With almost the entire year of 2020 devoting to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, global economies have resorted to technology to tackle and prevent the virus from destroying livelihood. As leading healthcare institutions work hard to develop a vaccine, economies have launched contact tracing apps. These tools have emerged as good application choices for governments and agencies globally.
The contact tracing app is created to trace individual movements across places and make people aware of the potential virus patients near them. Let us look at some of the top contact-tracing apps ruling the global economy.
The Singapore Government was one of the leading economies to develop and introduce a contact-tracing app in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. TraceTogether is a Bluetooth-based contact tracing application that works on any smartphone. Users will need a Singapore number and Bluetooth connectivity.
The TraceTogether app uses the user’s phone numbers and random personal IDs secured in a registry. This app’s distinctive feature is that it doesn’t collect and store personal information or location history. The smartphones that have the app installed connect with other app-enabled devices located near them and recorded each individual’s IDs who have come in contact. This data is then securely stored on the smartphone and shared when the people are diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus.
Once the person is diagnosed with COVID-19 positive, the data and logs will immediately be sent to the Singapore government for further analysis and determine the contact chain to prevent the spread of infection. Additionally, the app will deliver notifications to the respective people advising them to get tested or seek a self-isolation procedure. Singapore government recently released the app as an open-source, which is good for global app developers to benefit from this app.
The Australian Ministry of Health launched the COVIDSafe app that tracks the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The app has a total of over 6.5 million Australians who use the app and have registered themselves on it. This app also uses Bluetooth technology for functioning.
The COVIDSafe app can be installed on any mobile device that has Bluetooth connectivity. Users need to register themselves on the app with their details like name, age, phone number, and postal code. The data sharing option is consent-based. The app facilitates data exchange through Bluetooth connectivity with other app-enabled smartphones located nearby. It also captures the relative signal strength across devices to calculate the approximate distance between the persons.
Once a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 positive, a code will immediately be sent through an SMS by the health official. The patient can use the app to consent to share a list of anonymized IDs for contact-tracing functionality. This list will have the IDs of persons who came in contact with the infected individual. The Australian government has made the COVIDSafe application available in five more languages- Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Arabic, to encourage people to download the app and use it for significant social distancing.
The Aarogya Setu application is the most widely downloaded contact-tracing app. It recorded 50+ million downloads in less than a fortnight after its launch. It also emerged as one of the most controversial apps due to its privacy-invasive approach.
The Aarogya Setu app works on smartphones that have GPS and Bluetooth-enabled connectivity. These two functions are the primary features used by the app to track active COVID-19 cases. It accesses a national database and determines if a user has been in contact with any diagnosed COVID-19 positive case or if they have any risk of COVID-19 infection. The Aarogya Setu app also collects location information to help determine positive cases in a particular location.
Italy is one the worst and brutally hit nations by the COVID-19 virus. With COVID-19 raging on the country, the Italian government released its official contact-tracing app named Immuni. The voluntary app doesn’t collect any personal or geolocation data.
The Immuno app is built on the framework worked on by Apple and Google for tracking the COVID-19 infection. The app uses Bluetooth technology for functionality. Immuno is primarily an exposure notification app that exchanges active codes between app-enabled smartphones. Once an individual test COVID-19 positive, they need to mark their status on the app, which will alert all people who have earlier been in contact with the infected individual. The app will also advise the individuals to get themselves tested and seek a self-isolation procedure. The data collected by the Immuno app and its connections with the official server are highly encrypted.
In the wake of the COVID-19 virus, the Malaysian government released the MySejahtera app. Additionally, the health ministry also introduced monetary incentives to encourage citizens to download the app.
User needs to download and register themselves in the app providing necessary details. The app has self-assessment tests to guide and understand the health conditions of people. The app requires GPS permissions for functionality, and users can also check in with their location information and photographs. They can also monitor cases around their locality. Sejahtera is also a validated and active portal for useful information and guidelines to follow if a person is suspected of a COVID-19 infection. The app also contains relevant information on where a person can get tested and has links to avail the Doctor on Call online service there itself.
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