The Southeastern Conference is providing student-athletes cutting edge proximity devices to enhance COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, the league announced Tuesday.
Produced by global technology leader KINEXON, all 14 schools in the SEC will receive lightweight, wearable devices called SafeTags for the 2020 football season, which will be used at team facilities and during practices and games.
SafeTags, which utilizes KINEXON SafeZone technology, is approximately the size of a watch face and can be worn as a wristband, on a lanyard, or can be built into equipment for on-field use during practices and games.
“Through this new relationship with KINEXON, the SEC is committed to using innovative technology to provide solutions for use by our member institutions as we all work to support a healthy environment for student-athletes,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “KINEXON provides the SEC with a modern and effective solution to meet the unique contact tracing challenges associated with football.”
Back in July, both the NBA and NFL announced they would be using SafeZone technology for their respective seasons, with the former on the cusp of crowning a champion in an Orlando bubble and the latter making it through two full weeks of the season with little-to-no hiccups out of tens of thousands of tests.
According to the release, this technology has been chosen by the SEC for the sport of football due to the large number of participating student-athletes and the complexity of contact tracing unique to the sport. Determining proximity and length of interaction during football games presents an opportunity to use KINEXON’s innovative technology due to the number of players on the field and the speed of the game.
“SafeZone was created to meet the unprecedented challenges teams and leagues were facing while identifying solutions to return to play safely,” said KINEXON Executive Vice President Jim Garofalo. “By adopting our technology, the SEC remains at the forefront of innovation in college athletics. SafeZone will provide student-athletes with a proven modern approach to contact tracing.”
SafeZone uses ultra-wideband technology to accurately calculate the proximity between individuals by distance and length of time in order to perform quick and accurate contact tracing when someone is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19. The contact data is logged in a secure system and can be accessed to contact trace in the event of an infection.
The SafeTags can also be used to enforce physical distancing regulations by flashing a red warning light when people are within six feet of each other.
Contact tracing has long been recognized by public health experts as one of the most effective strategies to limit the spread of infectious disease. Contact tracing is a key element in the SEC’s COVID-19 management plan, among a set of protocols that employ testing, physical distancing and facility sanitization.