A global innovator of indoor location solutions, Pointr helps businesses create immersive location experiences that improve operations in their physical space. Now, Pointr is leveraging Bluetooth® technology to enable safe distancing, contact tracing, and occupancy management inside buildings.

I had an opportunity to hear from Pointr CEO Ege Akpinar about their ongoing efforts to develop solutions that will help speed recovery and support business reopening post COVID-19.

“Bluetooth® technology is the best solution available today for contact tracing and other safe-return solutions. It is reliable, easy to deploy, data privacy friendly, and available on 100% of smartphones worldwide. It is no wonder Apple and Google also chose Bluetooth technology for their contact tracing API and we fully agree.” 
– Ege Akpinar, Pointr

Q&A with Ege Akpinar

What are some of the challenges that large venues, such as offices, conference centers, and retail stores, must face and address in order to safely reopen post COVID-19?

After the initial shock of lockdown, large venues are looking to reopen in a way that ensures business continuity. COVID-19 presents several challenges: How do I reopen my workplace in a way that is safe for my employees? How do I prevent the spread of COVID -19 in the facilities? How do I ensure business continuity even if new COVID-19 cases occur among staff? How do I reassure employees that it’s safe to go to work?

What role will technology play in reopening large public venues and buildings?

Contact-tracing apps have a key role to play in helping our societies ease lockdown. By being able to alert people who have had contact with others who tested positive, you ensure that those at risk stay at home. Life can start looking more normal again for everyone else. That’s why governments and businesses globally are so keen to launch such apps and roll them out quickly.

How can Bluetooth technology be used to support reopening initiatives?

Bluetooth® connectivity and IoT technology have a critical role to play to enable safe distancing and contact tracing inside buildings. We decided to repurpose our existing indoor location technology to create a back-to-work solution from scratch, using Bluetooth Low Energy. The result is WorkSafe, a contact-tracing solution for workplaces.

Bluetooth is the best technology available today for digital contact tracing. It enables apps to create a handshake to record an interaction between people’s smartphones. Bluetooth technology is ubiquitous (available in 100% of smartphones worldwide), reliable, easy to deploy, and data-privacy friendly. That’s why it’s the technology chosen by Google and Apple for exposure notification

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What other ways can Bluetooth technology play a role in helping public venues and buildings reopen safely?

In addition to contact tracing, WorkSafe leverages Bluetooth® technology for occupancy management, cleaning compliance, congestion monitoring, and safe wayfinding.

With WorkSafe, building managers are able to view how many people are on the premises at any given time. They can set maximum occupancy limits at the building level and view occupancy counts in specific zones to ensure there’s no overcrowding. Employers can use heatmaps to see how staggering the arrival and departure times of employees impact congestion.

Facility managers can also replay paths of users who tested positive for infection control. They can track cleaning efficiently to ensure sanitization compliance. With location-based alerts, they can temporarily close a specific zone and inform visitors and employees if it’s not safe to go there. They can create safe routes for employees and visitors that are accessible via an app.

All these location services, powered by Bluetooth technology, are very useful for large buildings, such as corporate offices, warehouses, airports, hospitals, shopping malls, stadiums, universities, and conference venues.

Can you talk about a project that has been implemented, is currently underway, or is in plan that uses Bluetooth technology to help reopen public venues, offices, etc. due to COVID-19?

Pointr’s Deep Location technology is live across more than 1,000 buildings globally. This includes corporate campuses, retail stores, airports, and hospitals. We work with large companies, such as Honeywell, Panasonic Lighting, Current by GE, Extreme Networks, and many others, to reopen workplaces and other large buildings.

For example, we deploy WorkSafe at large US workplaces.

As employees enter the building, they are automatically checked in using GPS geofencing. No need to take the phone out of the pocket.

Using Bluetooth technology, the app automatically detects that a phone is near. Employers can monitor how many people are in the building at any given time and set maximum occupancy levels.

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they share their daily anonymized WorkSafe ID with their HR manager. The employer can then notify at-risk employees that came close to the person who tested positive. Their anonymity is preserved by default. It allows employers to react quickly to protect employees and ensure business continuity. 

Building managers are able to guide employees through the building with smartphone wayfinding that knows the safe routes. They can replay paths of users who tested positive for infection control and cleaning compliance.

What benefits will this solution bring to our ability to reopen public venues, offices, etc.?

With contact tracing, companies can ensure they prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their buildings. They can avoid a shutdown and ensure business continuity while keeping employees and visitors safe. A solution like WorkSafe is efficient and preserves data privacy. It is quick and easy to install and proven in the market.

Reopening buildings is just the start. Once buildings are enabled with Bluetooth® technology, businesses can use a range of location-based services and analytics that they didn’t have access to before: smart assistants, indoor wayfinding, location sharing, heatmaps, occupancy analytics, and more.

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