One of the main measures to curb the spread of coronavirus is tracking, it allows authorities to control the location of infected people and stop their contacts with other people. Contact tracing has already proven effective in many countries around the world, but activists believe this violates privacy.
Researchers at MIT have developed a new method for automatically tracking people who have been in the vicinity of infection for the past two weeks. The system uses short-range Bluetooth signals that smartphones transmit. These signals are random strings of numbers that other nearby smartphones store in device memory.
If the patient finds out that he is infected, then he must download the full list of numbers that his phone transmitted over the past two weeks. Other users can check whether the numbers indicated in the infected database are in the memory of their phones. If they match, then the user must pass the coronavirus test and self-isolate, as it was within 12 m from the source of the virus.
The system solves the problem of privacy – does not use geolocation, and also does not connect the diagnosis or other information with a specific person. It will work through an application that users install on their phones; its design was inspired by Apple’s Find My Phone system.
The MIT team says that the most important next step in getting this system to work is with help from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. They added that for the system to work effectively, cooperation with mobile device operators is necessary.