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Current Affairs

Contact tracing technology

Date: 13 April 2020 Tags: IT, Mobile & Computers

Issue

Global technology giants Apple and Google have announced that they are partnering on developing contact tracing technology to help governments and health authorities tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

 

Background

The tech companies announced that they would build a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.

 

Details

  • Contact tracing is considered essential for bringing epidemics under control, and is expected to help governments in relaxing lockdown orders. Via contact tracing, people who have come into contact with a person carrying a disease are alerted and identified.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) defines contact tracing as the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission.

  • Identifying people at the onset of symptoms and promptly isolating them reduces exposure to other persons, preventing subsequent infections.

  • Additionally, prompt isolation and admission of the symptomatic person to a treatment facility decreases the delay to supportive treatment, which improves the likelihood of survival.

  • By May, both companies will release application programming interfaces (APIs) that would enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities.

  • When this step is realised, phone-based matching via official apps will help alert people if they have come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • For this to work, COVID-19 patients would have to declare their status to the respective apps voluntarily. Following this, all people whose Android/iOS smartphones were detected nearby such patients, would get notified. This means, you will be notified even if you were around a stranger who has tested positive for the disease.

  • In the second step, Bluetooth-based contact tracing will be built into the Android and iOS platforms, and users would be able to use the feature without downloading an app.