Social distancing is the most effective way to slow down the pandemic. Putting the whole population on quarantine might work for a few weeks before the worldwide economie collapses. Therefore we need to move away from quarantine towards smart social distancing and corona tracing apps like Coronow.
We are currently at the start of an pandemic crisis. If no measures are taken, the virus will expand at exponential speed, our healthcare system will collapse, causing deaths in the thousands or even millions worldwide. We want people to stay safe and healthy and help them to act proactively in order to keep other people safe as well. Tech is the answer.
What it does
CoroNow exchanges short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other participating CoroNow users in close proximity of up to 2 meters. Records of such encounters are stored locally on each user’s phone. If a user has been positively tested for COVID-19, his/her encounters within the past 14 days get notified (through a push notification) on what next steps to take (social distancing, observing whether they develop symptoms, contacting a near-by hospital etc). Additionally, the infected user can consent to send his/her CoroNow data to the health authorities.
This enables users to take the necessary action sooner, such as keeping isolated for the required time until they might show symptoms and are tested for COVID-19.
Additionally features are a chat bot/ questionnaire to ask the user for symptoms and general health conditions and to provide information. Also, there are regular reminders to take the necessary measures when you are on the move (social distancing, cleaning hands, keeping you hands off your face etc.) and social rewards if you adhere to them offering an external incentive for social distancing. As a view to external verified institutions such as health authorities, CoroNow offers a dashboard to share instructions and alerts.
Challenges we ran into
We pivoted from tracking people’s movements and matching motion profiles to using bluetooth technology to identify close proximity to infected people due to 3 main reasons:
- less data-security concerns. The data stays with the user.
- less computationally expensive than matching entire motion profiles over days more accuracy
- more accuracy than in motion profiles (users can have same GPS coordinates but not be physically close, e.g. in high buildings)
Accomplishments that we are proud of
One of the features is that health systems can be prepared by mapping a new infection wave. If someone is infected a push notification will be sent based on the movement profile. This tracking option can be used by the government which impose a curfew or by the authority which decide to place an infected person in quarantine.
Other interesting and helpful features include:
- social rewards (gamification) to playfully increase awareness
- innovative user interaction to make it easy for everyone to understand
What we learned
- Coordinating a large group remotely can be challenge but you find solutions.
- It is important and fun to appreciate each other's work.
- A crisis like this makes people focus on the things that matter and help them become creative.
- We are all in the same boat. This crisis leaves (almost) nobody unaffected. Working together towards a common goal helps to overcome this crisis that poses a challenge to all of us.
What's next for 08_Corona Contact Tracker_CoroNow
- Get the prototype with core features up and running.
- Test the prototype
- Build collaborations with sponsors, governments, health authorities etc.
- Clarify data security concerns, as (also the legal) situation is dynamic.
- Iterate on the core functionality of the prototype.
- Add additional features to app, such as notification of (negative) test results and measurement of blood oxygen test via smartphone camera according to Sp02 standard.
- The information and logic can be adjusted as CoroNow is adapted by other countries.