The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) employees have a new fashion accessory to wear to work – a contact-tracing device that utilizes 4G cellular data with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The wearable devices can clip onto an employee’s shirt, lanyard, or belt and will provide an audible and visual alert when employees are within six feet of each other. Additionally, if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, the device makes it easier for management to determine who that employee was in contact with and when.

“Mitigating the possible spread of COVID-19 in the facilities has presented BEP with a number of challenges and delays,” a redacted justification and approval notice from the Treasury said. “Contact tracing will help minimize risk to our workforce as we move through the next phases of the reopening plan and strategically reintroduce employees back into the facilities.”

The contract for the devices launched on Feb. 2 with vendor Triax Technologies. The company’s contract-tracing devices transmit employees’ proximity data to the cloud through cellular gateways, with no direct data or network access to BEP systems or networks.

“The need for the service is of such compelling urgency that current policies could impact future efforts as announcements of COVID-19 reports rise throughout the Bureau and surrounding states of the DC area where employees live,” the document says. “The impact of continuing with a manual process could further complicate reporting timely efforts as positive cases are received and slow down production. The Bureau’s desired end state is to replace the existing manual process with a turn-key solution/ tracking social distancing device at both facility locations.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.