The Straits Times
Workers in S'pore industries using flammable gas get special contact tracing devices
SINGAPORE, 11 January 2021 – Shell has started a digital contact tracing pilot that involves the use of a customised Bluetooth token designed to work safely in areas where flammable gases are present.
Some 4,000 Shell process workers and visitors at its Pulau Bukom manufacturing site will receive the BluePass tokens, allowing them to be tracked everywhere on the site. Previously, digital contact tracing was not possible in areas with traces of flammable gases.
The tokens – which were developed by Temasek-owned cryptographic technology firm D’Crypt – work in the same way as Trace Together tokens, tracking close contacts by reading Bluetooth signal strengths.
While the BluePass tokens have yet to be officially certified as intrinsically safe (IS), Shell has done its own internal evaluations to ensure that the devices are safe for use. The IS label denotes equipment that cannot cause the ignition of flammable material, and workers cannot bring non-IS certified equipment into certain work-sites.
It is for the same reason that the process workers cannot bring in the usual TraceTogether tokens or mobile phones with contact tracing apps.
Before using BluePass, Shell had to rely on “pen and paper” methods for contact tracing, said D’Crypt chief executive Antony Ng.
D’Crypt had to reduce the standard battery size by about half to ensure that the devices will not cause an explosion.
“If the device carries very little energy… the chance that it will spark or ignite is, of course, lower,” said Dr Ng.
The devices are designed to be strapped onto wrists so that they can be worn constantly to reduce electrostatic discharge, and the modified ones are made even sleeker so workers can easily put them on.
A Shell spokesman said that the tokens will be distributed in phases, and if the pilot is successful, there are plans to expand the distribution to its other Shell sites in Singapore…
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