Battling the Pandemic with a Brigade of Software Solutions
A global race is on to develop smartphone apps and other types of mobile phone surveillance systems to track and contain the spread of COVID-19.
It is a well-known fact that one of the main challenges in controlling the COVID-19 infection is actual awareness of infection. Due to delayed onset systems or being asymptomatic, there is a high potential that an infected person could go weeks being contagious and interacting in society without ever knowing they are carrying the virus.
At the heart of technology development, supporting COVID-19 mitigation is the concept of contact tracing. Contact tracings seek to identify those that have been infected by COVID-19 unknowingly and track all people that the particular individual may potentially have come in contact with. The goal of contact tracing is to drive awareness and encourage proactive measures such as testing and quarantine to reduce the further spread of the disease. Two of today’s leading smartphone software manufacturers, Google and Apple, are collaborating on apps that can identify people who have crossed paths with a detected infected person and alert those who said people to the potential exposure with the intention that said person takes steps to minimize further spread.
So how can a smartphone actually track potential exposure? Currently, today smartphones and some less-sophisticated mobile phones track a user’s location via cell-tower signals, Wi-Fi signals, and a satellite-based global positioning system, known as GPS. Smartphones also currently use Bluetooth technology to connect nearby devices for the benefit of “wireless” integration. Location tracking combined with Bluetooth naturally enables spatial relation technology. The spatial relation of users when considering the distance of contagion for COVID-19 naturally allows the opportunity to identify a potential spread of infection.
So how would a smartphone know if a user has contracted COVID-19? That, of course, is a little more manual and at the discretion of the user. Smartphones could be used as a method for health surveying to which a user would enter current and historical health history, such as a positive COVID-19 test. Health monitoring could also be executed through existing or more advanced apps and technology such as smartwatches and other wearables designed to monitor systems related to COVID-19. With the combination of health data, symptom monitoring, and location data, COVID-19 contact tracing is fathomable and a potential future smartphone application.
Beyond a smartphone application, there is a multitude of software applications and software systems in design to serve the fight against COVID-19.
Some famous examples of software technology in development or developed in response to the current pandemic are:
1. Apple COVID-19:
Apple released on March 27, 2020, a new screening tool and set of resources to help people stay informed and take the proper steps based on the latest CDC guidance to protect their health during the spread of COVID-19. This screening tool and the additional resources were created in partnership with the CDC,1 the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and FEMA to make it easy for people across the country to get trusted information and guidance. The new COVID-19 website and COVID-19 app are available on the App Store today.
A new mobile application called TraceTogether was launched on Friday, March 20, 2020, to support ongoing contact tracing efforts amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore. By downloading the app and consenting to participate, TraceTogether allows users to “proactively help” in the contact tracing process.
3. COVID Symptom Tracker:
Developed via a collaboration between King’s College London, Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and health data science company ZOE, the COVID Symptom Tracker app asks users to fill in a range of data fields including age, sex, postcode, pre-existing medical conditions and current use of immunosuppressants in attempt to identify and alert potential users of susceptibility or current COVID-19 systems.
4. Close Contact Detector:
China recently launched an app that allows people to check whether they have been potentially exposed to COVID-19. The ‘close contact detector’ tells users if they have been near a person who has been confirmed or suspected of having the virus.
5. Private Kit: Safe Paths:
This app stores up to 28 days of a user’s GPS location data that is pulled and logged every 5 minutes from their smartphone. If a user of the app tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to share their app tracked user data with other users of the application and health officials to identify and publicize the places where they have traveled so others may be alerted as to potential exposure.
CoronApp was developed and released to connect large and smallscale PPE suppliers to the healthcare community. CoronApp is a mobile app development by the Colombian government and available for Android and iOS users through the Huawei AppGallery.
North Macedonia launched “StopKorona!” on April 13, 2020, making them the first country in the Western Balkans to launch a Covid-19 tracing app. The Bluetooth-based app traces potential exposure from person to person and alerts healthcare authorities for immediate response.
Smittestopp is an app recently launched to support health authorities in the development of control measures and guidance for transmission prevention. The app tracks user movement and sends the corresponding data as anonymous data to the select health authorities for analysis.
9. COVID-19 Sounds App:
Cambridge University recently launched this month the Covid-19 Sounds project. Through this project, members of the community who have tested positive for COVID-19 are invited to share information regarding their age, gender, and approximate location. These participants are also asked to breathe and cough into a computer’s microphone to identify what the sound of COVID-19 symptoms may sound like. Sharing such sounds is a means for communicating ways to identify and take proactive steps for testing for COVID-19.
10. COVID Voice Detector:
Carnegie Mellon University is currently collaborating with researchers around the world to develop an automated AI system that can detect signatures of Covid-19 infection in the human voice. Several sample voices will be required –including voices of those that have contracted COVID-19, non- COVID-19 infected individuals, and people affected by other ailments. While this can be a longer-term project in delivering a COVID-19 detection solution, the hypothesis is the human voice can eventually be a proactive testing mechanism as an alternative for waiting for late-onset broader physical symptoms.
11. Chiron Health:
Chiron is a popular telemedicine software that connects a doctor to the patient for immediate evaluation and consulting. Effort in appointment scheduling, travel to the doctor’s office, lengthy wait times and hefty medical bills is mitigated with the launch of Chiron Health software. The goal of this software is to remove the barriers that prevent potential COVID-19 infected from not seeking testing and medical intervention.
12. AdvancedMD Rhythm:
Built on a cloud platform, AdvancedMD Rhythm is an affordable telemedicine software that provides customers access to a network of medical professionals and information to aid in the mitigation of potential COVID-19 symptoms.
13. eHospital Systems:
eHospital Systems is a comprehensive, integrated, customizable, and accessible Hospital Management System that helps healthcare facilities, medical practitioners, and multi-specialty clinics to manage hospital operations. This on-premise and on-cloud hosted system delivers a complete suite of tools for collaboration and communication across the user organization to further ensure quality patient care.
AlertMedia is a popular emergency notification system that provides immediate and reliable delivery of notifications throughout an organization. Organizations implement the AlertMedia system as a means to mass communication during critical events.
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June 1, 2020, by Ahmed Sabry