Places of worship play an important role in providing spiritual leadership for many individuals, and in bringing communities and generations together. However, their communal nature also makes them places that are particularly vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
So far, coronavirus super-spreader events have shared a few key characteristics: They've mostly involved indoor gatherings in which lots of people from different households were in close, extended contact, such as religious services, birthday parties, and choir practices. In that sense it is Places of Worship and not the individual people who pose an inherent risk as "super-spreaders" or "super-emitters"; it's a certain type of activity, one that's unlikely to be considered safe again.
While WHO does not define a 'super-spreader', experts say it's someone who is more likely to infect others than a typical infected person. A 2011 study found that a small percentage of a population — 20% — was responsible for 80% of disease transmission during an outbreak. Those are the super-spreaders. This is more widely known as the 20/80 rule.
However, the label doesn't necessarily indicate that a person is more contagious than others, or that they're shedding more viral particles. Rather, they have access to a greater number of people in spaces that facilitate infection.
At present, very few religious organisations are manually keeping paper records of their visiting congregation; some take names, address and contact numbers, dates and times of visits. We know of none who have any follow up system in place where Worshippers are proactively contacted to establish their wellbeing following a visit to the Place of Worship. We have not come across any who are able to monitor and react to any of their congregation who has signs or is suffering from Covid-19 symptoms.
Effectively, what is being allowed to take place is gatherings of people from unconnected households in indoor buildings, with no formal way of knowing who has visited, and subsequently no following-up using a pre-infection outbreak Track and Trace process. The vast majority of the visitors who attend these gatherings are from both the vulnerable and/or BAME Groups.
There have been a number of well documented local outbreaks of Covid-19 in recent weeks resulting in Local Lockdowns, and whilst it is not clear with pinpoint accuracy the exact origin of the outbreaks, some of the localities affected have larger numbers of vulnerable or BAME Groups.
The Temple Trace solution
In response to this need we have developed a privacy-conscious, booking track and trace management system for Worshippers. It allows Religious Organisations to effectively and efficiently manage their visitor numbers to a specific booking slot, via a simple and concise booking web-app. In addition, it follows visitors up with a Wellness SMS message asking them if they have any symptoms. All of this is able to be carried out with full user anonymity; the Worshippers only need a mobile phone number.
An individual Worshipper can book themselves in to a Place of Worship of their choice. In the case of a group of people (family, etc.) a designated lead Worshipper can make a group booking up to a maximum that the Place of Worship specifies.
Later, if any of the worshippers show signs of Covid-19 and reply symptom-positive to the Wellness SMS, the system auto notifies all of the congregation that they may have been in contact with that person at their Place of Worship. These visitors can then be advised in accordance with the current Government guidelines. The person who is symptom-positive is subsequently not allowed to make any further bookings for the period of time Public Health England / Government recommend for self isolation. In the case of a group booking, the lead Worshipper who made the booking is notified and subsequently expected to oversee on behalf of the group.
Our system dramatically reduces and simplifies the administration burden on the Places of Worship, and in doing so greatly increases the likelihood that they will implement a system at all.
As far as we know our system is unique; we are not aware of any other similar services available for Places of Worship visitor management and tracing.
Key benefits of Temple Trace
The key features of our platform are:-
1. Ease of Use: Extremely easy to use and intuitive system for the general public.
2. Anonymity: The User needs only to enter their phone number to use the system.
3. Booking: Simple and straightforward QR Code & SMS booking reference.
4. Gatekeeper Functionality: Assists the organisation in the management of visitors and their booked time slots.
5. Wellness Follow Up: Automated SMS Covid-19 Wellness follow-ups, restrictions on bookings and mass self-isolation notification.
6. Automation: Automated technologies and algorithms overcome the need for manual managing of visitors' attendance in Places of Worship.
7. Standardisation: The same system will be used across all places of worship, creating a standardised method of visitor management and contact track and trace for an individual attending Places of Worship.
8. Multi Faith: Multi Language, and customisable Worship slots (for example Faiths with worship times based on sunrise and sunset), allowing the potential for all Faiths to use the system.
9. Statistical Data: Allows you to gather statistics on outbreaks, numbers of cases as a percentage of visitors at a Place of Worship, clear mapping out of hotspots, visitor trends, falling or rising footflow, etc.
Which clinical areas below does Temple Trace impact on?
- Self Care/management
- Public Health
- Infection Control
We believe that Temple Trace can greatly mitigate the risk of spreading and/or contracting Covid-19 infection in the community.
Expected benefits to Local Government, NHS and Local Community
The expected benefits to the local councils, NHS and local community is primarily to assist with effective infection control, reducing the places that are inherently super-spreader events.
By managing the flow and contact of people in these types of locations, the rate of infection transmission will be drastically reduced due to managed contact of people, resulting in the Healthcare system not being overwhelmed with cases of Covid-19, causing a second wave and infection spikes that could ordinarily have been avoided.
Not only could this save lives, it could also reduce the burden of costs to the already stretched Councils and NHS finances.
Expected benefits to Economic Growth
At least one account manager is required per 25 Places of Worship. In the Pilot Area, there are approximately 250 places of worship. We anticipate in that area alone there will be at least eight jobs created. There are also a number of supporting businesses that will benefit from the successful take-up, such as data centres, printing and POS businesses and local businesses to support the staff needs. Included in our staff requirements are employees with multi-language skills such as Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, etc.
The Places of Worship desperately need to remain open in order to get visitors in and receive donations (worshippers overwhemingly support these charitable organisations financially), without which they face closure.
Other businesses that benefit from any Temple Trace building that is in operation are services such as building maintenance, utility companies and any organisations servicing the Births, Deaths and Wedding functions, etc. If Temples are closed or suffer low attendance, the knock-on effect is that money entering the community from these sites is dramatically reduced.
Expected benefits over existing products, technologies or services
Currently there are no known products or similar technologies available. The services that are being used are at best pen and paper recording, or more commonly nothing at all. Many Places of Worship are currently closed as they cannot easily adhere to the government restrictions on visitor numbers.
The main benefits of this system are that everyone has a mobile phone and this system provides a very simple way for users to book on a mobile responsive web-app (no download necessary), and uses well known methods of communication such as SMS & QR codes, to make bookings and follow-up's with attendees of Places of Worship. Our system is extremely accessible and designed to be almost language and age-agnostic, with a simple and clean pictorial-based design.
For the organisation it allows them to easily let members of the congregation book in specific time slots, helping their visitors to worship in safety whilst adhering to government COVID-19 management requirements.
It also uses a ‘hands-off’ approach, minimising human contact by utilising a book-in-advance system.
As mentioned above, key to our system is that it requires no downloading of any app from an app-store, meaning any device with a browser can be used. Both the Worshipper and the Place of Worship can use universally available devices that they already own; no additional hardware or software is required.
Plans for the future
Roll out UK-wide and possibly worldwide.
The data that we acquire is very valuable for local Public Health Departments and Councils, therefore a synergisitc sharing of that data could be very beneficial.
There are many other places and situations where attendance control for gatherings of people is required, and that our system could easily be adapted to. We already have a number of strong ideas of where we feel it could be of great benefit next, eg. Day Nurseries, Community Centres, Play Groups, Food Banks, etc.
If you have any questions or queries relating to this White Paper, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org