Battle Against Novel Coronavirus Goes High-Tech

Global governments and health authorities are making efforts towards easing COVID-19 impacts, while working towards finding solutions to the pandemic and save lives and economy.

In line with these efforts, several governments are also leveraging the power of technology to track coronavirus cases or people coming in contact with the COVID-19 infected people. Moreover, using tech platforms, governments are also raising awareness among their citizens.

Australia’s Battle Against COVID-19 with Technology Use

Deloitte's Mobile Consumer Survey 2019 revealed that 91% of Aussies have access to a smartphone device. The two dominant players in the Australian smartphone market are Apple and Samsung, accounting for a market share of 40% and 36%, respectively.

As smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, the Government is going hi-tech even in battle against COVID-19 while continuing its efforts towards easing coronavirus impact and getting the economy back on track. The Fed government plans to launch a mobile phone app that would track the movement of Australians with their permission.

As on 15 April 2020, at 6:00 AM, Australia reported 6,416 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 50 cases were new. Around 61 people have died because of COVID-19 in the country. Although the number of new cases is less as compared to several other nations, growing cases of coronavirus is a big reason for worry. The majority of the cases are reported from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

To prevent the spread, the Government has activated response plan for COVID-19 and has undertaken several initiatives towards addressing the coronavirus outbreak. It has been nearly a month that Australia is in the lockdown state and there has been a restriction on travelling and social gathering. The Federal Government believes that restriction on the public would be eased with the help of increased testing and greater surveillance of those people infected with coronavirus as well as people who have come in contact with the infected people.

For this, at least 40% of the Australian citizens need to use this app, which would be tracking the daily interaction of the people via GPS.

Through this app, the user can stay updated with the official information on COVID-19. Users would get access to vital health advice to help stop the virus spread and stay healthy, in addition to a snapshot of present official status within Australia. The user can check his/her symptoms of coronavirus as well as of any other person. They would also have access to latest data from the Australian Government and would receive notifications of crucial information & updates.

Meanwhile, the Government would be providing more test kits for the virus testing, delivering more details about the scale and extent of the virus spread to health authorities.

Coronavirus Mobile Tracker in Singapore

Singapore has also rolled out a mobile app, developed by Singapore's Government Technology Agency and the health ministry. The app, namely TraceTogether, is designed for detecting coronavirus infections and operates via Bluetooth signals between phones at a distance of 2 metres. The records will be stored locally on each device with the app.

Coronavirus Tracker in Japan

Besides Singapore, the other nation that would be using a mobile app for identifying any COVID-19 cases is Japan. The app, to be made available to the public by the end of April 2020, would be available for free on Apple and Google's operating systems. The app would detect other smartphones in the close vicinity for some time via Bluetooth and save the encrypted phone number data.

In case, the app user is caught infected with the virus, the app would notify the people who are in the nearby location. After some time, the app data would be deleted automatically.

It is to be noted that downloading such apps isn’t mandatory, though the governments are seeking maximum support.

Google and Apple Team Up on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology

As many software developers are working on technical tools that help in fight against the virus, two big players from the technology sector, Google and Apple recently entered into a partnership, as part of their efforts towards finding a solution to coronavirus crisis, thereby protecting people and at the same time bringing back the society to normal.

These tech players would make joint efforts towards enabling the use of Bluetooth technology to assist governments as well as health agencies with trimming down the virus spread while focusing on securing the user data and maintaining user privacy to the design.

As coronavirus can spread in near vicinity of the infected person, public health officials have found contact tracing as a useful tool to aid in containing the spread. Many top public health specialists, universities, as well as NGOs have been working on this front on a global scale to create opt-in contact tracing technology.

Other than this, the companies would be rolling out a comprehensive two-step solution, covering operating system-level technology and application programming interface (API) for easing contact tracing.

In the first step, they would be releasing the application programming interfaces in May 2020. Through this API, Android as well as iOS devices would interoperate amongst themselves using apps from public health authorities. These official applications would be made available to the users on app stores from where they can be downloaded.

In the second step, to be undertaken in upcoming months, they would be working together enabling a contact tracing platform based on Bluetooth technology by building this feature into the core platforms. This would facilitate more people to participate, if they choose to opt in & allow contact with a larger network of applications as well as government health authorities.

All these initiatives highlight how governments, health authorities, businesses and other members of the society are working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to bring back the everyday normal life.


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