Safe Reopening - Smart Social Distancing

Brought to you by Bill Moten
LEDG Smart Buildings Practice Leader

Social distancing awareness provides knowledge of how well people are adhering to the “six-foot rule.” Why is 6 feet the optimal distance for people to be from each other? The CDC claims that keeping six feet from everyone will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 via droplets from a sneeze or conversation. Local government regulations are limiting occupancy to 25% -50% to allow enough space to comply with the six-foot rule. See my previous blog on Occupancy Tracking for more information on occupancy limits. Keeping six feet away from other people is hard to do, even with the occupancy limits in place.

Why is it important to be aware of social distancing in the workspace, campus, or building? In case someone was to test positive for COVID-19, it is essential to know who they came in contact with and what areas they visited. Knowing if someone is continuously violating the six-foot rule will help to identify that person as needing extra training and supervision. Social distancing is not natural for most people. Therefore constant reminders are necessary throughout the workspace.


There are many low-tech methods to help people with social distancing, such as floor decals identifying the six-foot area around desks, markers on where to stand, and directional signs in hallways and stairways. Sneeze shields are standard when space does not allow for six feet. These reminders are necessary at this time to help everyone adapt to our new reality. However, old habits are hard to break, and not everyone conforms to these new standards.


High-tech smart solutions for social distancing awareness are available that recognizes when people are doing it right as well as when they are doing it wrong. Many occupancy tracking solutions can provide social distancing measurements. The trackers can reveal if people are less than six feet apart and display the information live on local digital signage. Passive, active, and video solutions are available that can provide this level of intelligence, either anonymously or by name. Companies that track personally identifiable information (PII) as part of their social distancing awareness policy will be able to perform contact tracing in case someone tests positive for COVID-19. PII knowledge will also provide awareness of repeat offenders so they can get extra training, be reprimanded, or terminated if needed. There are a few vendors out there doing some interesting work in this area including Verge Sense and Density.

Appling data intelligence and analytics to social distancing awareness is the final stage. For example, in case someone did test positive for COVID-19, the ability to access data that shows the areas where the infected person visited as off-limits until disinfection takes place. This data can also identify and inform people that they came into proximity with the infected person and need to quarantine for two weeks. The capability to document occupancy and social distancing history will facilitate record keeping for reporting, auditing, and proof of compliance.

Thanks to the combination of low-tech and high-tech smart social distancing awareness solutions, building owners, facilities managers, businesses, and universities can ensure compliance with local regulations and institutional policies. The ability to track and share social distancing awareness with employees, visitors, students, and customers provides a sense of trust and that their health and safety is essential.

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