United States / Coronavirus Insights
A Look Into Private Contact Tracing Services

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by Nick Masters, Senior Analyst
Aug 10 2020

Amid the pandemic, private contact tracing services are emerging to aid in virus mitigation efforts. Demand for these services comes from organizations like offices, schools and medical facilities. The advantage of enlisting private contact tracing services is a faster, more accurate response to potentially infected individuals within an organization. A handful of companies now offer contact tracing solutions with the help of specialized software and hardware. Private contact tracing services is a nascent industry with major overlaps with the following industries: software developers (IBISWorld report 51121), security services (56161) and property management (53131). The wider contact tracing industry is developing amid greater demand yet not without challenges pertaining to privacy and participation.

The nuts and bolts of private contact tracing

Private contact tracing services rely on layers of security measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The first layer is app-based self-reporting in which participants verify that they are asymptomatic before entering an office, for example. In some cases, a participant’s temperature will be taken before entering an office or facility, adding an additional level of verification for healthy individuals. Additional layers become more complex and typically rely on Bluetooth-enabled hardware to detect proximity.

For example, real estate firm RXR is using clip-on social distancing devices that vibrate when within six feet of someone and collect contact data. So, when two devices get in close proximity to each other, this contact is recorded for potential tracing efforts in the event of an infection. Other means of contact logging include the manual input of a participant or nonparticipant’s information into an app that then logs the contact in a centralized database.

This collection of contact data greatly speeds up the response time and therefore mitigates the risk of needing to quarantine an entire team or workforce. Overall, contact tracing services vary in the number of layers they employ and what technology they use. Generally, such services compete on price, user-friendliness and ease of integration with existing office systems.

Private and public contact tracing: differences and synergies

The main difference between private and public contact tracing is the scale. Private contact tracing services typically cater to clients on an organizational level. The implementation of contact tracing among an organization in which participation is mandatory greatly reduces the risk of widespread transmission within the organization. Organization-level participation provides for a more watertight screening and tracing system, thus ensuring a greater level of business continuity. As virus mitigation efforts continue, the lessons learned with private contact tracing may be put to wider use among current and developing public contact tracing efforts.