The increasingly large number of cases globally of the COVID-19 virus has been a major cause for concern since early January. With the World Health Organization labelling the virus as a pandemic. Efforts to track and flatten the curve are underway throughout the world, and one such technological advancement to make efforts easier has been introduced in the United Arab Emirates.
TraceCovid is a mobile application which tracks and alerts citizens who have come recently in contact with a COVID-19 infected patient. The app has been developed by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), and functions through a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.
There are just 2 steps required to register:
2. Switch your Bluetooth on to get connected.
And that is it! The basic idea is that when you connect through Bluetooth, you are automatically being traced with your whereabouts by the system. Similarly, anyone else who has the application on their phone is also having their movements traced. When two phones are close to each other, they exchange a Tracing Identifier which is secure and entirely encrypted. This identifier is then stored in both of their phones upon close contact.
So how is this identifier useful? – Now, if one of the users happens to contract the virus, the relevant authorities will reach out to the user and get the consent to access their TraceCovid information. Through that information, they would be able to track all the people the patient has been in close proximity to, and send them a notified alert about them being potentially exposed to the virus. This helps the notified individuals to self quarantine and keep a watch out for any symptoms, and most importantly, not go outside and possibly pass on the virus to anyone else. This also gives authorities a good approximation of at-risk users and who to keep within their radar.
Although it sounds jarring, the comforting bit about all of this is the promise by the makers of the application that none of your personal data would be shared. However, this is a community based effort. It will only work on a large scale if everyone, including friends and family download the application. In doing so, there is a larger number of users on the database who are being traced and alerted if they happen to be at risk. And most importantly, the best way to ensure accurate data is being taken is to keep your application running in the background constantly, so that it continues tracing and keeping you safe!