App developers are all hands on deck in developing new applications that can help in flattening the Coronavirus curve. Even Google and Apple have joined forces to work on this.
So far, 2020 hasn’t been the year for anyone. The struggle of staying sane during the lockdown period is getting harder and harder as the days go by. Governments around the world are working round the clock to fix this.
In reality, some methods implemented by the government work, while some really don’t. Nevertheless, everyone still has to sincerely cooperate for the improvement of the situation.
This cooperation is exactly what’s happening in the tech world.
Contact tracing and mass testings
The main manner by which the curve is happens in two steps. The first is contact tracing, and the second is mandatory testing.
The second one must be left to the hands of experts in the field of medicine and laboratory technology. There is no hiding that there is a shortage of test kits in many countries. Governments are regulating their use to lessen the yield of patients with false-negative results.
When these patients are allowed to leave with the idea that they are scot-free, people around them run the risk of contracting the disease.
The first step is easily more manageable. The use of modern software technology and existing hardware in smartphones make this more possible.
Contact tracing made easy
Singapore has led the way in using technology to do contact tracing. In their TraceTogether app, the software triggers the function of the phone’s BlueTooth device and automatically records any encounter with a Coronavirus positive person.
#TraceTogether to stay safe together! Download the community-driven contact-tracing app, which estimates proximity between users via Bluetooth signal. No personal data or geolocation data is tracked. #SGUnited pic.twitter.com/8suV9klUQ3
— GovTech (Singapore) (@GovTechSG) March 21, 2020
Several app developers in South Korea, India, Taiwan, and Israel have followed. Their implementations are all different, but their purpose is the same. Some of the apps manage to use hardware in the phones that are capable of longer ranges than BlueTooth capabilities.
These would include GPS capabilities, wi-fi signal bouncings, and cell-tower signal trackings.
Privacy of user data
The main concern that is sparked by the usage of these apps is the security of the data of its users. While the intention is noble, the security features of the apps must be airtight. Otherwise, data such as being positive with the virus can be used for blackmailing or even worse crimes.
At least for the Singapore based app, the makers made sure that the app doesn’t disclose any data to the public. What it simply does is to notify the user whether or not he has come close to Coronavirus patient.
Apple rolls out its own location data information base
Apple has just announced that it will make the data in Apple Maps available help in Coronavirus relief efforts. The datasets will be available for access via an online tool design by the company.
Its main feature is to provide governments the data as to how people are moving about. They do this by tracking the amount the app is used throughout the day. As more and more people use the app, the data sets become more robust.
This can then give the government an idea as to where and what people are generally doing the lockdown implemented.
Image courtesy of CDC/Unsplash