Is geofencing a protective bubble or a heap of trouble?

Maria J. Danford

Even if it had been to stop today, the COVID-19 crisis will depart an indelible imprint on the infrastructure of our lives. In addition to the painted traces, warning signals, and other small-tech indicators that attempt to keep persons properly divided, we’re looking at larger fascination in technological alternatives to […]

Even if it had been to stop today, the COVID-19 crisis will depart an indelible imprint on the infrastructure of our lives. In addition to the painted traces, warning signals, and other small-tech indicators that attempt to keep persons properly divided, we’re looking at larger fascination in technological alternatives to implement quarantines of infected people and keep the coronavirus from spreading in crowds.

Geofencing for quarantine administration

Although considerably consideration has absent to call tracing as a instrument for monitoring the virus’s spread, geofencing is a most likely more valuable instrument for imposing these curve-flattening procedures at the much larger societal level, in just about every home, business, or other facility.

Geofencing devices keep track of and implement the digital boundaries in which cellular, edge, and other devices—and their involved human users—roam. These devices can choose a variety of programmatic actions, this kind of as sending an notify concept, loading a unit-level user interface, or issuing robotic commands when a unit enters, exits, or moves all-around in a prespecified zone, as indicated by its GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, and/or Bluetooth coordinates.

Main providers of geofencing alternatives are Thumbvista, Simpli.fi, ESRI, GeoMoby, Apple, Pulsate, Mapcite, Swirl Networks, Bluedot, Mobinius, GPSwox, and Localytics.

The accurate electricity of geofencing lies in its ability to dynamically evolve the embedded procedures, equipment learning products, and other artifacts that constitute the social-distancing logic getting enforced. In which administration of COVID-19 quarantines is anxious, geofencing can be established up with human response loops. It can result in a helpful reminder contact or choose a more stringent, systemic response, this kind of as locking the doors of an isolation ward to avert infected persons from walking out.

Here’s a single illustration of a geofenced human response loop. The Irish telecommunications enterprise Hubbcat has proposed making use of geofencing to keep observe of quarantined travelers who arrive in the region. The system was trialed in the Bahamas and is below analysis by the Irish govt. Arriving travelers would be required to down load a Hubbcat geofencing application. As soon as the application is established up on a traveler’s smartphone, it would make it possible for Irish authorities to generate a digital perimeter all-around the territory or amenities (this kind of as a home or resort) where travelers will be self-isolating for the duration of the required quarantine time period.

If Hubbcat’s geofence had been breached, it would routinely result in an alarm that puts an Irish public well being supervisor immediately in voice call with the individual. This would offer a channel for the authorities to remind persons to comply with the quarantine. It could also be established up so that public well being supervisors can frequently check with irrespective of whether people are demonstrating indications or getting sick, in which scenario they would be directed to the nearest healthcare facility for most likely lifetime-saving procedure.

A more assertive use of geofencing purposes for COVID-19 quarantining has been designed in India. A workforce of researchers is piloting a cellular application that tracks compliance with home quarantines by COVID-19 patients. Also mentioned in this article, the LakshmanRekha application:

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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