What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person ("contacts") and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts. By tracing the contacts of infected individuals, testing them for infection, isolating or treating the infected and tracing their contacts in turn, public health aims to reduce infections in the population.1 It must be implemented in any pandemic plan before considering relaxing social distancing mandates.
Contact Tracing, Protecting Passengers, and Transit Agencies
In an effort to keep their communities safe, transit agencies across North America have been using TripSpark’s demand-response software (NovusDR) to facilitate contact tracing. Agencies are responsible for the safety of its passengers and employees and need to continually follow procedures to ensure nobody is put in a vulnerable position.
Is there a plan in place for when a driver and/or vehicle is exposed by being in close contact with COVID-19 infected surfaces or passengers? Is there a way to quantify the magnitude of the exposure to ascertain the need for notification or isolation? Contact tracing will help your agency address these questions and is essential to protect your drivers and passengers.
Using Technology to Support Effective Contact Tracing
The thought of identifying and tracing back to your drivers, passengers and vehicles is daunting as it is.
“With the onset of COVID-19, transit agencies faced having to quickly modify service, change cleaning and safety protocols, and train employees and passengers on all these changes. Having to help with contact tracing by identifying what passengers and drivers someone exposed to COVID-19 had ridden with was yet another challenge,” said Tanya Brusse, Senior Product Manager for TripSpark Transit.
Even though this may seem like a huge undertaking, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here at TripSpark, we’ve been working to make sure our solutions and our expertise can help when you need it. Our demand-response technology can be leveraged to facilitate contact tracing. For example, the Passenger Information Report in our NovusDR software enables agencies to choose a specific passenger and date range, and populate a report that will list all passengers and drivers the passenger rode with during that particular date range, including a checkbox to symbolize if passengers were onboard together. Furthermore, the Driver Information Report allows you to select a certain driver and will list all passengers that rode with the driver during a chosen date range.
Using NovusDR, you can also obtain a passenger list for all the runs driven by a driver that may have been exposed to the infection. NovusDR can also be configured to save all of the driver, passenger and vehicle records, for a more elaborate, automated solution, giving way to a myriad of supplementary reporting functions, without any manual work to re-create the data. Though you may already have a contact tracing process in place, and need to streamline, TripSpark can help you improve your solution. We have been helping agencies with contact tracing tasks. Together, you can learn from each other, since you are all facing the challenges brought on by this pandemic.
Here Are 4 Ways to Get Started With Contact Tracing
Retaining Records: Using an old-fashioned system (paper and pen, or spreadsheet) to keep passenger and driver records for contact tracing may work for a little while, but is definitely not sustainable as mistakes can easily be made, and it requires significant commitment and effort to stay up to date and scale. Instead, you can set up NovusDR to maintain these records so that the data is easily available when you need to trace back.
Passenger & Driver: If a driver or passenger tests positive for COVID-19, you can use NovusDR to gather that run information. That data is necessary to determine who may have been exposed and might need to be notified or isolated. Passenger and driver assignments can be made in accordance with those who have tested positive, which is helpful with future planning, to ensure passengers who have tested positive are taken care of appropriately if they need to book subsequent trips.
Vehicle Tracing: You can use NovusDR to collect information on vehicles that were exposed to COVID-19 to determine which drivers and passengers could have been affected. This works the same as driver and passenger tracing, and you can then use the software to help schedule extra vehicle sanitization procedures or downtime.
Supplementary Queries & Reports: We’ve gained substantial knowledge and have been able to develop a source of new queries and reports for NovusDR by working together with transit agencies on this endeavor. This will help you care for your ridership and communities since these reports were created with the intention to obtain particular data you require to speed up your contact tracing procedures.
To learn more about contact tracing and best practices, feel free to reach out to us directly.