Bracelet tracking coming
Amber Group's US$400,000 COVID-19 gift includes technology for tighter monitoring of people in home quarantineThursday, June 04, 2020
BY ARTHUR HALL
THE Amber Group, after dipping into its coffers for millions of dollars to establish the jamcovid19 website and mobile app, has turned its attention to developing technology to help with monitoring the increased number of people expected to be home quarantined with the recent opening of the country's borders.
The jamcovid19 website and mobile app were developed through collaboration between the Government and the Amber Group, to provide an easy-to-use centralised source for all COVID-19-related information and services.
This includes a self-reporting and monitoring portal, latest data and statistics on COVID-19, direct links to emergency services, knowledge resources on COVID-19, and a controlled re-entry immigration section that allows Jamaicans stranded overseas to apply for authorisation to return to the country.
Founder and CEO of the Amber Group Dushyant Savadia told the Jamaica Observerthat when the novel coronavirus pandemic started the company began exploring how it could contribute to Jamaica's fight against the threat.
“At the Amber Group our entire strength is technology. We have Amber Connect which is our vehicle tracking and fleet management solution. We also have Amber Innovations which is a software development company… and we have more than 200 developers working for us in-house,” said Savadia.
“We have so many technology products, so contributing through technology was the right fit for us to give back to our country,” added Savadia.
He said, with developers in South Africa, India, and Jamaica, the Amber Group was in a position to help at no cost to the country, despite the high cost of the website and mobile app.
“I don't like putting a price on charity, but if we look at the value of the entire product it would easily exceed US$400,000 [approximately $57 million],” said Savadia.
“The entire solution has been provided free of cost to the Government. To date we have not charged a single cent to the Government for the support we have provided through the Amber Group not even a cent,” declared Savadia, who first came to Jamaica in 2012 on a humanitarian mission for the Arts of Living Foundation and has since established the home base of the Amber Group here.
“When this is your home you do everything you can to protect your home. When Jamaica is safe and Jamaica is able to economically move forward faster it brings a necessary good to the nation and its people and all the businesses.
“So for me it is not just about doing something for the Government of Jamaica, it is about doing something for our society so that we can move out of this crisis faster,” said Savadia.
He told the Observer that the group will now turn its attention to tracking the increased number of people who will be quarantined at home.
At present, the Government is using geofencing technology through telephones to checked if the quarantined person is in the location where they are slated to be.
“If the person is not at that location, then it creates an alert in the back end for the JCF [Jamaica Constabulary Force] command centre to see that this person is not in the quarantine location and for the police to take the necessary action.
“There is a second layer built into it that is called video checking, which means that a few times a day, at random times, the person who is at home quarantined would get a notification on their app with a four digit code. Once they get the notification they need to do a video check-in,” said Savadia.
But with the increased number of people returning to the island bracelets could be used to ensure that they obey the home quarantine.
“Bracelet tracking is not something that is uncommon and somehow it would become a necessity at some point when the traffic is high, and then you want the high-risk people to be better monitored,” said Savadia.
He was supported by managing director of the Amber Group Michael McNaughton, who told the Observer that his team worked 24 hours each day to create the jamcovid19 website and mobile app, based on the urgency of the need.
“It had to be deployed quickly [because] we had all of these Jamaicans overseas who really needed to come back. We just pulled out all the stops.
“After meeting with all the stake holders the core solution would have taken us three or four days, but when we added some of the functionalities that the Government required to cover things like immigration and persons making appointments at test centres … and there is a donation element, which has not been deployed but is available on the app, it took a further few days,” said McNaughton.
He noted that for people quarantined in the home environment it will be a little bit more difficult to track them, so the Amber Group included capabilities in the system like tracking bracelets.
“This by no means is intended to be intrusive. It is intended to basically put things in place so we can protect the people of Jamaica.
“All this will have to be approved by the person coming in. So if the person coming in says, 'I have no problem with being tracked, I have no problem in being limited to stay for a short quarantine period at home,' it is a no-brainer,” said McNaughton.
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