As the U.S. looks to reopen, health officials say the focus on testing and contact tracing are imperative to lowering risk of a "second wave" of cases.
In fact, because Covid-19 spreads so easily, if only one person gets infected with the novel coronavirus and then spreads it to three others, "that first positive case can turn into more than 59,000 cases in 10 rounds of infections," according to a report by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Astho,
One company from Massachusetts now says it's playing a key role in helping businesses, governments and hospitals stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Everbridge (EVBG) - Get Report -- which bills itself as a critical event management service provider -- has created a software package called "Covid-19 Shield" that it says will help organizations of all sorts "automate contact tracing initiatives," easing what is typically highly labor intensive job.
To help spot employees who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, the Covid-19 Shield would draw data from a variety of sources, including access badge information, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hot spots, calendars, travel itineraries, and thermal cameras. The software package would also use a mobile application for wellness checks and self-reporting.
"Founded in the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11, Everbridge originally focused on how to improve critical communications to better protect people during a crisis," company CEO David Meredith told TheStreet in a email.
Everbridge's products are used by governments and companies to assess risks such as terrorism and cyber-attacks and determine which they need to worry about; locate assets, customers and others that could be harmed; provide automated "standard operating procedures" to manage and respond to problems; and analyze how past threats were handled to create a better response for the next ones that come along, according to the CEO.
In response to Covid-19, Everbridge launched a coronavirus data feed, said Meredith. Soon after, he said, the company developed its Covid-19 Shield software templates and more recently, its "Covid-19 Return to Work and Contact Tracing" features, which, said Meredith, will help mitigate the threat of coronavirus spread as people return to the office.
TheStreet spoke with Meredith by email over the weekend to discuss the company and the Covid-19 Shield. The interview has been edited for length, style and clarity.
TheStreet: Since 9/11, it seems critical event management has emerged as a service. How do you ... see its growth now?
Meredith: As the world grapples with the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic, critical event management has never been more important than it is right now.
Critical event management represents an essential category that has been growing rapidly over the past few years. In fact, the fourth quarter was a record-breaking quarter for new critical event management deals for Everbridge. The economic losses associated with critical events are estimated to be $4.5 trillion this year. We estimate the total addressable market to be $42 billion and growing.
Over the last several years, we significantly broadened our capabilities to meet our customers’ life safety, operational resilience, supply chain, and information technology-alerting needs....
TheStreet: Many people are wary of any technology they perceive as intruding on their privacy. Does this software have any privacy protections built in or would they be dependent on the users?
Meredith: We take several precautions to safeguard the privacy of our user data and we don’t resell data or use it for marketing … we are totally focused on safety and security. In addition, our software is built on market-leading standards. We adhere to strict privacy policies and have achieved critical security certifications ....
The system (also) provides a documented audit trail for compliance purposes. Before we capture information from an app, we tell the user exactly how we’re going to leverage the data. We use progressive disclosure and simple language. Mutual opt-in ensures that the employer (or government) knows why they’re asking for a piece of information, and each employee or resident knows what they’re sharing and why. We have multiple levels of role-based access control, so that sensitive data is accessed only by the appropriate people, and only when needed. In the public safety space, sensitive information that residents volunteer, such as location information, is collected anonymously. Additionally, our countrywide solutions, such as how Norway uses our platform to mitigate Covid-19, do not access personally identifiable information, thereby maintaining the anonymity of the individual.
TheStreet: Who would own the data collected?
Meredith: In both government and corporate-use cases, our customers own their own data.
TheStreet: A likely place of infection could be outside of work – such as taking public transportation, going to the store or spending time with an infected family member -- would workers expect to be tracked in those places, too?
Meredith: The employee controls information that might be shared outside of work. For example, they have the opportunity to voluntarily perform opt-in based wellness checks using the app if they feel symptomatic or think they may have been exposed to the virus. However, corporations will not be able to track employees during non-work related activities beyond opt-in self-reporting through our app.
TheStreet: Talk about any governments you're currently working with for Everbridge's Covid-19 products....
Meredith: Everbridge works with thousands of cities, states, municipalities, government agencies and even entire countrywide deals on a global basis. Boston, for example, is the latest major U.S. city to select Everbridge amid the pandemic. The city’s goal is to ensure its diverse communities receive timely and accurate information about Covid-19.
Also, the Norwegian Directorate for Health, for example, sent a record 5.4 million Covid-19 messages via the Everbridge platform recently to every mobile phone in Norway. The Directorate also sent messages to all non-Norwegian phones roaming inside the country in English, French, German, Spanish, Polish and Russian, providing critical instructions for foreign nationals. Everbridge Public Warning automatically detected the nationality of a person’s mobile device, without the need for any personally identifiable information, and then sent messages in the appropriate language to improve the effectiveness of communication to visitors and international travelers. Norway has pioneered additional cutting-edge use cases with our technology to help support Covid-19 social distancing in an automated manner while maintaining individual privacy.
The U.S. Army, as another example, deployed Everbridge to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus across over 400 military locations in 70 countries.
TheStreet: Is the Shield sold as a subscription?
Meredith: Yes. It is a subscription-as-a-service-based model, sold as a subscription. As a result, customers can have it turned on within 48 hours. Since it is based in the cloud, the offering is very scalable and resilient. ... We base pricing on the desired capabilities, and the number of people and assets our customers would like to protect.
TheStreet: If history and science are any guide, this pandemic will end at some point. Do you envision the software being reworked for other purposes, either another disease outbreak or another similar event?
Meredith: Yes, in addition to pandemics, our critical event management platform has supported our customers in managing a variety of critical events for almost 20 years, including natural disasters, extreme weather, terrorism, cyber-attacks, man-made attacks, hazmat emergencies, and IT outages. Additionally, we recently extended our critical event management platform with modules for supply chain management and Internet of Things. Our critical event management growth continues to accelerate and maintain high retention rates with industry leaders across a variety of verticals such as aircraft manufacturing, financial services, entertainment and media, high tech, health care, hospitality, retail, pharmaceuticals, the federal government, and other sectors.