An app that encourages social distancing in the workplace has been created to help make offices safer.
Mind The Gap is an app which gives you an alert if your social distancing limits are being breached, for instance if a workmate gets too close to you in a meeting or during lunch.
The app, created by start-up company Hack Partners, uses Bluetooth and sound signals to check how close people are to each other, and gives you a notification if you’re too close. As people begin returning to offices after long periods of working from home, maintaining good social distancing practices is a vital part of staying safe, which is where this app could really make a difference.
How does the app work?
Employees who are going to use Mind The Gap must first download the app, then set the appropriate social distance, which can be set in line with current government guidelines.
The app then uses high-frequency audio and Bluetooth to establish how close people are to each other, with app users being alerted with a sound or vibration notification if they are getting too close.
Since the app uses Bluetooth and sound, you don’t even need to be connected to the internet, nor will it use your data allowance. As for privacy concerns, Mind The Gap does not track users nor does it save, share or collect any personal data.
So your boss won’t be able to use it to check up on your movements. However, the app does need to work in the background which means it could be a drain on your phone’s battery
Contact-tracing apps have been used as a means to help the battle against Coronavirus in a number of countries, however many of the apps have reported difficulties with accurately measuring distances. The developers of Mind The Gap say that the combination of Bluetooth and audio measuring tech gives an accurate measurement of distance by 6-8cm. Hack Partners is now in talks with other developers who are struggling with accuracy in their own contact tracing apps.
River Tamoor Baig, chief executive of Hack Partners said "It's very easy to relax back into old patterns with colleagues and forget to distance, so this is a reminder. Also, the sound notification can help users avoid awkward conversations with colleagues who may not be social distancing - a lot of us would find it difficult to tell our boss to move away."
The Mind The Gap app is currently being used by employees of Network Rail, where staff have begun to return to the office, on an optional basis. Martin Frobisher, Network Rail's safety, technical and engineering director said: "I am immensely proud of our entire workforce for the part they have played to keep the country running throughout the pandemic. As we start to plan for a return to office working, we've been looking at absolutely everything to make sure we can continue to keep our people safe."
Mind The Gap is available for download on both Android and iOS devices.
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