Measuring close proximity interactions in summer camps during the COVID-19 pandemic
DIGIS, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Via Sommarive 18, 38123, Trento, Italy
2 DEI, University of Bologna, Viale del Risorgimento 2, 40136, Bologna, Italy
3 DISI, University of Trento, Via Sommarive 9, 38123, Trento, Italy
Accepted: 11 January 2022
Published online: 31 January 2022
Policy makers have implemented multiple non-pharmaceutical strategies to mitigate the COVID-19 worldwide crisis. Interventions had the aim of reducing close proximity interactions, which drive the spread of the disease. A deeper knowledge of human physical interactions has revealed necessary, especially in all settings involving children, whose education and gathering activities should be preserved. Despite their relevance, almost no data are available on close proximity contacts among children in schools or other educational settings during the pandemic.
Contact data are usually gathered via Bluetooth, which nonetheless offers a low temporal and spatial resolution. Recently, ultra-wideband (UWB) radios emerged as a more accurate alternative that nonetheless exhibits a significantly higher energy consumption, limiting in-field studies. In this paper, we leverage a novel approach, embodied by the Janus system that combines these radios by exploiting their complementary benefits. The very accurate proximity data gathered in-field by Janus, once augmented with several metadata, unlocks unprecedented levels of information, enabling the development of novel multi-level risk analyses.
By means of this technology, we have collected real contact data of children and educators in three summer camps during summer 2020 in the province of Trento, Italy. The wide variety of performed daily activities induced multiple individual behaviors, allowing a rich investigation of social environments from the contagion risk perspective. We consider risk based on duration and proximity of contacts and classify interactions according to different risk levels. We can then evaluate the summer camps’ organization, observe the effect of partition in small groups, or social bubbles, and identify the organized activities that mitigate the riskier behaviors.
Overall, we offer an insight into the educator-child and child-child social interactions during the pandemic, thus providing a valuable tool for schools, summer camps, and policy makers to (re)structure educational activities safely.
Key words: Close proximity interactions / Contagion risk levels / Social bubble strategy / Wearable devices
© The Author(s) 2022
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.