Monday, October 26, 2020

Tracking Wearables - The Government's Solution to Enforcing Personal Distancing

During the pandemic, we have repeatedly heard about the implementation of software tracking for ensuring that social distancing rules are being obeyed.  According to a posting on the U.S. government's System for Award Management (SAM) website, it appears that the United States Navy is readying itself for deployment of its own proximity app.


Here is the posting of the Request for Information (RFI):


The Navy is requesting that the app include the following components:


1.) sets of wearable proximity tracking devices “wearables” and


2.) a storage and processing device “station(s)”.  There may be additional intermediate devices to transfer the information from the wearable to the stations. The storage and processing device can be a local, standalone server or laptop or other computer. Additionally, a Cloud solution is desired that would replicate the functionality of the local, standalone device.


Each wearable device must estimate the distance between itself and wearables worn by other Navy personnel and record the following four pieces of information which will be transferred to a station or stations that will store the records for all employees:


1.) unique identifier of the wearer’s device


2.) the unique identifier of the device that is in close proximity


3.) the estimated distance or a measurement that is used to estimate distance


4.) the date/time of the measurement


These four pieces of information are used to calculate the distance between naval personnel and the length of time that they were in close contact. 


The wearable device must meet the following operational requirements:


1.) Measure distances accurately to at least +/- 12 inches with +/- 1 inch being the objective.


2.) Store proximity records for all devices that are within 6 feet but not more than 10 feet away.


3.) Identify up to 100 devices within one minute and store a proximity record for all 100 devices.


4.) Must be able to store up to 200,000 contact records.


5.) Must have a battery life of at least 5 days with more than 30 days desired.


6.) Can have features to provide the we are that they are within 6 feet of another individual.


Here is a complete listing of requirements:


The proximity wearables will only be worn while individuals are at work.  The proximity records will determine whether an individual was too close for too long to a person that has tested positive for COVID-19.  These records will also be used to determine whenever government-mandated social distancing policies are effective which seems to be a rather odd request given the extremely close quarters on ships and submarines and the use of hot bunking/hot racking.


This device gives us a sense of what could lie ahead for all of us in the COVID-19 era.  Since a significant number of people do not have cell phones with sufficient technological capabilities that they can be used for tracking, the implementation of a wearable device could be governments' ultimate answer to ensure that we "behave ourselves" and follow their mandated rules.


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