Despite Privacy Concerns, Smart Contact Tracing Is Extremely Important In Controlling The Spread Of The Coronavirus
Contact tracing allows us to find people at higher risk due to potential exposure, contact and alert them, and prevent the spread of the virus. This established technique could be made more effective by using smartphones if we can find a way to overcome privacy issues. Until sometime back, the process was made up of people compiling a list of their contacts and the contacts tracing their contacts and so on, until the network was fully examined.
While it would be nice to be able to piece together a contagious person’s week from a hundred cameras spread throughout the city and background location data collected by social media, the potential for abuse of such a system should make us thankful it is not so easy as that.
Bluetooth chips are being tested which works in the usual manner, but one which does not forget devices it comes into contact with. The idea is when someone tests positive for COVID-19, instead of requesting the person a list of those who have been in contact with them, we would simply look at the devices anonymously recorded in the person’s phone. The reason why it has not taken off is because of privacy and security issues. Some countries and hospitals have started using it. Opting in is optional, which is a drawback since it will not provide the full picture. While there are risks present, they are minor since it is anonymous. More people participating in this would mean better health benefits.
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