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

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Head-on collision Jan. 14 claims one life west of Fort St. James

Jenkins said alcohol, as well as road surface conditions, have been ruled out as factors

Nechako River, Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Officials keeping close tabs on Nechako River after ice jam causes area flooding

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, though, said water levels have gone down, for now

Vanderhoof home sees water from the Nechako move up into the yard, and within hours, water was seen up to the deck. Ken Young, Vanderhoof councillor posted this photo on social media.
Mayor concerned about ice jams in the Nechako river

“We have never lived with a frozen river at this magnitude during our time in council,” mayor said.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read