TECH TALK

Countries employ technology to fight coronavirus

This data will help the government take timely steps and initiate an isolation procedure if necessary

In Summary
  • The data from this application is shared only with the government and it does not allow your name and number to be publicly disclosed
  • Whenever the person visits a crowded place, it keeps sending messages from nearby mobile phones through Bluetooth
A member of the medical team checks the temperature of a woman, following the coronavirus outbreak, at the entrance checkpoint of Erbil, Iraq March 2, 2020.
A member of the medical team checks the temperature of a woman, following the coronavirus outbreak, at the entrance checkpoint of Erbil, Iraq March 2, 2020.
Image: REUTERS

As Kenya is doing mass testing in order to contain the virus, different countries and companies are employing technology to help contain the virus.

They have come up with contact tracing apps for the virus. Trace Together App is one of the contracts tracing technology that is built on the Blue Trace protocol, designed by the Government Digital Services Team at Government Technology Agency of Singapore.

It uses Bluetooth to track nearby phones without location tracking, keeps local logs of the contacts and only uploads them to the Ministry of Health when the user consents after the diagnosis so that the contacts can be alerted.

It estimates the distance between the Trace Together smartphones as well as the duration of such interactions. It also identifies participating app users who are within two metres of each other for more than thirty minutes.

The data is then captured, encrypted and stored locally on the user’s phone for twenty-one days which spans the incubation period of the virus.

Aarogya Setu App is another contact tracing app that is designed to keep a user informed in case the person has come across someone who has tested positive.

The tracking is done using Bluetooth and location generated social graph which can show your interaction with anyone else who has tested positive.

It has a tool for self-testing where the user is asked a set of questions. In case some of the answers suggest coronavirus symptoms, the information is sent to the government server. This data will help the government take timely steps and initiate an isolation procedure if necessary.

It will send you an alert if someone you came into close proximity with, unknowingly tests positive.

The alerts are accompanied by instructions on how to self-isolate and what to do in case you develop symptoms.

The data from this application is shared only with the government and it does not allow your name and number to be publicly disclosed.

It is available in eleven languages and its design is in a manner that can take a huge workload.

Apart from the app telling you about the person who you have been in contact with may be infected or not, it also tells you of the hotspots so that you can avoid or change your route.

Whenever the person visits a crowded place, it keeps sending messages from nearby mobile phones through Bluetooth.

If the user stands next to a person who is normal it shows a green zone and if that person becomes positive of the virus ten days later, the app will alert you immediately.

There were security concerns of this application but the government of India that came up with the application said that personal data that is collected is encrypted and stays secure in the user’s mobile.