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How is Contact Tracing Apps Helping to Fight Against Corona?

Mobile Application Development, Mobile Technology July 8, 2020
MHow is Contact Tracing Apps Helping to Fight Against Corona?
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Covid-19, one common topic of talk all across the globe. The number of cases is on the rise with no definite medicine to cure it. But, technology has proved to be a great helping hand to find the infected people, know their medical history, travel history, and keep things under control.

The lockdown world was still something under control but the post lockdown world will be ruthless. Google and Apple conjointly created contact tracing API to fetch data about people and use them in a timely manner to stop the spread of the virus. These contact tracing apps have been a great aid for the healthcare sector.

Contact tracing apps contribute massively to a country’s overall strategy for combating coronavirus. If you are wondering what is this technology that has been such a useful helping hand.

What is Contact Tracing Apps?

Contact Tracing App

To control the spread of coronavirus, one of the most important things is to detect the person with infection, report them, and quarantine them before they come in contact with other people. Smartphones and mobile apps can make this process easy if privacy concerns are set aside. Bluetooth beacons can be of help for stopping the spread of Corona. Bluetooth can reach other Bluetooth in the areas and stays in constant touch with them.

This is how your mobile device will know about any smart home devices nearby. The Bluetooth chip makes contact with each other without the users not knowing about it. If they are not recognized, they might delete each other and erase them from the memories.

With the contact tracing app, Bluetooth will keep a track of the entire Bluetooth signal passing by. They will know about the spreading infection with this technology. If a user of contact tracing app comes in contact with an infected people. They will receive a notification alert. This gives them an opportunity to get themselves checked and admit to Covid-19 centers to get cured.

Most of the countries have their own contact tracing apps to detect and control the spread of Covid-19 cases.

  • Australia has launched CovidSafe.
  • India has developed Arogya Setu.
  • Singapore has developed Trace Together.
  • Utah has developed HealthyTogether.
  • Israel has developed HaMagen.
  • Bahrain has developed BeAware Bahrain.
  • Colombia has developed Colombia.

All the huge nations are getting equipped and the same is the case with the tech giants Google and Apple. Apple and Google are developing together a contact tracing app and notification app on behalf of public health authorities. In North Dakota, they track patients through a website. But, after the announcement of contact tracing API, they came up with an app called care19 with the assistance of a Microsoft engineer.

working of contact tracing apps

The Healthy Together app makes use of Bluetooth and location data to track the daily movements of people. It has the technology which automatically checks whether a user comes in contact with a person infected with Covid-19 infected person. The app allows the feed any possible symptoms and if they seem relevant, they can be directed to the nearest testing centers.

A Noble named startup is also an app of a similar concept of Google and Apple. It is working in California and Berkley. The features and functionality are similar to that of Bluetooth. The app will notify the users when the user comes in contact with the people infected with Coronavirus.

So, if you are in the team to end the solution to this global crisis either use the contact tracing app development or develop a better one for your nation. If you want to develop a similar app, you can start sharing your idea and get started to work before it’s too late. But, before you jump into developing the app, there are plenty of things to know, discuss, and decide to make an informed decision.

Problems with Current Contract Tracing Apps

The majority of the issues with the contact tracing apps is about security and privacy. That is true from every aspect. Such apps need people’s location data constantly which is like a breach of their private matter. Plenty of people find this invasion of their privacy, someone tracking their location all the time. There are some other challenges to these apps as well. Let’s jot them as well.

Transparency

Security and privacy of people are very important in the case of critical diseases, flu, and viruses. People expect the app to be as transparent as possible. All the information they receive through these apps must be reliable and trustworthy.

Mobile app development companies must develop these apps and publish an open-source code specifying exactly what they are doing, why, and how they are doing. This will avoid confusion and a lack of trust among users using the app. This also falls within the consumer protection laws.

Also Read: How Coronavirus Will Impact Mobile Application Industry

Decentralized Data Storage

Tracing apps comes with a threat of privacy breaches. If you want to develop an app, this might be a staggering concern. Current developments are at present facing data issues.

The basic thing you need to focus on while developing a contact tracing app is about storing data locally on people’s phones. Also, the information of the encryption is anonymous. To make sure about the storage limit of an individual, an accurate storage limit must be placed. Keeping one mode for tracing the contact is enough.

Choose one from the following options, Bluetooth, Wifi, or GPS information used to track the movement of people. There are legal guidelines binding to state which information to track and collect. There are also local and federal law enforcement agencies applicable to sharing the collected information.

Minimum Information

Every contact tracing app must have information that is necessary and nothing extra. Such apps must contain a record of two people who are close to each other. It is measured through the Bluetooth signal and a unique beacon to know about other person’s devices.

Contact tracing mobile applications should not collect information about people’s location. The information regarding the date is important and collect it by this mobile application only if it is absolutely necessary.

Collecting sensitive information is very risky. There should be a time limit on such data and erase it after completion of its requirement. Delete the data from the user and the app side before anyone gets the opportunity to misuse it with malicious intent.

Now, let’s take a look at what issues might happen if the current contact tracing apps don’t pay heed data privacy issues.

India’s Arogya Setu App

aarogya setu app

Aarogya Setu App uses Bluetooth beacons to gather user data through GPS. The app is compulsory for the government and private sector employees to install and use. Arogya Setu app collects the location information and stores it locally every 15 minutes.

If any of the app users are positive, the information uploads on the server for the rest of the users to know and be alert. Indian government controls the app and server.

At the initial stage, the app collects data like age, sex, name, profession, and travel history of the last 30 days. Sorting out data of plenty of users is very time-consuming. At times, it might be possible that certain users might not be positive and they increase by the end of the calculation.

Singapore’s Trace Together App

Singapore’s Tracetogether App

It is not mandatory for users to install and use the TraceTogether app. But, it is working very efficiently to contain the spread of coronavirus in the nation. It will allow the MOH to instantly contact the user who has come in contact with a person who is a corona positive.

They also provide proper guidance on how to proceed with their condition, whom to contact, and what precautions to take. All the information is safely stored in the user’s device. The data is in the encrypted format and all the data which are stored for more than 21 days gets deleted automatically from the trace together contact tracing application.

One of the challenging parts of such an app is that it collects the mobile number of app users and stores all such things centrally. All these centrally stored data depend on network connectivity. With poor connection, it will take a longer time to collect and upload the data. With some error in the system, there is a high probability of losing all the data at once.

Australia’s COVID Safe

COVIDSafe App Australia

Just like every other app of this category, COVIDSafe App also collects data through Bluetooth beacons. The app will register other users who touched or were around other users through wireless communication.

User’s location and travel data get stored in their device and the government can use it with their permission. Once the information is shared, instant assistance is provided by the state and territory health officials who seem to have the coronavirus.

This app has also a similar risk of losing data or not being able to access or worst-case scenario is data falling into wrong hands.

Norway’s’ Smittestopp

Norway's’ Smittestopp App

With Smittestopp app, any user using the app can know if they have been around any infected person and if yes, they can take quick actions in the minimum time to stop it from spreading to more people. This helps in containing the virus and decreasing the excessive spread at a rapid pace.

The user stays anonymous and the Norwegian publish health also receives data anonymously about the movements pattern in the society. It helps in monitoring and working closely on the people infected with the virus.

Now, the concern with Norway’s contact tracing mobile application is that database is centralized and stores the data for 30 days. There is always a risk of losing valuable information along with losing their trust. Any nation would be afraid of losing sensitive and valuable data. If any such thing happens, the country would be under trouble politically.

This makes it very important for the nations to have their separate mobile application to track the infected people. Having one app for global use puts the data under great threat and impacts on the relation of the nations. It’s better if every nation has its personal app and maintains its citizen’s data and protects it.

Why Every Nation Need Their Personal Mobile App for Tracing Covid-19?

The government has a lot of pressure while developing such an app and asking users to use such an app. The app is for the benefit of the users. However, there are no divergent ways to the fact that such an app is risky.

Any misconduct or error can lead to the fall of the economy and the entire healthcare sector of that nation. The nation will fall in the entire world. This makes it their number one priority to follow every safety and privacy protocol while contact tracing mobile application development for their nation.

Here are some off the important points to consider while developing apps for your nation:

Localized Data Security

When you manage data locally, you are the one liable for managing it and you have to do it locally. The location of the data center is distant from the network hubs.

This makes health officials travel more for accumulating all the data. The surety of the data security will create trust among users and make more citizens use it. This in turn helps a lot in the fight against the pandemic.

Nations Economy is Maintained

There are several unique and advanced solutions the government can offer to the public. Say, for example, it can be cloud computing. This will maintain a good image of your nation among your citizens and also among other nations.

A mobile app will make health services fast and data more accurate. This way you won’t have to invite users to install and use the app. In fact, users will voluntarily join the app, share their true data to assist the government. They will appreciate the safety measures you are taking for them and participate with motivation.

Database under Control

It’s easier to control data from a local data center instead of controlling it from the centralized data center. Opting for a centralized approach might become complicated as it has to be managed over phone calls which increases the risk of errors.

Speed and Flexibility

It is better to allow the users to decide whether they want to share their personal information with the government or not. Having a nation-wise app will smooth things up for both users and the government as well.

Health ministry will have steady momentum in data collection and data management. Everyone wants and deserves the right to their personal information and with this app, they have their rights intact. The government of the nation has the right to delete the data as and when they want. This gives them speed and flexibility.

Wrapping Up

Following such security protocols will increase the value of every nation among its citizens. They help track the virus among people and more importantly stop its spread among other users. Mobile application development is the best way to develop and incorporate the trending technologies in the app and help everyone get rid of this virus at earliest.

FAQs

1. What is Contact tracing?

It is the process of knowing, assessing, and managing all the users who are at the threat of getting infected to the disease. It is an effective tool to control the virus and stop it from spreading.

2. How does a contact tracing app help in fighting against coronavirus?

When two individuals with these apps are close to each other, they exchange information through Bluetooth. When either of the individuals is Corona positive, the other one gets the signal through the app. To safeguard the identity of the infected person, the name is not revealed.

Only the number of infected people in a specific area displays to alert people. The person’s database is in constant sync and matches the codes and alerts about the positive cases in the surroundings.

3. How contact tracing application is helpful to the users?

It tracks infected people in the surrounding and sends the signal to other users. This way every user knows how much they are at risk. There is also an assessment test asking various health questions to the users to know how much they are at risk.

4. How much secure is this contact tracing app?

If the data gets managed locally, they are secure. Here the user can store their personal data and share it with the government and healthcare officials only when they are willing to. This way the security and privacy of the app stay intact.

5. Which nations have developed their own contact tracing app?

India, Australia, Europe, China, South Korea, Singapore, Austria, Germany, Utah, and several other countries have developed their contact tracing apps.

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Pratik Kanada

I am Pratik Kanada, founder & CEO of 360 Degree Technosoft, which makes app ideas into reality by providing unique design and development services across iOS and Android platforms. I generally write blogs on mobile technology, app development and app marketing.

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