The fight against Coronavirus in some countries, including South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Israel, is also based on tracking infected people and on the availability of apps to avoid contact with people or places at risk.
The government of South Korea sends real-time alerts via SMS, apps and online about the number of confirmed coronavirus cases (COVID-19) and the travel histories of infected people. The Ministry of the Interior and Security of this country has developed an app that allows quarantined people to stay in contact with those in the field. The app also uses GPS to track their location to make sure they are not violating the quarantine. The use of the app is not mandatory as also phone calls can be made.
The government provides, in open data format, anonymous information on the location and movements of people tested positive for Coronavirus in the last 14 days. Thanks to the availability of this information, Lee Don Hung has developed Corona Map, a site that provides a map of cases of infection and reconstructs the history of the movements of infected people.
Bae Won-Seok has instead created Corona 100m, an application that alerts users when they are less than 100 meters from a place visited by an infected person. The app allows users to comfortably avoid potentially dangerous places without having to check the travel history of infected people. The app has recorded more than one million downloads in the first ten days since its introduction.
The Korea Herald reports that South Korea will further enhance monitoring, starting today, by running a “smart city technology system” to help health investigators quickly check surveillance camera footage and credit card transactions of confirmed COVID-19 patients to recreate their paths.
Previously, investigators at the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Disease Prevention (KCDC) had to request and wait for data such as surveillance camera footage and credit card transactions of patients confirmed by police investigators.
The new system, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Ministry of Territory, Infrastructure and Transport and the KCDC, allows to immediately analyze “various data” on confirmed patients of COVID-19 and to provide them to health investigators. The system is based on the “smart city data hub program” currently being developed by the central government and the municipal government of Daegu.
Singapore also adopts a strategy similar to the Korean one. At the heart of their model is what authorities call “contact tracking”, i.e. tracing patients’ steps to find other potential cases with the help of the police. The system involves interviewing patients, calling their contacts and even collecting data on their movements from transport companies.
The General Attorney of the State of Israel has approved the special measures for the fight against coronavirus requested by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who asked to use the technological surveillance systems that Shin Bet, the internal secret services, use in the war on terrorism.
Through geo-location it will be possible to monitor who has tested positive, identify the places where these people have passed and check that they do not violate the period of isolation at home. The Shin Bet stated that privacy will not be violated, and the information will not be used to impose quarantine but only used to reconstruct the map of the movements of the infected.