This involves using an app and data from people’s smartphones to figure out who has been in contact with whom — even if it’s just a casual passing in the street — and alerting everyone who has been exposed to an infected individual.
Centralization offers richer data, which could help public health officials better understand the disease and its spread and allow government officials to more effectively plan, execute, and enforce quarantines and other measures designed to protect the public.
India’s government mandated that all workers use its Aarogya Setu app (which uses Bluetooth and GPS for contact tracing), ostensibly to maintain social distancing measures as the nation lifts restrictions and sends people back to work.
The U.K.’s NHS contact tracing app is rolling out for testing and will be used along with traditional manual contact tracing methods, but the app’s centralized approach has privacy advocates concerned.
As an opt-in choice for medical purposes, a wearable device and app could allow patients to maintain a lifeline to their care providers while also contributing data that helps medical professionals better understand the disease and its effects.