Page 57 - Security Today, October 2020
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rooms or subway cars. Today, schools are looking into the same technol- ogy to battle COVID-19. District of Columbia’s largest charter school network - KIPP DC is installing UVC lights as part of a larger HVAC engineering upgrade. The UVC lights will be installed into large build- ing handlers where they will kill viruses in the air regularly passing through the system’s filters.
Other schools are taking advantage of newer technology safer for humans. A new type of UV light called far-UVC has been deemed effec- tive in killing more than 99.9 percent of coronaviruses present in air- borne droplets, and safe for human exposure, according to a new study at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Schools are already adopting this new technology to battle COVID- 19 in hallways and classrooms. Queen's Grant High School in Matthews, NC, is installing far-UVC lights into its HVAC system to kill airborne viruses and bacteria. Queen's Grant High School principal Josh Swartz- lander told CNN the charter school enrolled 20 new students right after announcing the new safety measure.
Contact Tracing Apps
World health experts have been relying on contact tracing to measure and prevent viral spread since the dawn of COVID-19. Now, a myriad of contact tracing apps marketed to college campuses are available. These apps rely on Bluetooth technology to send out notifications when two smartphone owners approach each other. Students and alumni are rac- ing to develop apps for campuses. Two computer science students at the University of Virginia, and one at the University of Notre Dame, devel- oped contact tracing app TraceX. The University of Alabama is also working on a similar Bluetooth-based COVID-tracking app in collabo- ration with the Alabama Department of Health. According to a news article in, the app would notify users if they spent about 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who later tested positive.
There has been hearty debate on the effectiveness and privacy of
mobile contact tracing apps. These apps depend on users to log in their own information. Also, some of these apps incorporate GPS tracking, leaving users and human rights groups weary of privacy infringement.
Automated Contact Tracing Without Apps
Other companies are enhancing existing technology to meet the demand of K-12 schools without using mobile applications. CENTEGIX announced ContactAlertTM, a platform extension of its emergency response solution CrisisAlertTM. ContactAlert leverages CENTEGIX’s private security and location network and panic button badges already being worn by staff. The locating capability is used to determine which staff members have been in proximity — such as in the same room —to each other for a designated exposure time period. The technology can also be used for visitors entering the school so employees can be better protected against infections coming from outside. It doesn’t rely on users logging into a system and automated messaging eliminates extra hours by administrators having to contact people.
“An important part of contact tracing is knowing where people have been, and knowing how the power of technology fits into this,” said Dean Olds, vice president of innovation at CENTEGIX. “We had to meet the challenge of providing the data and presenting it in a way that’s confidential and anonymous to protect the teachers and staff.”
As the fall semester quickly approaches, schools will need to invest in technology, personnel or both to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff. From monitoring temperatures, killing viruses in the air to contact tracing, technology is clearly valuable in preventing entry and spread of COVID-19 while minimizing disruption and pro- tecting students and staff from discrimination. Schools will benefit by investing in technology that has a dual purpose of not only combatting COVID-19, but addressing other campus needs as well.
Mike Johnson is the managing director of Clearpath Alerts LLC. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 13

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