This spring, managers at a 2,200-person European construction site discovered that a worker had contracted COVID-19. It was critical to find out where he had been during his time on the 70-story tower project.
To help trace the sick worker's movements, they turned to a technology already in use on the site. WakeCap hard-hat devices track the location of workers in order to improve efficiency and safety, but construction managers realized the wearable system might be able to help them recreate the affected worker's interactions with others.
Within just a few hours, WakeCap officials provided a list of everyone, including subcontractors, who had been in close contact with the worker over an extended time, as well as a map of his movements across the site. The list also pinpointed those who spent an extended amount of time with the infected worker so managers could determine who might need to be quarantined.
Launched in 2017, WakeCap is a resident of the Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco. The system is being used on active projects in the United States and the Middle East by contractors such as AECOM and Besix.
The WakeCap system consists of a lightweight device that attaches to a hard hat and a collection of wall-mounted, battery-operated "anchors" that create a wireless network on a jobsite that is viewable through a customizable dashboard.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the system has been used by many firms not only to get insights on safety and productivity, but also to track social distancing protocols, according to Stephan Mansour, director of business development and account management. Users can tailor WakeCap to adhere to any local requirements.
In addition to identifying workers and subs who might be at risk, Mansour said the system can also:
- Identify which work areas are affected and need to be disinfected.
- Identify which disciplines are affected and will need to be supplemented in order to ensure work continuity.
- Ensure quarantined workers do not enter the project site unless cleared by a safety official.
- Ensure densely populated areas never have more people than specified.
- Provide compliance lists to governments and regulatory bodies requiring contact tracing reports.
Mansour would not release specific cost information but said the company offers plans tailored to each client and project site.
To address privacy and security concerns, WakeCap’s virtual site map is largely self-contained and is not connected to any other geolocation data, according to an Autodesk blog, and there are no cameras or GPS receivers in the hard-hat units.