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March Madness participants will wear contact tracing devices

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Marion County Public Health Department said contact tracing and contact tracing devices will be part of the March Madness tournament.

The company KINEXON makes the devices. A spokesperson for the company said the devices are about the size of a domino or a little smaller than an Apple AirPods case. The device weighs less than one ounce.

In January, the NCAA said players, coaches, team staff members, and officials will all wear the contact tracing devices, throughout the whole tournament which includes practices and games.

“I love this new technology that they’re going to have for all of the teams and the staff members,” said MCPHD Director Dr. Virginia Caine.

Video analysis, along with the devices, will give data that allows what the NCAA calls total time measurement of people who are within 6 feet of someone newly infected with COVID-19.

The device, called a SafeTag, can be worn on the wrist like a watch, around the neck in a lanyard, or even tucked inside a pair of shorts.

“What that wearable is doing, is it’s collecting that information of how close you are to other users, then for how long. That data is then uploaded to our readout station then to the exposure management software. In the case that there is a positive test, medical officials, the local health department could actually go into that software and easily determine who’s at high-risk of being close to the virus,” said Matt Bontorin, a KINEXON spokesperson.

The NCAA said the data will be used to help with contact tracing and the need to quarantine participants.

KINEXON told News 8 that NCAA teams have used the tech for most of the year and they expect more than half of the NCAA teams to be familiar with it.

“What we’re trying to do is really reduce outbreaks, mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Bontorin.

Caine assures daily monitoring.

“That’s going to be a daily surveillance process that we look at very carefully that’s so robust from a contact tracing standpoint it’s just going to be phenomenal,” said Caine.

She said the contact tracing will be robust.

“I’ll be able to quickly and very robustly, be able to identify anyone who turns out to be positive in our community and we can do our investigative evaluation recommendations and testing very rapidly,” said Caine.

KINEXON told News 8 that data is heavily protected and only a few designated medical officials have access to that data. KINEXON does not have access to any of the data from their clients. They said this is not GPS and they are not tracking locations.