Authorities is contemplating constructing a smartphone software utilizing the COVID-19 publicity notification system developed by Google and Apple for Android and iOS units, a spokesperson for the Division of Well being has stated.
South Africa doesn’t at present have a cell software that may make use of the publicity notification API developed by Apple and Google that makes use of Bluetooth Low Vitality (BLE) know-how.
As a substitute, the Nationwide Division of Well being in South Africa has centered on a system referred to as COVIDConnect, which was developed in partnership with BCX and the Praekelt Basis.
COVIDConnect works on WhatsApp, SMS, and USSD and isn’t a smartphone software in its personal proper.
The Division of Well being stated that one of many causes it selected these applied sciences is to make sure it reached as many South Africans as doable, as nicely get the specified use out of the system at scale.
The goal with COVIDConnect is for presidency to have a device to assist it with pandemic administration, contact tracing, and communication with sufferers and their shut contacts.
Because it runs on platforms like WhatsApp, SMS, and USSD, COVIDConnect makes use of a chatbot for its consumer interface.
It offers sufferers with their coronavirus take a look at outcomes and prompts them with questions to assist gauge how extreme their signs are. It then advises sufferers to both self quarantine or search medical consideration relying on the severity of the case.
Sufferers also can add the knowledge of individuals they’ve been in shut contact with within the days earlier than they examined constructive for the coronavirus.
These “declared contacts” are then despatched an SMS and brought to a special a part of the COVIDConnect system which additionally begins with a symptom questionnaire.
Sufferers and contacts are despatched every day monitoring messages with the goal of serving to healthcare employees preserve monitor of the standing of COVID-19 sufferers and individuals who might have been uncovered to the virus.
Apple-Google COVID-19 publicity notification partnership
On 11 April 2020, Apple and Google introduced that they’d partnered to develop an software programming interface (API) for COVID-19 publicity notification.
A part of the specification of the know-how is that no personally figuring out data or location knowledge is collected.
Quite than counting on GPS monitoring or another change of non-public knowledge, the publicity notification framework constructed into Android and iPhone units makes use of Bluetooth low-energy alerts to find out whether or not two individuals had been in shut proximity to one another.
In response to Google, their system was closely impressed by the Decentralized Privateness-Preserving Proximity Tracing protocol (DP-3T), which was developed by a staff of European researchers.
DP-3T was one in every of many protocols developed by researchers to attempt to deal with the privateness issues as they relate to automated contact tracing. Others embrace the Short-term Contact Numbers Protocol (TCN) and the Non-public Automated Contact Tracing (PACT) system from MIT.
Collaborating app wanted
Whereas the Apple-Google API has been rolled out to Android and iOS units, the businesses have said that it doesn’t work with out a taking part app put in.
Every nation can solely have one official taking part publicity notification app, and the 2 tech giants have strict necessities relating to knowledge privateness.
A number of European governments and epidemiologists have requested Apple and Google to loosen up these privateness necessities.
They defined that apps constructed utilizing the Apple-Google API are basically ineffective to researchers and don’t present contact tracers with any helpful knowledge to assist them do their jobs.
Since no private data is gathered, the framework additionally doesn’t give governments the knowledge they should observe up with individuals who might have been uncovered to the virus or implement their quarantine guidelines.
BCX has said that COVIDConnect was in-built a means that it may be prolonged with this type of automated contact tracing know-how.
It is going to be as much as the Division of Well being to determine whether or not it can use an app based mostly on the mannequin offered by Apple and Google, or whether or not it can take a special method.