Aguru Business Solutions (Aguru), a company specialising in automation and digital transformation advisory and project management services, has successfully completed a Proof of Concept (PoC) trial of its Safe-Trace Contact Tracing system at Adcock Ingram Critical Care (AICC).
Aguru conceptualised and led the development of the system, with the aim to assist employers, medical practitioners and authorities with contact tracing. The company partnered with Hive-IOT, a Johannesburg-based organisation that specialises in the design and build of advanced Internet of Things (IoT) and Information Technology and Communications (ICT) systems for industrial environments. While working remotely from their home offices during lockdown, the team built an internal proof of concept from spare parts.
“Lockdown brought a new challenge to our agile development process,” says Altmar Du Toit, director and co-founder at Hive-IOT. “Aguru was clear in its vision of the system and our engineers had to be innovative to work to the schedule. Initially all work was done from home.”
On 30 April, Aguru announced the Safe-Trace Contact Tracing solution to the market. Adcock Ingram Critical Care was one of the first companies to evaluate the system in late May, and committed the first order for a PoC deployment.
“When our first COVID-19 infection was reported at the Aeroton factory, we knew that we had to work quickly in order to accelerate the contact tracing process,” says Lucelle Iyer, head of Quality Assurance, Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at AICC. “We partnered with Aguru and Hive-IOT to provide a practical contact tracing solution.”
In the design specification of the system, Aguru noted a number of key concerns to be addressed:
1. Internationally, most authorities were aiming for a mobile app solution, but two major concerns were identified: firstly, low adoption of smartphones in Africa and, secondly, concerns about privacy with smart devices tracking user location through GPS and triangulation.
2. The system had to be simple and effective, without complex decision making and fiddly configurations seen in the mobile apps.
3. The technology had to be familiar to the average person, as there was no time to familiarise the general public with unknown terminology.
4. The requirements of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) had to be considered when managing data.
The system requires users to carry a Bluetooth enabled device that registers contact when the devices are within 2 m of one another. The devices only store time stamps and digital identification numbers, thus avoiding any risk of personal information being recorded. The information is uploaded to a secure cloud when the device is in the proximity of a strategically placed gateway that is connected to the Internet. If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, only an authorised administrator can initiate a trace and get a report of all the devices that were in contact with the diagnosed person’s device. This list can then be mapped by the employer to inform the traced contacts to go for testing and quarantine.
“There are more than 1000 employees based at our Aeroton site, so manual contact tracing is too time consuming to build a manual trace record,” explains Iyer. “The Safe-Trace system assisted us to track who had contact with the infected person and we were instantly able to generate a report. This information will assist our facility to manage the tracing of all possible contacts. The working relationship between Aguru and Hive-IOT has been seamless in terms of meeting our needs.”
Commenting on the development of the system, Johan Louw, founder of Aguru, said: “When lockdown started, we knew time was of the essence. We had to get help to the authorities by using 4IR technology. We got to work and partnered with a team with proven capabilities. We are extremely impressed with Hive-IOT and also the teams from sister company, The AM Group. This collaboration demonstrates our partnership model is working and we can bring together the best of South African digital engineering to face real-world challenges.”
In addition to Safe-Trace, Aguru represents a range of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions focusing on employee asset, physical asset and data asset management. This includes COVID-19 related employee safety, telemedicine, as well as digital maintenance and production management solutions that support social distancing and remote working practices.
For more on the operation and capabilities of the Safe-Trace platform visit https://instrumentation.co.za/papers/EI&C65.pdf
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