Many tech companies believe that apps can help us fight the coronavirus. The main form of apps that companies think can help us fight coronavirus are surveillance apps.
Such applications have the potential to track and contain the spread of COVID-19. The process is known as ‘contact tracing’, reports Reuters. That process is used to control the spread of infectious diseases.
Google & Apple announced a collaboration on an app to fight coronavirus
Now, many of you know that Google and Apple actually announced a huge collaboration last week. The two companies are collaborating on apps that can identify people who have crossed paths with a contagious patient. Once that happens, such an app would alert the user.
This collaboration between two mobile giants, and competitors, managed to surprise quite a few people. It is also a testament to how serious the situation is. It remains to be seen what will come out of this collaboration.
How do such apps work, though? Well, they keep track of the user’s location via cell-tower signals, Wi-Fi signals, and the satellite-based global positioning system (GPS).
Smartphones, and apps that are installed on them, can also utilize Bluetooth connectivity if necessary. Bluetooth is only useful for nearby devices, though.
Apps can help with social distancing
Such apps can also help with social distancing in general. They can notice when people are not in their homes, or when they’re gathering in large numbers. This can be used on people who are ordered to stay inside, or who are infected.
There are more uses for such apps. If an app detects that you’ve been in contact with someone who ended up being positive to coronavirus, it can ping you to get tested yourself, and to begin self-isolating completely.
We’re mostly speaking in theory, at this point, as not many such apps are available. Singapore actually released a contact tracing app that utilizes Bluetooth not long ago. The app is called ‘TraceTogether’, and we’ve talked about it in March.
Singapore has been quite proactive when it comes to coronavirus, and it paid off thus far. Israel, on the other hand, has also rolled out a similar app called ‘TheShield’. India followed afterward with its own iteration.
South Korea is using mobile phone location tracing as we speak. Taiwan uses it for quarantine enforcement, and it is working on an app as well. And so on. Many companies are currently working on such systems.
If Google and Apple develop one such solution together, it could have a huge impact. Those two companies basically own the smartphone market, when smartphone OS’ are concerned. The vast majority of smartphones ship with Android or iOS, and those two OS’ are developed by these two companies.
People will still need to download the app these two companies end up releasing, in order to have any use of it. This solution will not be built into Android and iOS directly.
Apps can help us fight coronavirus, but what about privacy?
Now, some of you may wonder, but what about privacy? Privacy is always an issue, and it’s quite a sensitive topic. People are already feeling like they’re being watched thanks to technology, and such apps and tech certainly won’t help with that.
Pretty much everyone agreed that such tracking logs should be deleted after one month, so, in theory, that should not be an issue. There are a number of such safety rules in place, though it all depends on the country and the situation.
What should ease your fear of governments invading your privacy is the fact that no country issued mandatory installs for an app. The company that you work for may require you to do so, though, at some point. As we said, it all depends on the situation and where you live in. The bottom line is, apps can help us fight coronavirus, but privacy may be an issue.