AI, App, Location Tracking, Smart Imaging: Technologies In the Time Of Coronavirus

The rapid spread of Covid-19 has forced countries to turn to technologies to beat the virus. Some countries are doing it better than the other. Italy and Spain could not use technologies in time; South Korea and Singapore used it smartly to contain the spread of virus.

Britain’s NHS is in talks to roll out a smartphone app that instantly traces close contacts of people carrying the coronavirus and advises them to self-isolate.

The app, developed by NHSX – the health service’s digital transformation arm – with academic and industry partners is in advanced stages of evaluation and is weeks away from being ready to be deployed.

Here is a snapshot of how technologies are being used in different countries:

Location Tracking

Possibly the most commonly used technology by governments, tracking people’s whereabouts through the location information provided by their phones has been crucial to identifying where an infected person went before being quarantined and how many people were in close proximity to the patient. Israel has allowed its internal security agency the use of its citizens’ location data for 30 days. South Korea, China and Taiwan have also used location-tracking widely to limit the transmission of the virus. However, in Europe, which has stricter laws on data protection, Germany and Italy are using anonymised location data to identify public spaces where people are gathering in groups by defying lockdowns.

Test Yourself Goa

Test Yourself Goa app is developed by Goa Ministry of Health in collaboration with Innovaccer to fight coronavirus pandemic in the state. The official app description of Test Yourself Goa states that users here can self-diagnose coronavirus symptoms.

Once the user opens the app, a page notifies readers that Test Yourself Goa “does not provide medical advice.” The Privacy Policy page comes next following which the app asks for basic user information including name, number, zip code, and residency status. There is also a survey that has six basic questions that can be answered in either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The questions are mainly related to users’ travel history, and present symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath etc.

Corona Kavach

The government of India’s Corona Kavach COVID-19 tracking app has been developed by the National e-Governance Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in association with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW). Corona Kavach is different from MeitY’s COVID19 Feedback app. While the former has been designed to capture the outbreak, the latter collects feedback on any treatment undergone by individuals.

Corona Kavach is only available for Android devices currently. MeitY notes that the app’s “beta version is still undergoing final testing before its official release.” You can download the app from the Google Play Store from the following link.

Smart Imaging

In an effort to enable contactless and rapid temperature detection, China is using AI-powered thermal cameras to identify those in a crowd who have a fever. The country is also deploying facial-recognition systems to identify those not wearing masks.

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