Countries like Singapore and Israel are tapping the help of technology in trying to solve the COVID-19 pandemic. Singapore has an app that the Ministry of Health can gain access to trace the movements and activities of the COVID-19 infected person in the past 14 days. Israel has an app that sends a notification through the user's smartphone if he comes across a COVID-19 infected person.
With the staggering number of infected cases and deaths in the US, the Trump administration recently considers the possibility of using the smartphone location data to monitor and fight the spread of COVID-19. A couple of US tech companies are showing ways of how this technology would possibly work. Tectonix and X-Mode are businesses concentrating on high-profile cases and are currently monitoring location data from smartphones of those who went to Fort Lauderdale, Florida beach last month.
This includes the spring breakers who made headlines recently when they deliberately ignored warnings of authorities about social distancing in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak in the US. The map shared on the social networking site Twitter revealed where these people go following their visit to the beach. It appeared that they spread across the US and went to major cities like Chicago and New York, potentially carrying the COVID-19 virus with them.
According to X-Mode, it offers location tracking services to app makers, particularly in transit and weather apps. Spring breakers with those apps on their smartphones could be easily tracked. The tech company also discloses that it anonymizes the data it gathers through apps and forwards it to advertisers and other companies.
X-Mode's map used the data provided by Tectronix. The map is very useful and highlights why the US government should consider utilizing location data from the smartphones of Americans to slow down and prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Aside from these companies, Cuebig also flaunts its location tracking prowess. These businesses, before the COVID-19 pandemic, were unheard of by the majority of Americans.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic is allowing these small businesses to step up and demonstrate how their respective technology could help curb the spread of the virus. The only concern of the government is using this kind of technology is the user's privacy. Last month, CNN reported that Google and Facebook confirmed that they are considering ways to utilize anonymized and aggregated data to help the US government in its effort against the COVID-19.
At the time of this publication, there are over 1.2M people infected with COVID-19 all over the world. Among this number, 339,623 are already closed cases, while 942,417 are still active cases.