Dhirendra Shukla

Dhirendra Shukla

Fredericton-based Gray Wolf Analytics has responded to Covid-19 by launching SafeContact, an app that helps with tracking and tracing the movements of individuals through the crisis.

Gray Wolf started business only last year and its core focus is a cybersecurity product that helps agencies monitor blockchains to ensure cryptocurrencies aren’t being used for criminal purposes. The Covid-19 crisis prompted its six-member team to turn their attention to a solution to help society get back to normal.

SafeContact is a GPS-driven app that allows users to record and track their own movements. Users control their data, and can share it with healthcare professionals or others if they choose to. The goal is to help establish where people have been, who they’ve been in contact with, both now and as the crisis eases. Gray Wolf launched SafeContact on Monday and it is free for now.

“When this all began, we looked at what we could do to help out,” said Gray Wolf Co-Founder and CEO Dhirendra Shukla in an interview Monday. “How can we come together and create a unique solution that is more patient and user-centric than existing solutions?”

Shukla is best known in the startup community as the head of the Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program at University of New Brunswick, or UNB TME. Last year, he led a group of entrepreneurs who launched Gray Wolf, which entered the university’s Energia Ventures accelerator last autumn.

Shukla said Gray Wolf was gaining traction on its core business before the Covid-19 crisis erupted. It now has two large customers and its talks with a couple of others are on hold until the crisis passes. In the meantime, it is working on SafeContact.

The team has held discussions with the federal and provincial governments about the new product, and hopes there is fast acceptance. If healthcare agencies ask for new features – such as the ability for users to input their own health data – then the team is ready to develop them.

The SafeContact app already allows healthcare professionals to contact users (even if they don’t know the user’s identity) so they can, for example, notify users about problem areas they may have visited.

The over-riding goal is that as the crisis eases, users can show employers, healthcare workers or whoever they choose the data on Safe Contact to quickly help evaluate who is safe to return to the workplace, said Shukla.

The company received funding on joining Energia and has received non-dilutive funding as well, ensuring had it has “runway for the next little while.” As well as the six staff members, Shukla said several volunteers helped out with SafeContact.

“We have many people that are volunteers and the volunteers are kicking ass,” said Shukla. “They are working day and night because they feel a human connection to what we are doing. They stayed up, some of them, until three in the morning. It was amazing.”