articles | 06 April 2020

Technology recruited in fight against coronavirus

Cyprus is using technology in its struggle to stem the spread of COVID-19 by launching an application to help people who don’t work from home to keep track of their contacts and locations visited, in case they contract the disease.

The app, dubbed COVTRACER, was developed by the Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies (RISE) in cooperation with the Deputy Ministry of Innovation.

The company said that COVTRACER is only intended for employees and workers who need to work outside and cannot stay at home, such as policemen, doctors and nurses, firemen, and people working in utilities providing electricity, water, internet, and other essential services.

According to Rise, the CovTracer app “works for halting the COVID-19 pandemic in Cyprus by facilitating tracing of infected patients and accelerating action-taking.”

Users will be able to record their location via GPS, all information remains on the device but used only in the case the person is tested positive for the virus, said Rise.

The application offers the user the choice to share the geolocation data of their movements during the previous two weeks with epidemiologists.

The epidemiologists will then check this information and trace contacts and take other necessary activities such as performing disinfections of locations visited by that person.

“If the patient wishes, the geo-locations of his/her movements can become anonymous and public on the database of COVTRACER,” said Rise.

It said that patients’ personal data such as their address and any other identification traces are removed.

Other users of the app will be able to view on their device anonymous geolocation data of the movements of confirmed COVID-19 patients which coincide with their own movements.

If they have coronavirus symptoms, they will then need to contact authorities and ask for advice.

Rise said that this is the first version of the mobile app and should be used only by employees and workers who need to work outside and cannot stay at home.

“As for the rest of the Cyprus population, we strongly advise them to stay at home in order to stem the spread of the virus,” said the company.

According to the company the application was developed following a request by the Deputy Minister for Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriacos Kokkinos, for suggestions that could offer quick and innovative solutions to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

It added that the application is based on the Safepaths technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (ΜΙΤ).

The project has already received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and from the Cyprus government.

The application can be downloaded from the following link: http://covid-19.rise.org.cy/

The company stresses that the current application should only be downloaded by those who cannot work from home.

Rise is developing another three new services in cooperation with doctors and epidemiologists which will include in a future edition of the application.

Source: Financial Mirror

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