Contact Harald is a name everyone impacted by the pandemic should know. In contrast to other manual or app-based methods of contact tracing, Contact Harald is a wearable, Bluetooth-enabled card and contact-tracing platform underpinned by proximity-tracing technology, which isn’t GPS geolocation-driven tracking and doesn’t require wi-fi, phones, IT installation or even charging.
"We’re very lucky that we had a really good idea and had our ducks in a row," Nick O’Halloran, Co-Founder and Director of Contact Harald, tells The CEO Magazine.
"We had a ready-made product. We’d already brought in a health sector specialist to guide us as to how our existing technology could have meaningful and value-adding applications in the health sector, and it had already passed due diligence and quality and application, and was gaining proof of concept for the technology as a contact-tracing solution.
When coronavirus arrived, we quickly realised that a smarter, faster solution could be impactful in slowing the spread of COVID-19."
This innovative solution allows workplaces to avoid complete shutdowns by keeping abreast of health concerns so that if an employee declares symptoms, they can be directed to be tested straight away, or if they are a confirmed case of COVID-19, they can immediately isolate.
Only staff with whom they’ve come into close proximity are then notified so that they can also get tested. In addition, while the efficacy of these types of apps requires at least 20 per cent of the population to be using it for it to have an impact, because Contact Harald has targeted workplaces, each has 100 per cent uptake, meaning everyone is protected.
If we can help to keep businesses alive and families happy, then that’s a pretty great reason.
It’s fair to say that when COVID-19 first hit, few were prepared for just how much our lives were going to change. Nick, however, was the exception. As an entrepreneur who had started developing a contact-tracing solution in 2019, he was both ahead of the curve and at the right place at the right time.
While Nick’s background was in business property, and also included eight years as a professional racing car driver, his transition to tech was the result of a passion for the industry, coupled with an insatiable desire to change the world for the better.
Long before coronavirus was part of our vocabulary, he started exploring options and researching how contact tracing in its current form could be streamlined. He then enlisted his business partner and former Apple developer, Matt Denton, and Contact Harald was born.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and this encouraged Nick and Matt that they were creating something groundbreaking. "I’m motivated by wanting to make the world a better place," Nick smiles.
"We kept getting favourable responses from academics, researchers and people in health, so we knew we were on to a good thing." Unsurprisingly, within a few short months, the company was expanding at an unprecedented rate.
Nick assembled an agile team of tech developers and business development professionals, and now has teams in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Singapore to ensure Contact Harald’s clients in industries as diverse as education, manufacturing, supply chains, health and aged care, construction, infrastructure, and the film and TV sectors are supported in a timely and personalised manner. "I follow the ethos of ‘work smarter, not harder’," Nick says.
"This is the genesis for the products that we’ve developed. We’ve also transformed the way contact tracing can be done, because Contact Harald is a digital, single source of truth for organisations to meet their workplace safety and duty of care obligation in a fast, effective, privacypreserving manner."
No personal information is stored in the card and all proximity information is deleted after 20 days. "It’s been a very busy eight months," Nick laughs.
"When we started, nobody knew what Contact Harald was. We had to fast-track our branding, market positioning and credibility. But the technology spoke for itself, irrespective of us being an unknown brand. We’ve built a really strong team of people, and we’re all motivated by the knowledge that what we’re doing is making a difference."
Now, as the world learns to live with COVID-19, Nick is optimistic that while it’s early days of a vaccine rollout with yet-to-be-determined efficacy, with Contact Harald’s help, things can get back to normal quicker – especially in the workplace. "We’re looking for a forecast of trends, as well as listening to the consumers about what they want and need," he says.
"We’re excited to show businesses how Contact Harald can positively change things for them. If we can help to keep businesses alive and families happy, then that’s a pretty great reason. The fact that we’re doing something that is actually going to protect and help people is amazing."