Europe’s second largest port will road-test special-made bracelets, as the continent tries to revive its economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A team of workers at the port of Antwerp, in Belgium, will wear tech-enabled bracelets next month. The bracelets—originally developed to help trace overboard tugboat crew members—vibrate when less than three meters (around ten feet) from each other.
The port hopes the bracelets will help enforce a culture of social distancing, which medical consensus agrees is a key component of maintaining a healthy society as countries move out of lockdowns across the world. If successful, the bracelets could be rolled out across the port’s 900 companies, which handle over 200 million tons of freight each year.
“You have a helmet, and your safety shoes, and you have swimming vests. All these kinds of things,” said Antwerp Port chief technology officer Erwin Verstaelen. “And now we’re adding a wearable on top of that to make sure that people are safe. And if something goes wrong, that it is being detected as soon as possible.”
Using technology to combat the spread of Coronavirus has come under intense scrutiny in Europe – particularly in Germany, which has some of the world’s most stringent privacy laws. European Commission guidance says any such platform must be managed by health authorities and dismantled once their use is completed.