Clint Van Marrewijk from SaferMe on COVID-19 Tracing Inside Companies

Episode Summary

Harry’s guest this week is the founder and CEO of a New Zealand firm, SaferMe, that had developed proximity-based smartphone apps for worker safety. When the coronavirus came along, their apps turned out to be a great way to help companies build their own “contact tables” to identify, test, and isolate SARS-CoV-2 carriers.

Episode Notes

Harry’s guest this week is the founder and CEO of a New Zealand firm, SaferMe, that had developed proximity-based smartphone apps for worker safety. When the coronavirus came along, their apps turned out to be a great way to help companies build their own “contact tables” to identify, test, and isolate SARS-CoV-2 carriers.

In epidemiology, contact tracing is the art of determining who has crossed paths with an infected individual, so that those exposed can be alerted and can take appropriate action, such as self-isolating. Health agencies around the world are building public smartphone apps to assist with contact tracing, but they’re being deployed at a national scale, whereas many businesses need more detailed information to protect their workers.

Van Marrewijk says SaferMe had already built technology that creates a “virtual safety bubble” around each worker—issuing an alert, for example, if lightning is approaching or if they come too close to a hazard such as a mine shaft. “We already had this technology going and we had already done GDPR [data privacy] compliance,” he says. When the company noticed early in the pandemic that some of its clients were using the app as the foundation for in-house COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, it quickly built a dedicated app.

“Someone reports sick, your contact tracer can hit a button and quickly see ‘These are the eight people out of a group of 40 that perhaps should stay home or be tested until we sure,'” Van Marrewijk explains. “That gives some assurance there’s a proper process in place.”

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