An app that alerts users when they are not adhering to social distancing is being trialed by Network Rail.

Mind the Gap, which has been developed by Hack Partners, is designed to help organisations bring staff back to the office while being able to maintain safe distances.

It uses a mobile device's audio and Bluetooth functions to detect if users are breaking social distancing. It then produces an audible notification to alert individuals. The developer's chief executive, River Tamoor Baig, said this feature would help to avoid any awkward conversations.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "It's very easy to relax back into old patterns with colleagues and forget to distance, so this is a reminder.

"Also, the sound notification can help users avoid awkward conversations with colleagues who may not be social distancing - a lot of us would find it difficult to tell our boss to move away!"

Downloading and using the app is currently optional for Network Rail staff, but Hack Partners says it is being used widely across the company and other organisations will start using it in the near future.

"I am immensely proud of our entire workforce for the part they have played to keep the country running throughout the pandemic," Martin Frobisher, Network Rail's safety, technical and engineering director told the BBC.
"As we start to plan for a return to office working, we've been looking at absolutely everything to make sure we can continue to keep our people safe."
Hack Partners says the app measures the distancing with a 6-8cm margin of error, making it much more accurate than many contact tracing apps which have found issue in estimating correct distances. The London-based start-up is now in talks with the developers of contact-tracing apps who are struggling to get accurate results.