The Danish Government has collaborated with IT service provider Netcompany to create digital solutions to ease the national lockdown restrictions. The Danish tech company and the National Board of Digitisation have developed ‘COVIDmeter’, which allows users to input and monitor coronavirus symptoms, and the ‘Mobile Proximity App’, which tracks the spread of the virus.
WHY IT MATTERS
COVIDmeter (already available for use) is intended to provide Danish health authorities with information on the continued spread and status of the coronavirus as restrictive measures on society are relaxed.
The platform is linked to the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), the branch of the Danish Ministry for Health in charge of infectious diseases. Citizens volunteer to answer a weekly questionnaire about their health, including whether they have been tested for the virus or, to their knowledge, have been in contact with it. Login is secured with similar protections to online banking and any identifying information is available to the SSI only in pseudo-anonymised form, preventing possible misuse.
The Mobile Proximity App utilises Bluetooth technology to detect protracted contact with other app-users within a two metre radius, alerting users to the extent of their social contact. The health authorities hope this will help them trace the movement of the virus, monitor social distancing and promote good behaviour.
The app adheres fully to GDPR standards and will be rolled-out nationally over the next two weeks.
THE LARGER PICTURE
Other countries have also integrated similar technologies into various stages of their efforts against coronavirus. China utilised contact-tracing to help track the virus as they eased their lockdown restrictions. Singapore launched the TraceTogether app hoping to track the virus without necessitating a lockdown but were later forced to implement one. Taiwan, on the other hand, relied heavily on the availability and analysis of big data and succeeded in avoiding lockdown measures.
Google and Apple recently announced they were collaborating on a Bluetooth-enabled contact tracing service.
As these technologies are normalised as potential virus surveillance measures, there have been some questions around the ethics of big data collection and contact tracing, particularly in regards to who has access to the data and to what extent.
ON THE RECORD
André Rogaczewski, CEO of Netcompany, said: “Whilst projection models can estimate the spread of the disease, the accuracy of these models can only be understood and validated at the point of impact. Real-time data is crucial for government to understand citizen contacts and potential infections, in order take informed decisions to manage society restrictions.”
He continued: “In the coming weeks, these digital solutions will strengthen the database for the Danish health authorities' ongoing epidemiological surveillance of the spread of infection and thus support decisions on the gradual opening of society. We are proud to be supporting the national effort to safely reopen Denmark and would like to offer the platform to other nations planning life after lockdown.”