix, you can seamlessly implement a uniquely targeted approach to contact tracing that integrates into your current, pre-existing suite of business tools.

Maintain a safe workplace environment for employees and visitors, while clearly telling them that you will value their privacy concerns. With Autonix, you can easily customize your own detailed balance between privacy and security, while maintaining a high level of preparation for any contact tracing efforts you may need to undertake.

Request a demo or start with our free plan today!