Campuses Turn to Surveillance Tech to Stem Spread of COVID-19

Beacons, smartphones, cameras and other technologies are being considered by campuses for contact tracing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Halting the spread of COVID-19 is challenging schools and universities as they prepare for the return of students in the fall.

To enforce social distancing as well as trace the contacts of students who test positive for the deadly respiratory disease, some campuses are planning to deploy technology such as tracking beacons, infrared cameras, smart cameras and mobile apps, reports Wired.

Because younger children normally don’t have smartphones, they may need specific devices that aren’t dependent on mobile phone technology. The New Albany-Plain (Ohio) school district will be testing a system requiring students to wear electronic beacons to track their locations throughout the day, including who they talk to and where this sit in classrooms.

This technology could help administrators determine if students are following social distancing protocols and identify someone who has been exposed to another person who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Some state universities in Massachusetts are also considering using beacons, reports Wired.

Contact tracing apps are another option for students with smartphones. The University of Arizona is developing such an app that would use Bluetooth signals sent between mobile phones to identify students who might be infected. Those individuals would then be tested and quarantined.

Other institutions of higher education are also developing different technologies, reports Wired. Potential security technologies that could be used for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes include smart card/identification card access control systems and video surveillance.

Of course, whatever campuses decide to use, they must ensure the data that’s collected is used correctly and complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The American Federation of Teachers issued guidance on how schools can safely reopen and provided the following recommendation to guard against the misuse of data by vendors:

“Establish rules, including contract language, that reassure faculty and students that corporate education vendors will not be using this crisis to enhance their data mining and in turn appropriate that data to expand prefabricated curriculum.”

This article first appeared on SSI sister publication

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One response to “Campuses Turn to Surveillance Tech to Stem Spread of COVID-19”

  1. Ezeakonam says:

    This really interesting, I have heard the news many times, even in all the major news channels but I am still waiting for the implementation. However, you are right, not everyone owns a smartphone and I wonder what type of device they’re planning to introduce to be able to track those without face masks.
    The technology should also be extended to the general public and not just on campuses only. may God heal the world.

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