What countries like Singapore, South Korea or China have in common in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is they practice “Contact Tracing.”
Basically, they interview patients, who tested positive for the virus, about where they were and who they have been around recently. The information would help to identify areas and people who could also be at risk.
Here’s how it works
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has been around since 2011. That “ding” you hear when you put the AirPods into your ears? That’s BLE connecting the AirPods to your iPhones.
With contact tracing features, you’ll also hear an alert, as the technology would warn you if you are at risk.
For example: If you hang out with a friend and two weeks later, the friend tested positive for COVID-19, your smartphone would alert you of this information.
But of course, for the features to work, it must have data.
Here are the challenges
Collecting data would require two things:
- Consent of the consumers. The consumers would have to opt-in to activate the features and the infected person would have to volunteer their positive test results, so the features can alert their contacts.
- Collaboration from local governments to localize the features, such as health information and suggestions, and of course, have them in Thai language.
Hence, consumer privacy could become an issue.
Nonetheless, both Google and Apple have said that the technology will be done with respect to consumer privacy. For example, location tracking will not be used. There must be user agreement in order to disclose any information.
Here’s when it will be available
The feature is slated to be available in May through Application Programming Interface or API for those who own an Android 6.0 or an iPhone 6S, or any newer models.
Keep an eye out for a new iOS update from your iPhone notifications, or a new Google Play Services update in your Android’s Google Play Store.