Is BLE in your Smartphones the Answer for Corona Virus Tracking?
I have been working on Bluetooth technology for the past decade.So when i heard about the coronavirus being spread due to close proximity of people i thought Bluetooth in your phones can be used to trace the people in close proximity but it will certainly require the government to enforce it o upon the citizens because frankly it will be a huge concern of privacy for the users as it will have to log all of their activity via GPS and Bluetooth.I will come to this part later in the post.
Just a couple of days to this thought and i started hearing about these initiatives taken by the governments all around the world.Singapore making an App called TraceTogether. India making a COVID-19 tracking App .
China has launched this kind of app that lets users scan QR codes to determine if they were in close contact with the Corona patient. Israel has also released a similar app to reduce the spread of the pandemic. And Singapore recently launched its version of this similar app, which is open source and available for anyone.
So how this works anyway?
Modern day smartphones are equipped with a lot latest tech that makes them useful.One of them is Bluetooth
A beacon is a Bluetooth radio transmitter which transmits a signal that other devices can detect. A Bluetooth equipped device can, in turn, be able to locate the beacon and recognize the signal once it’s in the range. The beacon consists of Bluetooth low energy (BLE), which is power efficient, so, a small lithium battery can run for a long time. Beacons transmit their unique ID and sent them to the listening device like a smartphone that can identify the beacon.
As a device can communicate to a beacon their relative distance can be calculated which can be used for tracking and location finding. In addition to beacons, GPS location can also add accuracy and find the exact path which the user has been through.
As the Coronavirus spread from close contact i.e. handshake or breathing in the same air, the tracking of Corona patients is key to restrict the further spread of disease. With this precise location tracking a Corona patient and in the past where he has been through. In this way, those people who were in close contact with the patient can also be infected. Using this tracking procedure these persons can be warned that they have been in close contact with corona patients and placed in quarantine.
How Corona Tracking Works
The Corona Tracking can easily be implemented by using an app that uses location data and Bluetooth of the mobile phone. The app will update the location data and using Bluetooth person whom it has been in close contact, this report is uploaded on the database containing individuals’ travel history on health ministry.
Using Bluetooth, the app can check if you’ve been within six feet of an infected person whose data can be updated on the database. Then the persons who have been near to this infected person can be notified to take precautions measures.
If a person has met someone who is corona infected but not tested at that time and after some days, he got tested positive. In this case, all the people, who have been close to the patient in the last 15 days will be notified to get tested and reduce the further spread of this disease.
This tracking methodology can be a very helpful and efficient way to control the Corona Virus, especially in public transport like trains and buses where there is a higher chance of the spread of the virus. This tracking can be an efficient way to control the virus, along with the beacon technology which is already in use and beacons are present in some shopping malls and train stations.
What is the Accuracy for the Proximity detection of the
Can this work in Pakistan?
So the Answer is yes but with a twist because unlike developed countries smartphone ownership is low in Pakistan.It is roughly between 43% to 50% according to this report.
Pakistans estimated population is 220 millions out of which 161 millions are mobile phone owners.So lets crunch some numbers .
that’s 73% of the population owning some sort of mobile phones.
Out of these 161 millions only 43 percent own smartphones which brings us down to roughly 69 millions.
This 69 million is about 31% of the total population of Pakistan.
So you will be ignoring nearly 70% of the population right from the start.
So using smartphones to track coronavirus COVID-19 may not look good in this case but i think that the ratio of smartphone owners in urban areas a relatively much higher.Where the tracking will be most beneficial.