When global tech giants Google and Apple are struggling to develop and launch an app which can locate Covid-19 infected patients using GPS system, Bangladesh ICT Minister in charge claims he did it.

Although he could not develop such an app, he did tremendous work by assembling tech startups, Bangladeshi IT exerts residing abroad and local telco companies to collect all related information and data about Covid-19 and process it for policy makers and health officials.

He has launched a dedicated webpage – corona.gov.bd – where the ministry linked up several call centres by which his team is now receiving over 100,000 phone calls every day.

“We received thousands of phone calls a day at our call centres by which we could locate Corona infected patients, spot hot spots and forecast about the risky spots,” Minister of State for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak told Business Mirror Monday.

“After receiving all those information and data we process it and classified for government high-ups, related health officials and general public,” Palak added saying that these data analysis helps them about their need assessment and preparation to combat the pandemic.

The minister himself launched the drive very early on March 08, had a meeting with experts and expressed his worry over cyber security, government KPIs which monitored by ICT system.

“We realized the depth of danger as because we had example of China, South Korea, Euroe and USA before us. For which we send summary to the honourable Prime Minister about the worry of cyber security and application of ICT to combat the pandemic,” the state minister said

What Google and Aple are doing?

On Friday, Mar 16, 2020 Apple and Google announced a system for tracking the spread of the new coronavirus, allowing users to share data through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions and approved apps from health organizations.

Apple and Google will introduce a pair of iOS and Android APIs in mid-May and make sure these health authorities’ apps can implement them.

What India is Doing?

A high-powered committee comprising government officials and tech leaders, set up by the Prime Minister’s Office, is working on solutions to deal with the coronavirus crisis, including the next version of Aarogya Setu app.

The committee with PMO Principal Scientific Adviser Professor Vijay Raghavan. The members include IT Secretary Ajay Sawhney, Trai Chairperson RS Sharma, telecom secretary Anshu Prakash, Tata Group chairperson N Chandrasekaran, Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra, Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani, Professor V Kamakoti of IIT Chennai and Google Maps founder Lalitesh Katragadda.

The committee meets regularly and is progressing aggressively, and the PMO is actively involved.

“The goal of the committee is to make this app cover all aspects like 100 percent reach, ability to trace and restrict movement of patients and those quarantined using artificial intelligence and GPS technologies, reduce burden on the healthcare system by providing remote health care support,”

Who Launched the Idea?

“IT IS POSSIBLE TO STOP THE EPIDEMIC.” That’s the message splashed atop a website built by a University of Oxford team last week of March to share new research on the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Fraser, with Oxford clinician David Bonsall and colleagues, designed a mathematical simulation of how “instantaneous digital contact tracing” would influence the spread of the virus. To stop the epidemic, health officials must reduce the virus’ reproductive number—the average number of people each infected person transmits the virus to—to less than one. When the team modeled a scenario in which contacts were notified the instant a person tested positive, it was possible to push the reproductive rate of the virus below that threshold, the team reported in a preprint this week.

Privacy Questioned?

Several governments in Asia have tried that approach in ways that would run afoul of privacy laws in many other countries. China, for example, has reportedly relied on mass surveillance of phones to classify individuals by their health status and restrict their movements. Now, research teams in Europe and the United States are considering less invasive ways to collect and share data about infections, and some are already developing and testing coronavirus-specific phone apps. Governments, meanwhile, are scrambling to figure out how these potential pandemic-fighting tools could work within data privacy laws and without losing the support of an already wary public.

The next generation of coronavirus trackers

Several emerging projects aim to set up voluntary, privacy-conscious phone tracking systems. This week, a team led by computer scientist Ramesh Raskar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a prototype of an app called Private Kit: Safe Paths. The app stores up to 28 days of a user’s GPS location data, logged every 5 minutes. If the user tests positive for coronavirus, they can choose to share their recent data with health officials to identify and publicize the places where others may have been at risk of infection.

Another app in development in Germany relies partly on location data that Google already stores for its account holders. A person who tests positive could use the app—called GeoHealth—to “donate” their location history. That data would then be anonymized and stored on a central server, says Gernot Beutel, a stem cell transplant physician at Hannover Medical School who is co-developing the technology.

Who is Pioneering Country?

Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, to use cellphone location data to help combat the coronavirus. According to a New York Times report, the data will be used to retrace the movements of individuals who test positive for the virus, and identify others who should be quarantined.


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