If someone reports sick after a gathering, a new AI-based system can trace contacts across four days and thousands of people in just four seconds. AI

This week, UNLV Lee Business School awarded Volan Technology the coveted Lee Prize Nevada Innovation Award for its advanced solution for enterprise-scale, precise and private contact tracing software. The technology could enable hospitality operators to make dramatic improvements in virus prevention—and save millions of dollars in manual tracing.

The software also enables organizations to report and respond to emergencies with extraordinary speed and accuracy.

Michael Bettua, founder and CEO of Volan Technologies, explained that The Volan Positioning System (VPS) uses “micro-location geofencing” technology and data analytics to identify both direct and indirect exposure risk across locations and over time, and calculate those most exposed using a patented scoring system that exceeds the CDC’s latest guidelines for determining “close contact” and assesses accumulated exposure, not just sustained contact.

Bettua said the technology was already in development before the pandemic as a location-based alarm for housekeepers. It was repurposed to address the challenges of helping meetings address contagion concerns. “Short term solutions, such as protective equipment and masks were being addressed, but occupancy and monitoring were being done manually and not effective,” he said.

Read Professor Leith Marin’s suggestions for Launching a Hospitality Startup Here.

VPS also enables hotels, schools and other large properties to prepare the most effective response and dramatically improve emergency response and the safety of staff. It can pinpoint the exact, real-time location of an incident, staff member(s) affected and incident type (fire, medical, assault, intruder) with 3-D mapping.

Martin called Volan’s product “a big deal” because it enables meeting professionals to be more strategic. “If someone gets sick, you don’t have to send everyone home. The data allows everyone to be more efficient.” It could also aid organizers in how they set up a space to remove pinch points.

The prize was laser focused on recognizing innovation that will accelerate the hospitality, meetings and conventions, and entertainment industries into a safer “new normal” in a post-COVID world.

Leith Martin, executive director of Troesh Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said that the judges, which included Wolfgang Puck, Steve Aoki, William P. Foley II (Vegas Golden Knights owner), Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr. (CEO, Allegiant Air) and Bill Hornbuckle (CEO and president, MGM Resorts), chose eight prize winners in all, from some 250 submissions. The winners will share a $1 million prize.