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The location tech helping Las Vegas enforce social distancing

As Las Vegas' slot machines and roulette wheels start spinning again, could location technology help the United States' busiest city maintain social distancing?

The lights are tentatively coming on again in Las Vegas after two months of lockdown.

In June, the world-famous Strip's casinos and hotels will whirr back to life after one of the worst periods in the city's history. Coronavirus has seen Las Vegas record the highest unemployment levels in the United States.

Las Vegas is built around social interactions, and every year welcomes 42 million tourists and hundreds of thousands of business travelers to conventions.

Since the lockdown, Las Vegas casinos have been losing millions of dollars every day, and its mayor Carolyn Goodman was initially reluctant to close the city saying in a CNN interview: “We've never closed down Las Vegas because that's our job — the entertainment capital of the world where everything's clean. We would have never gotten to the point we are now as a center for entertainment and conventions and sports and everything else… without being clean."

But new health and safety guidelines means it will be quite some time before the city goes back to normal, despite extensive measures that will see contactless payments at blackjack and deep cleaning of roulette tables. Could location technology help Las Vegas, and other cities, manage social distancing restrictions?

That's the idea behind iSIGN's “Safety Alert Messaging System", an interactive proximity marketing technology that can deliver messages to mobile devices that come into range in real-time.

Using location technology and beacons, it can see where people are at any given moment and send safety messages to them. It could be used by casinos, for example, to send social distancing reminders to people if they detect the area is getting too crowded, particularly useful in one of the party capitals of the world where it's easy to have a few drinks and forget the rules.

Social Distancing measures in Las Vegas

Keeping crowd distances in the "Glitter Gulch" will be one way iSIGN's alert messaging system can help Las Vegas bring back tourists.

“While Las Vegas is eager to slowly start returning to normal, social distancing will be a major community issue," the company says in a press release. “SAM is a technology-based mobile messaging system that enables the controlled broadcast of critical information to registered recipients. The system is Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and app-based and provides branded content, video, web link and text notifications."

Michele Bedwell, president of Omni Veil, which helped launch this technology in Las Vegas, said: “We want to be sure to do our part to help keep everyone safe. We will get through this, together. We want to keep everyone connected in real time. Our partnership with iSIGN is an excellent resource for the people."

As well as an entertainment hub, Las Vegas is the convention capital of the States, and another technology developed in England could help officials manage crowds at large events such as the CES technology convention and the SEMA car show.

IoT company Pathfindr has created the “Safe Distancing Assistant", a smart dongle that's worn around the neck like a lanyard and emits a short audible or vibrating alert when another wearer comes within two meters. The technology could also be used by businesses to ensure their staff stay the appropriate distance apart.

On its website, Pathfindr says: “Cutting-edge ultra-wideband technology ensures the device provides a full 360-degree field of detection and is far more reliable and accurate than technologies such as Bluetooth."

Social Distancing Beacon

The Safe Distant Assistant gives conference attendees a gentle audio nudge if they start to veer too close to one another. 

Ben Sturgess, co-founder and chief technology officer at Pathfindr, says: “The aim of the Safe Distancing Assistant is to enable work to safely continue – providing control to organizations and individuals working within them to prevent the spread of infection. We're excited by the demand that we're already seeing for this and have begun exploring the potential for it to be developed even further, including adding a capability for contact tracing into an enhanced version."

At the moment, the device does not track individuals' locations or log interactions between people.

Discover how location technology from HERE could help your business overcome the challenges of post-COVID-19 social distancing measures.

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