The World Health Organisation (WHO) is preparing an app to aid people analyse whether they might have the fatal coronavirus. The app is expected to launch this month and hopes to help and do well in countries that lack resources. The most important feature that is being looked at is proximity tracing.
The app will also include symptom analyses by asking people certain questions consequently giving information on whether they may have contracted the infectious disease. Moreover, to educate people on where and how to get tested, the app will be customised according to the country of the user.
Most importantly, the app will be able to monitor and log the user’s movements to record and alert if one ever came across an infected individual. Contract tracing becomes essential when people in need of essential items are obligated to move out of their houses. Also, economies that are slowly opening up will benefit greatly from keeping a tap on an individual’s whereabouts.
‘Virtual Handshakes’ is what has been used to refer to the event of two phones being in the vicinity of a few feet for at least 5 minutes. The technology involved with tracing permits access to proximity tools which could be seriously misused later by businesses for personal gains. These concerns have been expressed by Bernardo Mariano, the chief information officer for the WHO. “We want to make sure we ring-fence all the risks around it” he said.
Google and Apple have already joined hands with WHO and assured that their systems won’t be using any of the user data for wrongful motives and will cease the specific technologies once the pandemic ends.
Even though some countries including India have already released apps for the virus and have similar aims and features, WHO will still release the application globally. The countries will have full access to make additions according to citizen convenience and even release their own versions on app stores.
Mariano talked about how “The value is really for countries that do not have anything.” In order to reach remote areas with limited to no internet access, information will be received via text messages.
Mariano also mentioned focusing on mental health in the midst of the pandemic and plans on including a self-help guide for the same. WHO already has a general app which is extremely similar to its website. Besides this, the organisation is also working on an app for Healthcare workers which is scheduled to release next week. The app aims to guide workers about undertaking the best measures, from protective gear to washing hands.