EIT Digital tests token-based COVID-19 tracing in crowded real-life settings across four European regions

As relaxations have kicked in across the world and people are adapting to the new normal, containing the spread of COVID-19 is very important. This is possible with contact tracing and it is the reason for many countries to launch smartphone app solutions. Facilitating the same, EIT Digital complements the smartphone app approach with solutions based on physical tokens.

COVID-19 tracing pilot

EIT Digital is a European digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation. It fosters digital innovation in businesses and entrepreneurs by providing them with technology, talent, and growth support. It has partnered with four European regions and has started testing the COVID-19 tracing with physical tokens in real-life settings. The testing is being conducted at events and situations that are crucial for opening essential parts of the economy in Europe.

The COVID-19 tracing pilot will be tested initially at football stadiums, high schools, hospitals, concerts, factories, and opera houses. EIT Digital supports four teams located in the UK, Italy, Benelux, and Nordics. This move is a part of the initiatives taken to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on various economies and societies, using digital technology.

Secure, yet anonymous

The contact tracing pilot was launched in September. According to EIT Digital, these token systems will be easy to use, secure, and privacy-preserving. Also, it can operate independently of mobile phones. These physical contact tracing tokens can complement app-based tracing solutions.

These pilots have anonymity as the common aspect and wearers will be anonymously notified if they have come in contact with a fellow wearer who has been infected with COVID-19 – either potentially or confirmed. On receiving this notification, wearers will be prompted to self-isolate themselves and take a COVID-19 test.

UK pilot: Among these pilots, the UK pilot device C-Detect will be validated across many clinics and on construction sites in the UK by mid-October. The early warning system of COVID-19 can track and trace contagion. It can be attached to a wristband and check the wearer’s respiration rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, body temperature every 10 minutes. Exceeding the suggested limits in any of these aspects will indicate the presence of COVID-19 infection. And, in such case, the C-Detect pilot will prompt the wearer to take a test and curb its spread.

Benelux pilot: TokenMe, the Benelux pilot deploys a wristwatch-like solution. The devices will detect proximity and exchange IDs anonymously through broadcast radio. Its bracelet system will be tested in two settings – large-scale events like concerts and football games in the Philips Stadium of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. Visitors will be offered to take and wear the device and notification of users who are infected will remain voluntary.

Italian pilot: IprotectEU, the Italian pilot uses a token system that resembles a bracelet. It intends to run the pilot in four stages and situations with an increasing number of users. Initially, it will be run in an Italian high school and then will be followed by a factory plant, an opera house, and a large concert venue.

Nordics pilot: Finally, the Nordic team applies a hybrid solution that combines hardware tokens with a smartphone-based app that assists all tokens in proximity in order to save battery. The companion apps are not personal and are not mandatory for token owners to use. This is especially meant for hospital environments and construction sites.

These teams will create startups that will run the pilots. Upon successful completion, these teams will be responsible for market introduction, production upscaling, and commercial distribution.

Main image picture credits: EIT Digital

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