The system is available free-of-charge and uses a mobile mesh network and a unique device ID so no one will see a user’s private information, claims the developer.
A white-label contact-tracing solution for Covid-19 that claims to keep a person’s anonymity has been made available by software-only mesh networking provider HypeLabs,
CovidApp.org is ready for deployment and will be free to all states and countries that wish to use it, said HypeLabs.
It is already being used by Colombia where it has been downloaded by one million people. A HypeLabs spokesperson told SmartCitesWorld that it is also in talks with Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and some countries in the European Union.
CovidApp is a private and anonymous contact-tracing system that detects physical proximities between smartphones and works in conjunction with hospitals and governments to inform users – even those without an internet connection – about their likelihood of a Covid-19 exposure if they have crossed paths with someone who has already contracted the virus.
The tracing app uses HypeLabs’ patented mobile mesh network technology. This software uses random ID numbers that do not require any database or the private information of individuals. Mobile mesh networks are automatically built between devices when these have installed any application with HypeLabs software development kit (SDK).
“[This means that] the moment CovidApp is launched in a city, or the moment an app integrates the SDK, devices will immediately start connecting directly to each other forming the patented private mesh networks,” said the spokesperson.
Smartphones that have the app installed will be capable of exchanging Bluetooth and wi-fi signals when the devices are within range of one another, even without internet or mobile data. Records of those encounters will be stored in the device for up to 14 days and subsequently sent to a central server.
“It is important to emphasise that no one will ever see the users’ private information.”
If someone has tested positive for Covid-19, others that were in proximity contact with that person will be alerted to be tested or to initiate a preventive quarantine immediately. Web portals for both health and government officials allow authorised officials to distribute information to the end-users, from important announcements to health recommendations for containment of the virus.
Only authorised medical personnel can interact with the health web portal and update the health status of tested citizens.
Contact-tracing apps have been used in a number of countries to try to curb the spread of the virus and could be used to potentially relax lockdown measures but the technology has also raised some concerns over civil liberties.
Earlier this month, the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) coalition was formed to develop smartphone proximity-tracing tools which adhere to European privacy and data protection laws and principles.
HypeLabs explained that anonymity and privacy are achieved within its app by implementing important security measures on two sides of the system.
On the application side, no user data or personal information is requested. Every device is attributed a random private ID that automatically renews from time to time in order to increase security.
This random private ID detects proximity events, so if ID number 1 is identified as being infected, the system can automatically notify and alert ID number 2, 3 and others who were in close proximity and might now be at risk, and risking exposure to others.
On the clinic portal, doctors, nurses or clinic professionals have the ability to insert the person’s private ID and manage its status of ‘infected’, ‘waiting for results’, ‘under treatment’ or ‘cured’.
“It is important to emphasise that no one will ever see the users’ private information,” said Carlos Lei, co-founder and CEO of HypeLabs in a statement. “Only the unique device ID is visible to government authorities. CovidApp can help cities and countries turn their economies back on as soon as possible.”
“The moment CovidApp is launched in a city, or the moment an app integrates the SDK, devices will immediately start connecting directly to each other forming the patented private mesh networks”
A system where the unique ID can be matched with a phone number can be used, and the CovidApp system is able to support it. However, HypeLabs recommends not to, as it can potentially compromise the anonymity of the infected user.
The developer added that for such a system to be “heavily accurate and precise”, as many citizens as possible must participate and stressed that a recognised authority or a local government should be in charge of it and promote it to citizens, as well as managing all the news, health information and alerts sent to the user.
“HypeLabs developed this system with pure humanitarian goals, as we’ve seen that the technology we’ve built, tested and deployed throughout the years can have a major positive impact on the current pandemic,” said the spokesperson.
With this in mind, the app and portal are distributed for free and in a white-label version that can be customised by governments and authorities, along with a list of steps they should take in order to implement the system and take full advantage of it.
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