The COVID-19 pandemic has pivoted technology to the forefront. Technology is now providing much-required non-pharma interventions. It is helping countries to get their economies back on track. In this battle, Contact Tracing Apps have become key to their efforts. All the major countries are now working towards a secure contact tracing apps. In a first, Google and Apple are working together to get a contact tracing app to the market. SAP is working with Deutsche Telecom to provide tracing app for Germany,
In this blog, I try to answer three basic questions on Contact tracing Apps
WHY IS IT REQUIRED?
Contact tracing has been quite successful in earlier epidemics – Ebola, MERS. Earlier, health professional used to the telephone-based tracking system. Here it is more critical to have a technology-based solution.
- Covid-19 is a transmittable disease like normal flu. ( R0 in the range of 2-3.)
- Most of the positive cases are asymptomatic. It is quite difficult to contain the spread.
- The incubation period and the infection period is quite high. The incubation period varies from 2-14 days and the infection period is around 10 days.
In a pandemic, it would be impossible to keep a track of all cases and their contact without the help of technology.
HOW CAN IT HELP?
Contact tracing App can assist in:
- Regular follow up for updating the case. In place of telephone calls, we can have smart apps and surveys to track the health of the patients. Apps to measure temperature can be part of regular tracking. Also, we can render smart surveys which will ask intelligent health-related questions.
- Creation of a database of all the patients and contacts. It enables regular notification for all to adhere to quarantine and isolation rules. We can use Bluetooth technology to warn citizen if they came across any victims or contacts. So, it can create a dynamic risk profile of the citizen based on their activities – like Arogya Setu App
- Assist the patient for any urgent needs and requirements. It enables the sharing economy by connecting them with centralised help centres.
- Act as a digital certificate to enter any premise or avail of any public services. For example, passengers with arogya setu app installed can avail aviation services.
- In future, this app can track more of the health parameters. It can determine your insurance premium.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
I foresee the tracing app continuing its relevance post-COVID-19 era. It can upgrade into a universal app to hold all your public identity documents. Documents like passport, driving license, national universal id will integrate into it. There are obvious concerns about making all your data public and national surveillance. Technology companies like SAP, Apple, Google are working towards a decentralised database. It enables users to be the master of their data and can be an acceptable solution. As it was mentioned in the spiderman movie, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.
The race is on – its nice to see technology in the forefront in this battle against COVID-19. We are producing a series on the impact of COVID-19 on various industries. We will be shortly producing a podcast on the contact tracing app. Stay tuned.sap.to/podcast
I am not part of the team which is involved in creation of the Corona Warn App. This blog series in part of my effort to pen down all my learnings. The interviews of industry experts and veterans are the basis of my insights. You can find the interviews here: sap.to/podcast
The views expressed here are mine only and not of SAP.
If you have any comments or feedback, you can reach me on twitter @subhankarp