Following the criticism that trailed the Ontario government’s decision to invest $2.5 million in wearable contact tracing technology tracing technology that will beep or buzz to notify users if they are too close to another person, Premier Doug Ford has come out to defend the initiative, noting that the deal should yield a “good return on investment.”
It would be recalled that the Progressive Conservative government issued a news release saying that it will be providing money from the Ontario Together Fund to a technology company in order to create wearable tracing technology for people who work or spend time in facilities where the COVID Alert app can’t be accessed.
It was gathered that the bracelet, called TraceSCAN, would be used in places such as airlines, schools, construction sites and long-term care homes.
According to the province, the technology will be able to track COVID-19 exposure without using GPS.
The statement said “If anyone in the working premises reports COVID-19 positive, HR or health and safety officials can log in to the online reporting dashboard and see who they have been in contact with and their risk level, then send an exposure notification”.
It was also disclosed that the device will also either beep or vibrate at users who are less than six feet apart.
In view of the development, a number of people took to social media to question whether investing in wearable technology was the best use for the government’s money. Some of the users mentioned that most people already know they should be staying six feet away from one another, and have downloaded the COVID Alert App to aide in contact tracing and notification of potential exposure.
According to individuals who identified themselves as educators on Twitter, it would be impossible to use the technology in schools as kids are either constantly walking past other students in the hallway or some classrooms may not be able to keep desks exactly six-feet away from one another.
Reacting to the criticisms in defence of his government’s decision to invest money into the technology, Ford said “We look deep into anything that we invest in attracting jobs and I think so far, over the last two years two and a half years, anything that was invested has created a tremendous amount of jobs”.
“We always look at risk on any investment that we do and the return on investment, and they came back and said ‘here’s a good return on investment.’ You just don’t look you know where you are in a couple of weeks, you have to look at the long-term investment and we felt like it was a good investment, so we moved forward on it.”
Similarly to the COVID Alert App, the government will not be mandating that people use the technology.