EY’s Proximity Monitor — Keeping People Safer

In 2020, EY developed a rockin’ pandemic solution, and it’s helping people get back to events like Eurovision. Now that’s worth a warble!

Less is more, as they say. This is certainly true of EY’s simple yet effective Proximity Monitor. The award-winning technology solution measures the effectiveness of social distancing procedures and awareness communications, highlighting any worrying areas of congestion that could lead to non-compliance.

But we can’t say that applies to the next event the tech will perform at: the Eurovision Song Contest. More is definitely more there! If you’re in any doubt over this fact, watch Will Ferrell’s glorious comedy romp, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The film belts out the famed competition’s eccentricities with the same fiery passion as its fame-hungry Icelandic protagonists Lars and Sigrit.

So, the votes are in, and the Proximity Monitor boos and hisses complexity off the stage. When the solution was announced last year, I said simplicity was its greatest talent:

How were we able to avoid complexity? By partnering with the right technology firm. Oslo-based tech start-up Forkbeard Technologies was the best pick because, put simply, it was already ahead of the game. Established in 2019 as a sister company to Sonitor technologies AS, Forkbeard looks to “take the GPS revolution indoors” by building on Sonitor’s 20+ years of experience in developing ultrasound-based indoor positioning systems for healthcare and pandemic management.

Together, Forkbeard and EY developed a simple Bluetooth-powered solution available in a couple of different formats — as an app downloadable to most smartphones or as a wearable device (either a wristband or a battery-powered tag on a lanyard). And consistent with the well-known design principle KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), we were able to achieve all of this without compromising effectiveness in the slightest.

Proximity Monitor works by using Bluetooth to communicate with other devices every few seconds, sending details on proximity to an on-site control room. There, the level of risk is determined (low, medium or high), and that data is subsequently sent onto a central system every few seconds.

See, simples! (as our friend Alexander the Meerkat would say).

EY’s social distancing measurement solution is far more effective and less resource-intensive than most alternative solutions out there. The Proximity Monitor is capable of accurate and reliable distance measurements and is always on without draining your battery. And it is data compliant, offering a range of data privacy options that adhere to GDPR and other data privacy rules, keeping the user in control.

As EY’s initial press release indicated, we’re incredibly excited about the potential of the Proximity Monitor to help get people back into venues to safely watch and enjoy live events. I’m pretty certain this will score way more than at next week’s Eurovision!

Our solution has already proven capable of achieving this objective at several test events, including some European Tour golf championship events in 2020, where it measured the effectiveness of social distancing among players, staff, and fans.

I’m super proud to be involved in the development of solutions like this, helping the public return to a richer and fuller life. If everything goes as planned, the UK will leave behind social distancing measures at the end of summer, but it’ll sure be a while before the world looks anything like pre-Covid days. Even so, with mic-drop innovations like the Proximity Monitor, we can give our best darned rendition of normality!

Behavioural psychologist; AI-quisitive; EY UK&I Client Technology & Innovation Officer. Views my own & don't represent EY’s position. catrionacampbell.com