China's Coronavirus App Knows if You're at Risk of Infection
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With over 1,000 deaths, people are understandably very concerned about the spread of coronavirus. In China, strong measures are being used to stop the spread, but now there's also an app allowing people there to check how likely they are to get infected.
As the BBC reports, the app is called the "close contact detector" and it relies on the high level of surveillance the Chinese government carries out on its citizens. Once the app is downloaded and installed, an individual enters their name and ID number. The app then checks the recent movements of the individual against confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus infection.
If an individual has come into near or direct contact with an infected person, the app will know and advise them to both stay at home and contact local health authorities. I'd also be very surprised if the app didn't also inform the authorities in case the person decides not to.
What classes as close contact includes people who work together, passengers and crew traveling together on any form of public transport, and any medical staff including their family members who are at the highest risk of being in the same room as someone with the coronavirus.
According to Carolyn Bigg, a technology lawyer at Hong Kong-based law firm DLA Piper, "From a Chinese perspective this is a really useful service for people ... It's a really powerful tool that really shows the power of data being used for good."
As for how the app came to be, it was developed by the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation in conjunction with government departments and the health and transport authorities. Without having full access to all the data from so many different departments, the app simply wouldn't be able to function correctly and be of any real use.