In a potential preview of office life to come as states and municipalities across the country begin to reopen their economies, Big 4 firm PwC is developing a contact tracing tool that will enable executives and HR to notify employees who have had contact with an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. The mobile app is currently being tested in the firm’s Shanghai office with plans to roll it out to the entire 275,000-person workforce before offering it to corporate clients.
Using signals from users’ phones, the app can tell how far away and for how long two people were in contact. If someone at a workplace tests positive for the virus, HR can then look up which other employees are at the highest risk using the digital contact tracing system, helping to pinpoint infection sites so that entire offices or floors aren’t shut down from a single confirmed case.
While governments around the world are grappling with the question of how to implement widespread contact tracing across massive populations, PwC believes its solution will allow companies to get out in front of the issue since they can compel usage among their workforces. The firm also stresses that the app has robust privacy, access and retention controls in place to ensure that only company administrators can access the data – another major sticking point facing contact tracing proposals for the general public.
PwC will begin selling the software starting in mid-May with a subscription fee as part of a suite of tools for remote work.