China and South Korea have been using similar apps since February and March, respectively
NEW DELHI: Asian countries, including China, India and South Korea, have managed to control the spread of covid-19 with the help of digital contact tracing apps to track movement of people and identify those who may have come in touch with infected people, said a report by UK-based data analytics company Global Data.
India launched the Aarogya Setu app on 2 April. China and South Korea have been using similar apps since February and March, respectively. Downloaded by over 50 million users, the Aarogya Setu app uses a phone’s location data and Bluetooth technology to identify people who have come in contact with a patient under quarantine. Compared to manual identification, contact tracing apps are less prone to errors and take less time too.
“With the pandemic worsening every day, digital contact tracing technology can help various governments to access the in-depth movement of data of their citizens using smartphones and swiftly identify at-risk cases. The technology is already helping countries such as China, South Korea and India in containing the spread of covid-19," Venkata Naveen, disruptive tech analyst at GlobalData, said in a press statement.
In China, the National Health Commission launched a similar app named Close Contact Detector. Accessible by scanning a QR code through platforms such as QQ, Alipay and WeChat, the app worked on the same principle and allowed people to identify whether they are at the risk of being infected. Similarly, Corona 100m in South Korea, alerted individuals by sending them notifications if they came within a range of 100 metres of a covid-19 patient.
European countries, including the UK, plan to deploy similar contact tracing apps. As part of its efforts to lift the lockdown, Italy is already testing an app to track people who have tested positive for covid-19. Apple and Google have joined hands for an optional contact-tracing tool on their phones. It will use Bluetooth technology and log phones that have been in proximity to a user. If the owner of any of the phones is later detected positive for covid-19, all in contact previously will be alerted.
Though contract tracing apps are being lauded, many have expressed doubts about their reliability and feel it should be backed by human moderators. Many also feel until more people use it these apps are useless. However, a University of Oxford study shows that even if the uptake of such apps is limited, they will still slow the spread of the disease.