Rapid Outdoor Networks for COVID-19 Retail Test Sites

Ryan Hall Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 30 Mar 2020

Walmart, Walgreens, Costco, and Albertsons are all offering special shopping hours for senior shoppers and other at-risk groups who have been advised to avoid leaving home as much as possible.

An Already Dynamic Retail Industry, Disrupted Further

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the retail industry, and in general, the way society purchases products and day-to-day goods.  As the world practices social distancing to help lessen the transmission and spread of the virus, a substantial number of well-known brands have temporarily closed their brick and mortar stores, with consumer shopping swinging dramatically in favor of online and ecommerce options. As a result, ‘non-essential’ retailers – like electronics, apparel, and cosmetics – are faced with the difficult decision whether to remain open or limit their hours of store operation. This also means protecting their workforce from viral exposure.

Retailers Adjusting to the Needs of the Crisis

Meanwhile, ‘essential’ retailers – like gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores/pharmacies – are not only remaining open, in some cases they’re expanding their hours and taking on responsibilities outside of and in addition to the products and services they already offer consumers. As an example, many national and regional grocery stores and department chains are adding special hours of operation, to create dedicated shopping times for senior citizens, who are considered the most at-risk demographic of the COVID-19 virus.

Drug stores and pharmacies are following this trend too, but are also being tasked with expanding the clinical services typically offered to customers.  With the importance of testing for COVID-19 as a vital priority to prevent the spread, drugstores like Rite Aid are preparing to offer testing at their 6,400 pharmacists in the U.S.  On this note, CVS was one of first pharmacies to open drive-up testing services via outdoor, pop-up tents that neighbor their brick and mortar stores; Walgreens, Walmart, and Target executives are opening similar testing setups in select locations.

A drive-up outdoor COVID-19 testing center at a CVS in Massachusetts 

Rapid Outdoor Connectivity for Retail Environments

The importance of these pop-up tents to help test for COVID-19 cannot be overstated, but they also entail certain digital and IT needs in order to function effectively and smoothly.  Namely, medical staff and operators need network connectivity to sufficiently operate mission-critical devices and systems.  In the US, cellular connectivity kits from service providers are tremendously difficult to obtain.

For this reason, for retail brands and their sites that are stepping up to support these efforts – often times in conjunction with healthcare organizations – Extreme Networks is offering curated wired/wireless packages that retailers and their supporting organizations can deploy without delay and without relying on external providers. These solutions are secure and encrypted extensions to the existing network, to help maintain HIPAA and PCI compliance.

High-performance Wi-Fi is distributed within the pop-up, support even the most demanding clinical-grade services where medical device and access to EHRs must be supported. Furthermore, different kits are designed to meet different requirements, with options for cloud-managed and on-premise network deployments.

Urgent situations require rapid responses, and Extreme’s Emergency Connected Networks are built to meet the unique and critical situation at hand. To learn more about Extreme’s Rapid Outdoor Connectivity Kits read the solution brief; for more business continuity solutions, like Extreme’s Remote Branch Kit and Teleworker Kit, visit our landing page.          

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