Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world, with more than three million confirmed cases in 185 countries. More than 200,000 people have lost their lives. Some countries, like South Korea and Singapore, have done a better job than, say, Italy and Spain. Asian countries have used a range of technologies in their fight against the pandemic.
Digital technology has been widely used to help limit the spread of coronavirus. During the COVID-19 pandemic, technologies are playing a crucial role in keeping our society functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantines. And these technologies may have a long-lasting impact beyond COVID-19.
Here is the list of technologies that different countries are using to fight coronavirus pandemic.
Aarogya Setu app
The Indian government has launched a smartphone app called AarogyaSetu to help track coronavirus patients and the people they come in contact with. Available in 11 languages, the app was launched on both Andriod and iOS. It uses Bluetooth technology to allow people to check whether there is a coronavirus case in their vicinity.
A Gurgaon based startup, Staqu, recently announced an array of offerings to facilitate superior COVID-19 response. The brand is leveraging its proprietary video analytics platform JARVIS to roll out cutting-edge use-cases aimed at identifying, tracing, and curbing the spread of COVID-19 and similar contagion.
As the number of coronavirus infections increases across the world, Australia has launched an app for tracing those who have come in contact with confirmed patients. This comes amid concerns that such smartphone apps may infringe upon citizens' privacy. Using a Bluetooth wireless signal, the COVIDSafe app allows health officials to access crucial information about a person's interactions if they contract the virus. All mobile phone numbers within a 1.5-meter range of the infected person — for 15 minutes or more — will be stored.
Health apps have been a crucial element of China's race to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Users scan QR codes to share information about their health status and travel history. These codes need to be scanned before boarding buses and trains or entering airports, offices and even their own housing complexes. Different colors on the apps indicate different levels of risk, with green codes granted unrestricted movement, yellow codes for seven days of quarantine, and red codes for those who required 14 days of quarantine. The apps can trace whether users have been in contact with infected people.
As Italy mulls measures for a gradual lifting of its coronavirus lockdown, the country is working on an app that would trace people who have come in contact with a confirmed case. Acknowledging concerns over privacy and data control, innovation minister Paola Pisano said it would help in bringing the country back towards relative normalcy. A fast tender was launched for the app — to cover monitoring and medical support — towards the end of March, receiving hundreds of proposals that are currently being assessed. The app would work on a voluntary basis and have a clearly defined objective.
COVID-19 Smart Management System
South Korea was one of the first countries to experience a coronavirus outbreak and used massive testing and technology to emerge as a case study for controlling the number of cases nationwide. South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) runs COVID-19 Smart Management System (SMS), a contact tracing system that runs through smartphone apps and helps the authorities analyze the movement of affected patients and those in quarantine.
The country will also begin strapping electronic wristbands on those who ignore home-quarantine orders. A refusal to use the band would result in the person being moved to a shelter, which they will have to pay for themselves.
The marketplaces’ location sharing and health mapping features are often used for effective contact tracing, which has been the strongest aid in fighting COVID-19 thus far. The insights gathered by the Aiisma ecosystem naturally create a digital fence against the COVID-19 spread, supporting citizens and authorities within the fight against the virus. In light of present COVID-19 situation, Aiisma has also expedited the discharge of its health mapping feature for people, to manually share and monitor health insights. Increased use of the app will enable authorities with pro-active responses, because of sudden variations within the data pool. It also intends to release a trigger function for authorities to send anonymous alerts to any Aiisma users who might come in contact with any positive tested carrier.
Other COVID-19 Tracing apps
After pushing for a home-grown alternative, Germany has changed tracks to back an approach supported by US tech giants Apple and Google. The German-led alternative was called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), with the country's Fraunhofer HHI research institute and the Robert Koch Institute public health body as key players. It received criticism over a central database. It has now chosen to support Apple and Google's approach, with decentralized software architecture. The data, in this case, will be stored on users' phones.