On the podcast: Possibilities and limitations of digital contact tracing

Matt Harris: So contact tracing has become a critical piece of the puzzle of returning back to the workplace.;

Lee: Matt Harris is the head of workplace & technology at Envoy.

Matt: What that means is that I am trying to identify the technologies and systems and tools that we need to put in place to support our employees and all the folks who come into our front door, or now our virtual front door.

Lee: Envoy officially launched Protect in early October of 2020. And according to a press release from Envoy, they had more than 5,000 companies sign up. I wonder if you could talk a bit about that product itself. And maybe more specifically, what are some of the problems that you’re hoping to solve with that solution?

Matt: The way we see contact tracing working is, you want to answer the question at a basic level, “I know someone who is infected, and I want to know who was also in that place at the same time.” At an office environment, in some cases, you do have a lot of consistent individuals coming in every single day. In an office environment, you also have visitors, you have contractors, you have consultants, you have building staff. You want to know all of the individuals who were there that day and could have had an interaction with that person who’s now been found to have COVID. Apple and Google both released a contact tracing API for their platforms. They’re working with government health teams to try and create something that works regardless of the location. What we’re hearing from our customers and what we’ve heard as we were talking with folks is that being able to be as specific as possible is kind of the key differentiator for a contact tracing solution.

Lee: Envoy says it’s planning to raise a Series C once more employees have returned to the office. As they believe higher office usage rates will facilitate their ability to demonstrate product viability to investors. But they aren’t the only company to add a contact tracing feature to its workplace toolkit. Similar companies that provide workplace management software like Condeco[9], CareValidate[10] and Hipla Technologies[11] have all added contact tracing to their suite of tools.

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