Employees are the biggest asset to any organization. With the starting of the unlock phases, as workplaces gradually reopen, and people return to physical environments, the primary concern is, how firms can keep their employees and their families safe from this highly transmissible virus. As more organization now realize that maintaining Covid-19 safety protocols and deploying advanced technology solutions are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, the concept of proximity or contact tracing is increasingly seen as an effective way to ensure safe and secure work environments.
Juniper Networks is one of the several technology firms that are working to extend the scope of proximity or contact tracing. The company is helping enterprises to successfully plan a seamless back-to-work strategy with its Mist Wireless solution. Speaking to CXOToday, Rajesh Kumar, Head of Systems Engineering, Enterprise & Government, Juniper, Networks India, explains how Juniper Networks’ proximity or contact tracing solutions are helping businesses restore the business normalcy, by ensuring safety of their stakeholders.
Last year, the Sunnyvale, California-based networking major acquired AI-powered networking startup Mist Systems for $405 million with the aim to inject artificial intelligence into enterprise networks while at the same time simplifying management across wired and wireless environments. Since then, it has seen a rise in the adoption of its Mist wireless solution in the enterprise and government verticals. Proximity or contact tracing has been an area of its application which is witnessing a speedy growth, especially in the pandemic-induced environment.
Explaining the technology architecture, Kumar said, “Juniper Networks’ AI-Driven Enterprise is built on the vision of Mist AI to leverage ML technology, data science and automated operations to deliver a network that is easy to manage and provides unparalleled user experiences.”
Juniper’s Mist AI works in conjunction with the company’s cloud architecture to collect and analyze metadata in near real-time from all wireless clients. All operations are managed via modern cloud architecture for maximum scalability, agility, and performance.
According to Kumar, deploying AI-driven solutions that enable proximity tracing is the key to ensuring employee safety and business continuity. With a comprehensive proximity tracing system in place, enterprises can swiftly identify a Covid-19 positive employee and notify other employees, guests or customers that may have been in close contact with that individual. This enables the management team to identify the locations within the campus to get sanitized, while informing employees to get quarantined, thus minimizing the risk of an outbreak.
“In particular, the solution leverages AI-driven analytics, self-driving Wi-Fi, and patented virtual Bluetooth-enabled technology to enable deployment of mission-critical use cases including mapping user journey to identifying the proximity of users who have reported testing positive for Covid-19 to other team members and hot zone alerting, including dispersing or diverting traffic away from congested areas with real-time, location-based alerting,” he explains.
In August this year, the company released four new wireless access points to extend the benefits of the Mist AI-driven Wi-Fi 6 to cost-conscious small businesses.
Kumar says, “Organizations and businesses of all sizes across all verticals from education, healthcare, travel, manufacturing, retail, government and more can reap the benefits of Juniper’s AI-Driven Enterprise portfolio.”
In addition to simplified wireless operations, Juniper’s solutions can also deliver value-added location services such as push advertising, way finding, visitor analytics, and asset tracking. All the add-on solutions can be rolled out via cloud subscriptions, without the need for additional hardware.
Despite all the benefits, proximity or contact tracing tools and software have often been in the spotlight for privacy and security risks. But Kumar believes that data security and privacy being the highest priority obligation to its Customers and Partners, the company has put in place a strong set of data security and access control mechanisms and follow EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requirements.
“We do not consume any health information, nor identify who is corona impacted or exposed,” he says.
On the future of proximity tracing in India, Kumar believes, as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic, companies are in a bind with the need to ramp up operations, workforce policies, and business strategies while ensuring a safe return to work for employees.
“Proximity tracing at the ground level of a workplace can be used to monitor and maintain a safe and healthy workplace especially in industries such as education where we are seeing more institutions opening up and welcoming back students on campus,” he concludes.