There’s a mobile app that records where you’ve been, who you’ve been, and who you’ve been to, and can share this kind of information with others in a safe way, as well as having the PR health department track viral hotspots. Sounds like a good application to effectively stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Now, researchers from MIT’s Media Lab have developed such an application.
This free open source application is called Private Toolkit: Secure Path. In addition to MIT, the program was developed in free time by software engineers at Harvard University and Facebook and Uber.
It is critical to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, identify and isolate infected individuals, and identify where they have been. But does sharing a location with others reveal your personal information and privacy?
According to Ramesh Raskar, who led the team’s development, the dedicated toolkit solves privacy issues by sharing encrypted location data across the network over the network without a central authority. Users can check if they may have had contact with people carrying the virus, but do not know their personal information. Infected users can choose to use the program to share locations with the health department and disclose their trajectory of action.
According to Ramesh Raskar, fine-grained tracking can be used to shut down and disinfect only specific occasions than a full shutdown and blockade, which causes less social and economic harm.
So will this program really work? The premise is that enough people use it and are willing to share their own path. In South Korea, the method of accurately locating coronavirus hotspots using mobile phones appears to have proved to be effective. South Korea’s hot spot testing station is located outside the building where the infected person has been, which can be an effective reminder to others.
However, this approach is not foolproof, because the program can not provide complete information, incomplete information may bring false sense of security. When the app tells you that a place is safe, but in fact it’s infected, but no user has reported it. And the app only reminds you where the infected person has been, not where the infected person will go.