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This week the Business Herald is sharing the stories of Kiwi businesses that have been forced to adapt in a post-covid 19 world. Like all New Zealanders, we are proud to shine a light on all the incredible work being done to help our country recover.

Contact tracing has become a hot topic during the pandemic as tracking people during the virus spread becomes an issue.

But a Kiwi-designed application, designed for the commercial property sector and now being used by major building site contractors and staff, already enables people to log their arrival remotely and automatically.

In 2016, Simon Yock founded Forsite, a contactless automatic proof-of-presence tracing application.

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A year later, the smartphone-based app aiming to cut injuries and deaths on construction sites got Callaghan Innovation funding. Yock said the research and development grant was for an initial three-year term. He and the Forsite team were "beyond thrilled" to get the grant.

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Yock said Forsite was being used throughout New Zealand, Britain and Australia and costs around $100/month for a single business to lease the software, Yock said.

"But this is not just for construction sites but every single place of work. We started out in commercial properties with cleaners, building inspectors, security guards, air con and smoke alarm testers, hire plant staff, electricians, plumbers. There's such a hidden workforce doing all these things and no one ever sees them or knows they're there and the company they work for and the landlord and tenant don't know if they've safely come to site and left site. That's what we started out with and to be honest, the construction element has occurred because of Covid-19," Yock said.

The Forsite Story. Video / Forsite / Youtube

Clients include NZX-listed Precinct Properties, Savills in Britain, CBRE in New Zealand, Colliers International, Britain's CEG, Foodstuffs, PMG Group and Mason Partners.

Workers who just returned to the $1 billion Commercial Bay site are using Forsite, he said.

The application must be downloaded, "then someone arriving at a monitored location is automatically identified as having arrived."

Contactless tracer Forsite is used at Commercial Bay (centre). Photo / Supplied
Contactless tracer Forsite is used at Commercial Bay (centre). Photo / Supplied

Safety notifications, checks or inductions, safe work method statements, permits for work, site safety plans and job safety analysis can all be included.

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Yock assembled investors and technologists and Forsite now has people and offices in New Zealand, Britain, and customers here in Australia and Britain.

"There are 10,000 users on the system, and Forsite has over 1m sq m of construction projects under management in New Zealand, and more than 2.5m sq m under management worldwide. This is projected to increase 40-fold by the end of 2020, to over 100m sq m," Yock said.

Yock, a property investor with commercial real estate, says that requiring an automatic technology-enabled log in and out of sites gave instant and accurate records of visits, making it easy to follow the train of virus transmission if necessary.

Forsite users install the app that talks to a sensor installed at entry and exit points on client sites.

Biggest challenge?
"Where do I start or stop? I have a team at Oxford in Britain and last year I saw them five times. This year, I don't expect to see them once. So learning how to manage entirely remotely is one challenge.

Biggest learning?
Yock says five things were required for an automated tracing system to work: "It must ask the person coming onto site for as close to zero as possible: data, time, battery, information that puts them at risk or discomfort."

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One year from now our business will ...
... be in more countries, on more construction sites, more workers will logging in using Forsite. Contact tracing will still be topical in a year's time because Covid-19 will still exist in a year and we'll still be doing these sorts of things to manage the fight against it."

Got a good news story? Let us know. Email GoNZ@nzherald.co.nz