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What started as an idea for a simple social distancing alert system developed by an Australian production company to help restart events in the wake of a global pandemic has evolved into a dynamic, automated safety device being adopted by multiple industries navigating the challenges of Covid-19. “Harry the hirer was looking for something to try and help the events industry get back up on its feet as quickly as possible,” says Brad Johnson, national sales manager for Smart Badge, a subsidiary of Australian events industry heavyweight Harry the hirer. “Our business went from 1,000 staff down to about 50 in about the space of a week, so we were obviously very motivated to find something that would get the events industry as a whole back. “We wanted it to be an automated system where each device wearer was alerted automatically to say, ‘You’re too close, step back’.” Fast forward eight months and there are 55,000 Smart Badges in Australia, which also have contract tracing abilities. The Smart Badge works by using Bluetooth to detect proximity to other Smart Badges and using nodes placed around a site to scrape data from nearby badges to upload to a cloud which stores each Badge interaction. “If we have nodes in a room and the badges are always in range of those nodes then the [contract tracing] data is 100% live down to about three seconds of being uploaded from the time that it happens to being visible on the [organiser’s] dashboard,” says Johnson. For added security, contact details of the badge holder – which can be added via bulk registrations or scanning a QR code – and contract tracing information are stored separately and only brought together if a contract tracing check is completed. Companies and event organisers can also anonymise details of who has each device. In addition, the nodes act as capacity monitors, letting organisers know in real time how many people are in a space. Badges can also be modified to allow groups known to each other to be within 1.5m of one another. And there are other features in the pipeline. “On our development roadmap there is certainly a geo mapping, heat mapping system,” says Johnson. “If we have nodes set up in certain locations in a space, you can understand how many people would be standing out the front of [for example] an expo booth. “That data is pretty powerful stuff whether you use it in real time or historically. How does an exhibitor use that data or how does an organiser use that data?” Johnson believes it could be used to inform better stand design and orientation and help organisers demonstrate opportunity for return on investment for exhibitors. The implications of this are significant for association gatherings which are often financially supported by their exhibition component. But, with Melbourne’s restrictions easing only recently and events slowly restarting in many parts of Australia, the Smart Badge’s initial development – and current usage – has been driven by a less obvious source. “As we put the idea in front of our events clients, there was a real [realisation that] this [wasn’t] just an event specific product, particularly once we got to the contract tracing development side of it,” says Johnson. “It became apparent that every industry, every business, Australia wide or globally, has… a need to do contract tracing and under the current conditions, social distancing was really a relevant thing as well. “It became, rather than an events-specific product, almost a workplace safety product for any industry and any business.” As well as the event-friendly lanyard design, the device also comes in a wristwatch style, and in a waterproof version. “The devices all look exactly the same but there’s been a lot of changes to the devices as a result of conversations with various businesses and what their requirements are. “We’re developing the idea of RFID or HID access into a swipe card system where the device will do your swipe access into a building and social distance you and give you a contract tracing solution at the same time – an all in one [device] and that gives it longevity after coronavirus,” says Johnson. The next iteration of the Smart Badge is in development with “increased functionality to make it more of a general product as well as Covid specific”. “There’s a big list of things that we could put in them and we’re making a very conscious decision to say, ‘Let’s be specialists in some things’ – we don’t want to try to take on Apple or Samsung, because they do everything. We just want to be very good at a few things and make them business specific and still have the ability to tailor it to certain businesses or certain industries,” Johnson adds But for right now, the contract tracing element of the Badge is its biggest drawcard. “The thing that differentiates us mostly from every other player in this market at the moment – and it’s a pretty hot little market, there are businesses popping up all over the world doing similar things – [is] the fact that ours is an automated and real time data system. There’s a lot of real intuitive functionality that we’ve designed into the backend [and] no other system that we’ve found can do any of that,” says Johnson. Discover more about Australia as a business events destination at australia.com/businessevents
SYDNEY, Australia — Authorities are searching for the source of an emerging COVID-19 cluster in Sydney’s northern coastal suburbs. Australia’s largest city had gone 12 consecutive days without community transmission until Wednesday when a driver who transported international air crews in a van to and from Sydney Airport tested positive. By Thursday, six people had been infected with the virus though community transmission in Sydney, as well as six returned travelers who had been infected overseas and tested positive while in hotel quarantine. The new infections include a woman who works at
Today’s top news: South Korea’s prime minister urges people to abide by distancing rules to avoid a tougher lockdown. Only 27 per cent of Japanese adults think the Tokyo Olympic Games should go ahead next year. Most US states follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on vaccination priorities.
Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand cabinet has agreed to a proposal for a trans-Tasman travel bubble; strong winds and heavy rain forecast to continue in parts of Queensland’s south-east and northern NSW. Follow all the latest news updates• Follow coronavirus global news live
Two senators are making a last-ditch effort to craft a compromise on one of the biggest issues standing in the way of a COVID-19 relief deal.Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Angus King (I-Maine) are holding conversations on coronavirus liability protections for businesses and other organizations in an attempt to find common ground where other senators have failed. Even if they reach a deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will...
The Australian government has invested 4 million Australian dollars for a joint study, along with Indian researchers, into the long-term health effects of COVID-19 and its early detection, the Australian Industry, Science and Technology minister announced on Thursday. The Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) is financing six new projects, ranging from farming technology to coronavirus detection.
Through the collaboration, CN Bio’s Sydney-based distributor, AXT, will provide the University of Melbourne access to the Company’s proprietary PhysioMimix™ Organ-on-Chip system, to create a more human-relevant COVID-infected lung culture than current in vitro standards that use monkey fibroblasts
The Guardian: Australia’s initial vaccine rollout unlikely to stop Covid transmission, study finds (Davey, 12/14). The Hill: U.S. begins COVID-19 vaccinations in moment of hope (Hellmann, 12/14). The Hill: Health official warns Brazil may not get mass vaccinations until March (Coleman, 12/14). New York Times: ‘Playing With Lives’: Brazil’s Covid Vaccine Plan Is Mired in<span class="readmore-ellipsis">…</span><a href="https://www.kff.org/news-summary/u-s-canada-begin-covid-19-vaccinations-media-outlets-report-on-other-vaccine-related-news-from-australia-brazil/" class="see-more light-beige no-float inline-readmore">More</a></p>
A new report, Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social Protection in High Income Countries, produced by the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti explores how the social and economic impact of the pandemic has affected children, finding that Australia was a world leader in providing support packages specifically designed for families and children, one of only three countries to do so.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A firebrand Indonesian cleric turned himself in to authorities Saturday after he was accused of inciting people to breach pandemic restrictions by holding events with large crowds. Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front, arrived at Jakarta police headquarters a day after police warned they would arrest him after he ignored several summonses. Wearing a white robe, turban and face mask, Shihab told reporters...
PARIS (AP) — During their daily morning round of the intensive care unit, hospital staffers and medical students pause outside room No. 10, abruptly emptied of the patient who lost his nearly month-long battle against COVID-19 the previous evening. The man died at 6:12 p.m., the medic leading the briefing tells the group. There is a short hush. And then they walk on. Even for ICU workers for whom death is a constant — and never more so than this...
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister says his government will not rush approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine because he wants Australians to have confidence in the product. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that Australia is in a different position to Britain, which has given emergency approval to the roll out, and to the United
Australian and Indian researchers will work together to advance Covid-19 screening and study the future health effects of the virus, after a nearly $4 million investment by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in Canberra. The Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) has funded six new projects, including one to develop Covid-19 diagnostic technologies and another
Less than two weeks from Christmas, at least 39,000 citizens and permanent residents are still stranded overseas due to Australia's international arrival caps. Hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh now seems like the only option for those wanting to make it home for the holidays.
South Korean drug firm Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corp. said Monday that it has won approval from Australia's drug authorities to begin a phase three clinical trial for coronavirus treatment with its acute pancreatitis drug. The drug, Nafabeltan, will be administered to patients as part of the Australian government-led clinical study to find a COVID-19 treatment. The drug is currently used as a blood anticoagulan...
With returned travellers in Victoria's hotel quarantine system testing positive to coronavirus, there is a risk of the virus escaping again. Medical officials are looking very closely at how improving ventilation in the "hot" hotels can prevent that happening.
The financial burden caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been huge on the tournaments. The Australian Open 2021 is also facing the same. With a heavy drop in profit expected in 2021, the Australian Open received monetary help from the Australian government. The organizers of the Australian Open, Tennis Australia recorded a drop in profits. […]
NEW YORK — Indoor dining restrictions will be reinstated in New York City on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. Only takeout orders and outdoor dining will be allowed. Nearly 1,700 patients are hospitalized in the city with the coronavirus, triple the number a month ago. The government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, spoke with Cuomo by livestream this week, noting he expects hospitalizations to keep increasing until...
Child poverty is expected to remain above pre-COVID levels for at least five years in high-income countries globally, a likely increase on the one in six Australian children living below the poverty line. Yet, only 2 per cent of government-provided financial relief across OECD and EU countries was allocated to support children and families raising children during the first wave of the pandemic, according to a new UNICEF report. With upcoming reductions to social security payments, Australia now risks backtracking on its strong leadership in this space.