Navy considers wearables for proximity tracking

The Naval Sea Systems Command is looking for wearable tracking devices so it can tell when staff members might have been exposed to a COVID-positive person at work.

The Navy is looking for a way to track personnel to identify those who might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

In a recent request for information, the Naval Sea Systems Command is seeking technologies for a proximity tracking program that features wearable tracking devices and a storage and processing component, which could be a local, standalone server or laptop. In addition to the standalone station, NAVSEA also wants a cloud solution that can transfer the proximity records to another database, such as a CRM solution or digital medical records system.

The system would calculate the total time and at what distance two individuals with the wearables have been in close contact by estimating the distance between the wearables, recording the identifying information of the wearers’ devices as well as the date and time of the measurement. The devices can also provide haptic or audible feedback to wearers when they are within 6 feet of another individual.

Readings will be taken several times a day, and the records will be transferred to a central records stations where analytics will assist proximity tracking program administrators.

Rather than have all personnel distancing themselves from each other, NAVSEA wants teams working together to be treated differently by the software. The wearables, it said, should be configured so they don’t issue alerts or provide data on members of the same team in close proximity, but they must record instances when a device worn by a member of different group gets too close.

To protect the privacy of those wearing the tracking devices, which could be clipped onto a lanyard or worn as a bracelet, the system will not store any personally identifiable information or personal health information. The wearable may not use Wi-Fi or other wireless technology to measure distance, nor GPS or other sensors that might reveal the wearer’s location. It must also be possible to upgrade the firmware on the wearable to address security vulnerabilities and add features.

The data from the system will help NAVSEA tell which staff members might have been in close contact for too long with an infected person and determine if social distancing policies are effective.

Read the full RFI here.

This article first appeared on GCN, a Defense Systems partner site.