BioSecurity Defined

BioSecurity Defined

BioSecurity is the practice of enabling businesses to prepare, prevent, and rapidly respond to biological threats to keep people safe and maintain business continuity.

As the world moves past the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all thinking about how we will move forward to restart our lives. For businesses, this means putting into place a whole new set of security measures centered around the health and wellbeing of their employees, customers, and partners. BioSecurity is a concept that has been thrust into our vocabulary over the past few months, but even industry leaders are still trying to figure out exactly how to implement it. At ReturnSafe, we offer a comprehensive BioSecurity platform that is ready to tackle returning to work during COVID-19 and preventing the next outbreak on your premises. Read on to discover what a robust BioSecurity platform looks like and why your business needs one.

Why BioSecurity?

Just as a few decades ago, cyber security became standard practice for businesses of all sizes, today BioSecurity is a necessary part of the workplace. Preparing for, preventing, and rapidly responding to biological threats are the key layers of a BioSecurity platform that work together to keep people safe and maintain business continuity. While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought these issues to the forefront, this is not the first time the modern world has seen a biological threat, most recently we faced Ebola in 2014, H1N1 (Swine Flu) in 2009, and SARS in 2003. The ease and speed at which people and products travel the world these days increases the chances for future pandemics to occur and spread. However, the silver lining to our current coronavirus pandemic is that the urgency around putting preventative measures in place has been brought to light.

What Does a BioSecurity Platform Look Like?

Agile BioSecurity systems are made up of a BioSecurity Portal, which is essentially an infrastructure layer offering a set of core services. Unique ‘Solution Packs’ sit on top of that layer, each tailored to a particular disease, enabling those core services to handle the nuances of the threat at hand.

Let’s dive into our BioSecurity Portal and COVID-19 Solution Pack.

biosecurity portal covid-19 coronavirus returnsafe

BioSecurity Portal

Our BioSecurity Portal is a dynamic infrastructure layer that incorporates all the core services needed to mitigate, manage and prevent a disease outbreak in the workplace. The key services are broken out into seven compartments: Risk Assessment, Reporting, Alerts, Tracing Tools, Business Continuity, Compliance, and our Regulatory Database.

Risk Assessment

Our Assessment module provides periodic assessments for employers regarding various infectious diseases in the business’ location. Both a generic assessment for all risk will be made, as well as a version specific to current diseases that are at risk of an outbreak. Our predictive model identifies characteristics or comorbidities that make people more vulnerable to severe complications from a disease to help tailor your policies to your most vulnerable employees.

In addition, the assessment will offer best practices to lower or mitigate the risk to the employees and the workplace. These best practices include policies you can create and manage for your workforce with regards to current workplace recommendations, travel policies, etc.

Reporting

Our system takes current guidelines from the CDC, WHO, NIH and other organizations to generate reports for Human Resource and Risk departments on the current state of infections during an outbreak so all current information is easily within reach. This allows teams to remain well informed in real time in order to make necessary policy changes quickly.

Alerts

The next step beyond periodic reports is our alerts function. Based on the findings from our automatically generated reports, HR & risk teams may receive notifications of recommended actions that should be taken depending on the current biosecurity situation in the area—this occurs whether there is a current or impending infectious disease outbreak in your geography. This includes travel alerts for employees on business travel. 

Contact Tracing Tools

Once there is a known disease outbreak occurring our tracing tools kick into gear. These tools are a combination of automated and manual contact tracing actions. A simple digital logbook allows your employees to track their physical interactions with others via our mobile app manual and Bluetooth and Indoor-location technologies gather this data in the background to complement the manual notations. Our HR dashboards aggregate all of this tracing data so that management can monitor exposure risks and make recommendations for who can continue to report to the office and who should stay home.

Business Continuity

Just as Cyber Security tools implement regular system tests, our platform is able to provide regular drills to manage both system and team preparedness for an infectious disease outbreak. A simulated outbreak scenario will be run through on a regular basis to test the safety measures in place as well as to educate team members on the measures that need to be taken in case of an emergency.

Compliance

Our platform is HIPAA compliant and can be customized to meet any local, state, federal or industry compliance rules. We also generate all necessary reports to show compliance to these regulatory bodies when needed and track compliance requirements for specific disease outbreaks to keep you informed of the safeguards that you need to implement.

Regulatory Database

As new disease regulations are put into place, we maintain a knowledge base of up-to-date county, city, state, federal and industry regulations. These guidelines can also be easily referenced from our HR dashboards. These regulations enable you to manage policies in compliance with regulatory requirements. 

COVID-19 Solution Pack

covid 19 coronavirus biosecurity temperature check
COVID-19 Testing

As mentioned above, there are solution packs available for all major disease outbreaks. Let’s explore our COVID-19 Solution Pack to see how we are helping organizations deal with the current BioSecurity threat.

Risk Score

Due to the nature of COVID-19, the first part of this Solution Pack is assigning each employee a ‘risk score’. This is their likelihood for being at risk for a severe reaction if they contract coronavirus. Our system has the ability to query for a set of comorbidity factors that are relevant to particular infectious diseases. Our HIPAA compliant platform does this in a way that protects not only privacy, but also mitigates data exposure risk. For example, rather than look at someone’s entire electronic health record, management simply gets a view into their overall ‘risk score’, with the contributing factors hidden from view, as the score is automatically generated.

COVID-19 Screening

During the coronavirus pandemic employees are notified to complete a quick mobile survey each day as a quick check to ensure that only healthy employees are coming to work due to the extremely contagious nature of the disease.  This occurs through a quick series of prompts and is completed in just a few seconds, making the process painless for the employee and easy to monitor by HR through our management dashboards.

COVID-19 Testing

In the case where someone does experience symptoms, and notes that on their daily screening survey, they will be given instructions on where and how to get tested. They can then record their results on the app, which could potentially trigger the need for instant contract tracing to isolate exposed employees to mitigate further spread.

Contact Tracing

In the event that someone in a location does test positive for COVID-19, both automated and manual contact tracing methods are activated. Bluetooth and indoor-location technologies gather data in the background on a daily basis to find potential employees who may be at risk, and employees are able to manual log meetings and encounters with teammates as well for a well-rounded view of who is coming into contact with whom.

For more information and to see how our full suite of BioSecurity tools work, set up a demo today! Learn how it works.

Why You Need a BioSecurity Program to Return to Work

Why You Need a BioSecurity Program to Return to Work

COVID-19 Screening apps are important, but not sufficient 

As the world confronts ‘returning to work’ for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, companies are required to do employee screening. Essential businesses that have remained open during the lockdown, such as healthcare facilities, have implemented screening and the use of masks and other PPE for workplace safety.  However many of the screening procedures are manual. Employees and visitors are filling out paper-based logs and recording their temperature at the front desk. Then, it is up to the front desk staff to decide to either admit or restrict entry based on the screening rules in place.  

As more businesses start to reopen, teams are quickly learning from these early experiences. They are realizing that there is a need for a thorough health and safety plan for this ‘new normal’ that we are all living in. Screening surveys and PPE are essential to these plans, but much more is required for a complete solution. To best protect your employees, customers, partners and visitors, businesses need an end-to-end BioSecurity solution. This will not only reopen quickly, but so that employees can also feel confident returning to work. And, most importantly, to lay the foundation for a response to the next epidemic or disease outbreak. 

Why BioSecurity?

Just as a few years ago, ‘CyberSecurity’ became a necessary layer of protection for businesses of all sizes. Today ‘BioSecurity’ must also become a part of professional life. With an end-to-end solution, you will be able to leverage automation, industry best practices and compliant technologies to prepare, prevent, and rapidly respond to biological threats to keep people safe and maintain business continuity. And respecting and addressing privacy and confidentiality is also part of the solution. 

How it Works

ReturnSafe combines planning, screening, tracking, testing, and tracing to provide businesses with a holistic approach to preventing and responding to a COVID-19 outbreak. Under the guidance of our fractional medical officer, we work with our clients to create an action plan for returning to work in a safe way.

Employers manage their entire return to work program from a BioSecurity portal. Personnel responsible for workplace safety, risk management and HR will use this dashboard to manage all workplace locations. The employer creates and manages policies for returning to the office, working from home, restricting access to specific areas, managing alerts and notifications for personnel. In addition, the portal provides a central place to create, monitor and track information and manage risk. 

Screening Survey App

Employees use our phone or web application to provide screening information to their employers. Once they start returning to their place of work, they are notified to record their symptoms in our daily screening survey app. Based on their responses and other factors they receive a recommendation on whether they should go to work or stay at home. These policies governing these recommendations are customizable by office location and managed from the BioSecurity Portal. For visitors, customers and partners we offer a desktop app that can be stationed at a conveniently located kiosk on premise. We can also integrate temperature checks into the process.

Social Distancing Alarms & Contact Tracing

covid-19 screening app
Return to Work
Recommendations

Dependent upon the working conditions of the industry, we can add social distancing alarms to the system via phone alerts so that employees are proactively encouraged to adhere to physical distancing guidelines throughout the workday. Our solution also incorporates ongoing automated and manual contact tracing via our mobile app to track who is coming into close contact with whom just in case a mitigation effort is needed in the event someone comes down with COVID-19 coronavirus. The BioSecurity dashboard shows the exposed employees using Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi data so that they can be informed to isolate and get tested. We capture this data with our phone app that employees will have installed and optionally using a Bluetooth lanyard or wristband. We also provide manual contact tracing services to complement the automated system.

If an employee does exhibit symptoms they should get tested for COVID-19 coronavirus. And they can report test results in the app and optionally share their test results securely with their employer. We also provide an individualized vulnerability assessment so employers can request and pay for their employees to be tested either because a particular employee is at risk or to monitor what percentage of their employees are asymptomatic but positive for COVID-19 coronavirus.

BioSecurity Portal

Contact tracing HR dashboard
HR BioSecurity Portal

The business’ HR team monitors this entire process with real-time visibility via our BioSecurity Portal, allowing for rapid response to outbreak threats and managing regulatory compliance. As you can see, there are quite a few more steps to managing a safe return to work program than a simple screening survey app can provide. Therefore, if you are looking for an end-to-end BioSecurity solution to best deal with COVID-19, book a demo with us today to explore how we can help you lower the risk of your return to work plan. 

Learn how it works.

GPS vs Bluetooth Technology for Contact Tracing

GPS vs Bluetooth Technology for Contact Tracing

ThiOur objective with this post is to compile an objective analysis of the relative strengths and weaknesses of Bluetooth vs GPS for the purposes of contact tracing and how best to leverage them both for the purposes of contact tracing and social distance alarms.  

Definitions

  • Location | GPS: Global Positioning System (GPS) refers to the blended location information provided by Apple and Google mobile OS SDKs that combines GPS, Wifi & Cell Tower, Accelerometer data using Kalman filters, ML to increase accuracy beyond just GPS
  • Direct Proximity Detection | Bluetooth: refers to the use of Bluetooth to detect proximity with other Bluetooth devices running in the background.  

Basic Comparison

The question is do we use location history to infer when two people were in close proximity or do we use Bluetooth to actively detect proximity.

GPS vs. Bluetooth for contact tracing

GPS Negatives

Accuracy drops to unusable in subways. Can’t handle indoors and underground scenarios particularly well.

GPS collects exact location information and uses it to perform contact matching.  However, location data is highly sensitive and difficult to secure.  For instance, the use of GPS location data in fitness apps revealed the exact layout of US bases, and location data is so unique that 1000% anonymization is effectively impossible.  Deployment of location-based contact tracing at scale thus poses privacy and security risks if it can’t be completely secured.

GPS Battery Usage

The rate of battery usage is dependent on: accuracy, frequency, and latency. These parameters can be adjusted, but they trade off against one another.

The highest accuracy setting uses GPS and all other signals and inputs available, which significantly drains battery. The balanced accuracy setting uses less power, primarily relies on WIFI and cell signals, and only occasionally uses GPS.

https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/location/battery

Bluetooth Accuracy

Bluetooth based proximity detection “uses received signal strength indicator (RSSI) values to measure the signal strength between phones. Calibrated RSSI values are used to estimate the approximate distance between users during an encounter.” (Source)

Range: Up to 10 Meters

Bluetooth Negatives

iOS sometimes terminates the Bluetooth scanning when the app is running in the background. Does bluetooth need to be enabled during the entire time frame for it to work? (No, just bluetooth app permission enabled)

Foreground vs Background app

Medical Considerations

What % of cases are transmitted through the air vs. surfaces?

COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for potentially days, but if the % of cases that are spread through surfaces is insignificant, then the advantage of GPS+cell to track historical location becomes less relevant. I believe more research needs to be done on what proportion of cases are spread through surfaces.

What is a “safe distance” with respect to airborne transmission?

Maximum plausible distance to get infected so far: within 18ft of an infected person (in a closed air environment)

Passengers in a Wuhan bus got infected from 4.5m (15ft) away, within 30min:

COVID-19 spread through a bus

Aerosols dispersed at least 6ft away are still infectious (Bischoff).

Particles from a sneeze or cough can travel up to 2.5m (8ft) horizontally and up to 6m (20ft) vertically (which can reach air ducts & ventilation systems) (MIT).

This study analyzes the spread of SARS 1 on an aircraft (NEJM) (note for scale: 3 rows = 90 inches).

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