Coronavirus epidemic: control and surveillance techniques for schools

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Student residence and contact monitoring

Digital signpost through traffic

Monitoring and testing or contact and localization control, which can also be used to automatically monitor compliance with the distance rule

We already had about that Carolinum High School in Neustrelitz in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, the largest in the state with 1,100 students, reports (“New normality” as business and apparent security). Since mid-May, the pupils have been able to “voluntarily” take a Covid-19 test smear themselves twice a week, and the test result comes the next day. Testing is paid for by the Rostock biotech company Centogene, which wants to position itself for comprehensive tests in schools and other facilities, as does Reiner Hoffmann, head of the German Federation of Trade Unions demands. That would be a billion dollar business. The school, on the other hand, sees itself as a pioneer of “new personal responsibility”, how to realize a normal school day again and how to use teachers at risk age.

90 percent of the students take part, this happens out of indirect constraint through privileging after a negative test result. Then the pupils receive a kind of safety certificate in the form of a green dot on their name tag. With this you can enter a “Fast Lane” bland high school without a mouthguard and disinfect your hands. Above all you can then move around the building without a mouthguard. The distance requirement still has to be observed. For this, the pupils deposit their data with the company. A test twice a week does not guarantee that the students will not get sick between the tests and spread the virus, especially since the smears are made by the students themselves, which can lead to false negative results despite all the instructions, for example via a video. The test does not offer 100% security anyway.

With the company-financed model, the school is becoming an experimental field for strategies on how to control access to and behavior in rooms, as would be done with immunity cards that Health Minister Jens Spahn could not (yet) enforce. Centogene develops one with other companies app-based immunity card. In addition, it is a disciplinary process, as Michel Foucault would have called it, that basically forces all students to submit to the allegedly voluntary measure in order not to be identified as an outsider or a threat. In this case, they become recognizable because they do not have a dot.

With the battle cry “test, test, test” after the adoption of the “Second law to protect the population in an epidemic situation of national scope” extended testing. The health insurance companies have to cover the costs. At least random tests are now being carried out in schools and daycare centers in many federal states.

One goes one step further in the USA in Corona times. In order to ensure the safety of the students and teachers, in addition to temperature measurement, masks and distance rules on a surveillance system that makes schools a panopticon. The district is advancing New Albany with its 5 schools, which will open their doors to 4,800 students in August. The students then become subjects of another experiment. All should wear a radio transmitter, with which their location can be located within a few meters.

The data is stored centrally so that you can see where each individual is, who they were with and where they went. This tracing system should then, like the various tracing apps, enable Covid-19 to be fought better, because all contacts with an infected person can be identified in this way. In addition, it can be used to check whether the distance rule, i.e. social distance, is observed. If not, teachers are warned to intervene or discipline.

The American Federation of Teachers has in their suggestionHow schools can be reopened safely, warned that care must be taken to ensure that companies “do not use this crisis to expand their data mining and acquire the data to expand prefabricated curricula”. The association also proposed increased monitoring, testing, contact tracking and isolation in the event of an infection, but apparently did not think of technical monitoring, for example by infrared cameras that can detect fever, or by tracing apps (Covid-19 and the new monitoring technologies).

So New Albany is about contact tracking by means other than smartphones that young students often don’t yet have. However, the basis also remains the distance measurement by Bluetooth as with the apps. Headmaster Michael Sawyers says succinctly: “We are very interested in automatically tracking students.” While after the school shootings they used measures and techniques to detect intruders and ward off what went as far as arming the teachers, the perpetrator is now in the school, which is why the students should be monitored permanently and preventively.

The Bluetooth transmitters used had previously been developed by the company Volan Technology as supposedly AI-supported security technology for micro-geo-fencing and for the mass localization of individuals (Precise Positioning System) in order to identify pupils upon entry and provide an exact overview in the event of a crisis to have who is where. The technology is also offered for companies and hotels. Now they have been modified to enable the tracing function, including the tracing of contacts. The technology is sold as Protection of privacybecause it works independently of smartphones and GPS.

There was some excitement about the media reports, the school administration explainedthe situation was misrepresented. Only one pilot test had been approved to check the capacity and use of the technology with a view to reopening schools. It wouldn’t be more.
(Florian Rötzer)

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