Buying Insurance for Public Health?

Image: T-Systems

Why invest in a COVID-19 “exposure notification” app?

We buy insurance for our home, cars and for protection. In the event something does happen. How does public health officials reduce the chances of infection against this virus? So while there is no official date for an ‘effective’ vaccine. Does technology play a role in US public health at the state level?

The current pathogen will be with us for quite sometime. This ‘corona’ virus is not a herpes or influenza disease. It may behave more like the common cold. What makes the common cold so ‘common?’ We can get it over and over again.

Public Health and the common cold
Image: Unsplash

I will explain how this app can reduce the risk of ‘infection.’ Show how it works side by side with manual contact tracing programs. How this technology can address the misconceptions around ‘privacy.’ I will share examples on the use of the app from other countries.

Introducing the exposure notification app from T-Systems and SAP

The “Corona Warn” app created by SAP, T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom) and the German government. Released in Germany back in June, the app helps to slow the rate of infection from the COVID-19 virus.

The “Corona Warn” app turns your smartphone into your own personal warning system. The app takes advantage of the bluetooth identification numbers (IDs) found on the Apple iPhone and Google Android devices. We know that the infection can spread if you come near others for long period of time. So when you turn on the app, and you come in contact with another person (for instance within 6 feet and for 15 minutes). Your phone collects an encrypted random bluetooth ID number from the other person. Your smartphone stores these random numbers for 14 days. This ensures personal privacy for Public Health.

Here is how Public Health would use the app
Image: T-Systems

The key features of this app design:

  • High degree of PRIVACY with no personal data, no GPS information or access to the data on your phone.
  • The fact that the European Union (EU) endorses the app, they have a much higher degree over the privacy of user data. This is a great proof point for this solution.
  • You control if you want to use the app to work via the settings on your Android or iPhone smartphone.

This app is available for the US market.

If you curious to learn more about the app you can visit this web link for more information.

How other countries are using this app

Is a successful contact tracing app possible?” I would recommend this recent MIT article. They explain that these countries think a contact tracing app would work. I came away with the following key points:

Public Health and this app
Image: MIT

The app did not work in Norway and the UK so they dropped the use of the app

  • The app in Ireland has a high adoption rate of 37%. Germany has has 20% of their citizens using the app.
  • The app compliments manual contact tracing, testing, social distancing and masks
  • The source code for the app is ‘open source’ and provides full transparency for how this solution works. This approach builds public trust for the use of this technology.
  • Building a contact tracing app is hard. Which is why Germany is advising the rest of the world on how it went about building this tool.

Call to action

At least four US states have launched a warning app to detect exposure to the coronavirus. They include Wyoming, North Dakota, Alabama, and Virginia. We’ve learned this virus is infectious. The virus is already changing, and it will be with us for the foreseeable future.

Image: Unsplash

In order to help Public Health officials maximize the use of this app. I can offer the following recommendations:

  1. Being a laggard may be a good thing. As many states can learn from what others have done to make their own app. Your citizens already have the APIs from Apple and Google. So you are on your way for having your own app. Resources are available for your review.
  2. Investing in an app is part of your strategy in fighting this virus, and future versions of this virus. Building the app is hard work. So look for vendors that not only have the app. They should also have the supporting infrastructure for managing data. (I work for T-Systems, and in Germany we have the app, currently supporting 17 million users, and growing. Germany is a great use case.)
  3. Develop Public trust in the use of this app. Educate your citizens by creating a public awareness campaign. Using both the traditional methods of contact tracing plus your app. So that when the next virus appears you will be better prepared at the state level.

We can help leverage lessons learned from other countries. This app provides added ‘insurance’ in safeguarding the health of your citizens.

If you found this post useful – please forward this along to others. If you have any questions or would like to arrange for a brief call you can reach me via the following:

email: james.sabogal@t-systems
linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jimsabogal
cell number: +1 215 500-5738 – please do leave a voicemail message

Thank you,

Jim

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