Create a Trusted Experience
- By Mark Robinton
- April 01, 2021
Founded in 1946, Bay State College in Boston, provides students
with relevant hands-on skills and a strong educational foundation.
The college is known for its small classes, personalized
attention and career-focused curriculum. Bay State’s education
helps students achieve their full potential as ethically and
socially aware citizens.
Resume On-campus Classes
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership at the
private college began exploring how they could safely resume on-campus
classes in the fall of 2020 and maintain operations should
isolated parts of the community contract COVID-19. The Information
Technology team at Bay State College came up with a unique and
novel solution to the problem that focused on contact tracing as a key
pillar of a layered safety solution.
The college wanted to align its re-opening plan with government
health department guidance stating contact tracing as one of the
most important efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But
administrators knew that manual efforts to identify who on campus
has been in contact with whom would be time-consuming and likely
insufficient to catch and stop transmission. It was equally important
for a contact tracing solution to strike a balance between individual
health safety and personal privacy.
HID Global’s BEEKs™ Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) beacons are at
the core of a robust contact tracing solution at Bay State College. They
help ensure that only trusted students, faculty, staff-members and visitors
can enter the campus, and that the campus itself can be trusted.
The college found the HID beacons in the form of badges to have
the benefit of being an easy extension of existing ID cards. As an
alternative to badges, users can carry HID fobs with these same beacon
capabilities. The HID fobs or badges can be issued to anyone
entering the premises, and administrators can define all distancing
policies and alert parameters for mitigating an infection outbreak per
public health guidelines.
Here is how it Works
- Installation. The college installed a new wireless network that
includes access points with dedicated Bluetooth radios and antennas
throughout its campuses.
- Detection. The Wi-Fi network is used to detect HID BEEKs BLE
- Badging. Each student, staff, faculty member and visitor on campus
must carry a beacon inside a badge holder on a lanyard at all times.
Since they are carried around campus, the beacons generate roughly
300,000 lines of location data per day. This information is captured and
stored in a database for real-time and historical analysis. By querying
this database, the college can triangulate the location information from
multiple access points to determine the relative location of everyone on
campus—much like how GPS is used with cars and phones.
In the unfortunate event that a person becomes infected, university
administrators can quickly learn where the person travelled on
campus, identify those who were in contact with the person for at
least 10 minutes, and notify those people, so they can be isolated and
Balancing individual health safety and personal privacy, all data collected
using the beacon is destroyed after the 14-days, in accordance
with the typical viral infection period. During those 14 days, the data can
only be accessed by senior IT department staff, and used only for contact
tracing purposes. Also, the beacons only transmit a device Media Access
Control (MAC) address that does not contain any personal information,
making it useless to anyone outside the IT department.
The college also uses the HID beacon data to monitor a real-time
count of the number of people on campus at any point in time. This
ensures that they are following Massachusetts state and local occupancy
Resume Classes Safely
“HID BEEKs beacons are integral to a contact-tracing solution that
has enabled us to safely resume in-person classes,” said Jeffrey E.
Myers, chief information officer at Bay State College. “This solution
will also help us keep our campus operational should isolated parts of
our community find themselves infected.”
HID Global has played an integral role in the college’s mission to
deploy a solution that protects students, faculty, staff-members and
visitors. Looking beyond contract tracing, the fobs and badges can be
used for creating zones with geo-fences around high-traffic areas to
minimize large congregations of people in the future.
This article originally appeared in the March / April 2021 issue of Campus Security Today.
Mark Robinton is the technology innovation manager for HID Global.