Technology innovations to help universities and colleges safely reopen

As a higher education leader, the safety of your faculty and students is always a top priority. With the Covid-19 crisis, this has only been magnified. Ever since the crisis began your teams have been forced to reevaluate many if not all of your institution’s safety policies and procedures in order to safely reopen for the new academic year. As you review your plans, what role is technology playing to support a safe reopening? In this post we’re highlighting a few innovations that you should be considering:

1. Contract tracing and exposure apps to slow the spread

Earlier this month, an organization called Covid Watch announced the availability of its contract tracking app for both Apple and Android devices, along with live deployment at the University of Arizona. As the first app of its kind to be adopted by a higher learning institution in the US, Covid Watch is fully anonymous and uses real-time recommendations to enable users to make decisions that can help slow the spread of Covid-19.

App users are tracked using Bluetooth technology, and receive notifications if they have been in contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. In addition, the app has the capability based on an algorithm to determine how infectious the person was at the time contact was made and recommends that students with the highest risk of exposure either get tested or quarantine themselves.

Given concerns about privacy, usage of the app is not required. The University of Arizona is encouraging students, faculty and staff to download and use the app through a social media campaign.

2. Contactless technology to enable touchless environments

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on how germs and viruses spread. As health officials urge everyone to wash our hands frequently and limit what we touch when out in public, the value of contactless technology has increased. This technology can be used both for payments as well and verification applications through student ID cards. Not only does it enable a touchless experience, but it also provides ease, convenience and security as students go about their day on campus.

Apple provides ID card functionality to the Apple Wallet for iPhone and Apple Watch, allowing students to use it for a variety of experiences including entering buildings, paying for meals, accessing the university gym and taking out books from the library. According to Apple, more than 100,000 students in the United States will have access to contactless ID technology on their Apple devices in 2020. This is just one example of the contactless initiatives being introduced at colleges and universities around the country and to provide safer environments.

3. Computer vision and real-time data to create safer spaces

As students, faculty and staff return to campuses during the pandemic, monitoring busy common areas for mask usage and social distances - as well as entrances and exits – presents a unique challenge. In addition, ensuring the appropriate room capacity and ventilation is critical to preventing the spread of the virus.

Computer vision uses image and video feeds to understand what is going on is the real world. When compared to other ways of measuring spaces - such as people trackers and occupancy sensors - computer vision is much more precise and very fast. Nomad Go provides an end-to-end solution using computer vision to help higher education institutions reopen more safely and access real-time data about their spaces to ensure ongoing safety, even in heavy traffic areas.

Nomad Go uses everyday devices such as smartphones and cameras combined with its proprietary computer vision platform to monitor spaces for key metrics using including mask usage, physical distancing, room occupancy and density, as well as connect to building management systems for ventilation controls. With real-time data provided through alerts and dashboards, facilities teams can gain increased visibility into trends to provide safer spaces for all of their stakeholders.

Colleges and universities can start quickly seeing the benefits of Nomad Go by installing the app onto a tablet and placing that by a busy building entrance. The system will instantly notify anyone who isn’t wearing a mask to help with mask compliance policies campus-wide.

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