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

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Probe into TNRD spending taken over by federal police unit

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

An alleged suspect in two Cache Creek crimes was caught on surveillance camera in April 2021,and police are hoping someone can identify him. (Photo credit: RCMP)
Alleged suspect in Cache Creek crimes caught on video

Police are hoping someone can identify man who is a suspect in two Cache Creek incidents

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read