An example of a credential with the COVID-19 contact tracing technology TraceSafe is shown in this undated handout photo. What looks like a thin pack of gum is attached Braden Schneider's event credential at the world junior hockey championship in Edmonton. It's a beacon providing contact-tracing capability should the Canadian defenceman test positive for the COVID-19 virus. It also warns him if he stands to close to someone else for too long. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - TraceSafe MANDATORY CREDIT

Wearable tech a defence against COVID-19 in world junior tournament ‘bubble’

TraceSafe’s wearable technology is Hockey Canada’s extra layer of defence against the spread of the virus in the world junior tournament

What looks like a thin pack of gum is attached to Braden Schneider’s event credential at the world junior hockey championship in Edmonton.

It’s a beacon providing both contact-tracing capability should the Canadian defenceman test positive for the COVID-19 virus, and a warning if he stands too close to someone else for too long.

“It’s a mandatory thing to make sure we’re all safe in these times,” Schneider said. “If that’s one of the things we have to do, we’re very privileged and lucky to even get the chance to come here and play.”

TraceSafe’s wearable technology is Hockey Canada’s extra layer of defence against the spread of the virus in the world junior tournament, in addition to the same cellphone app the NHL used in its Edmonton and Toronto playoff “bubbles” this year.

That app, which includes facial recognition technology, is a self-assessment tool that provides a code for a temperature check if a person is feeling feverish.

The Bluetooth beacon on Schneider’s credential features a small red light that flashes if he’s less than two metres from another person, or if he’s in someone else’s presence for more than 15 minutes.

Data is uploaded via an encrypted network to be used for contact tracing in the event of a positive test for the virus.

“What we wanted to do is be able to trace where people were relative to others and we wanted to be able to set a quarantine period where no one was allowed to leave,” said Hockey Canada vice-president of events Dean McIntosh.

“The app didn’t do that for us and neither did the daily testing, so there was a need to find something different and new.

“We were pleased it was cutting edge and taking the bubble a little further than what the NHL did knowing that we were in a situation where certainly the cases of COVID in the province were higher than they were in August. We felt we needed to be a little more detailed.”

The technology works in concert with other measures, including daily testing. Hockey Canada hired the same private Edmonton lab the NHL did to process tests.

Wearing masks is mandatory. They are removed when players and personnel are about to step on the ice, McIntosh said.

The trickiest part of managing the virus was when the 10 teams arrived in Edmonton on Dec. 13.

Everyone wore a wristband resembling a hospital bracelet while quarantined in their hotel rooms for five days.

A gateway, or a small hardware device in their rooms, and the wristbands created a geofence.

If a player left his room, the signal would break and indicate a breach of quarantine.

Those deemed free of the virus after quarantine discarded the wristbands and donned credentials with the beacons to enter the world junior “bubble”.

Nine German players continued wearing wristbands and isolating in their hotel rooms several more days because of positive tests during quarantine. One player will continue to do so until Jan. 4.

Players can take off their credential when they change out of street clothes into hockey gear, McIntosh said.

Who sees the data? An International Ice Hockey Federation official and a representative of the organizing committee can access it in real time.

A 16-member compliance committee made up of representatives from all 10 teams, officials and the host broadcaster regularly meets to discuss any violations of COVID-19 protocols, McIntosh said.

A positive test gets reported to Alberta Health Services for contact tracing to commence.

“We have not had a case since individuals came out of quarantine, so we haven’t had to utilize the TraceSafe technology to identify close contacts in a positive case in the bubble,” McIntosh said.

The credential beacon doesn’t create a geofence barrier. More traditional measures ensure no one leaves the hotel or arena to walk through downtown Edmonton.

“Our security in our hotels and the non-technological ways we keep them in with fencing around the hotels have been a way to manage that,” McIntosh said.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of trust, but there does come a point in the event where teams will be eliminated and maybe here for 24 hours before they leave, so we’re really trying to ensure the temptation of leaving the bubble isn’t there either.”

Employers such as construction companies now use TraceSafe wearables, chief executive officer Wayne Lloyd said.

Another sports application is Boston’s TD Garden, the home of the NBA’s Celtics and the NHL’s Bruins, which has 500 arena employees wearing the technology.

“We don’t know when health authorities are going to give the green light to start allowing fans back in,” Lloyd said.

“Whether wearables are a part of the fan journey, that’s a very open question as well. I don’t know what that looks like, so I wouldn’t want to speculate.

“Most of the conversations have been strictly around employers and how they can work together with us.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

junior hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alycia Weir (left) and Helena Oosthoek (right) of the Golden Family Center stand outside of the GFC building at their Bell Lets Talk stand last February. They are currently raising funds to help support their drop-in counselling program. (Claire Palmer photo)
Family center fundrasing for free counselling program

It’s important to have accesible care in the community

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Most Read