How the app for tracking Covid-19 contagions works

The Government is thinking about an app to counteract the spread of Covid-19: here's how it should work and the problems for privacy

Civil Protection data of the last days report an increase in Covid-19 contagions and the peak doesn't seem to have been reached yet. The regions of the North are now at the end of their rope and the Government is thinking of changing its strategy and adopting the same policy as in South Korea: increasing the number of swabs and using an application to track positives and reconstruct movements, so that possible positives can be quarantined.

An operation that raises many doubts, especially from the point of view of respect and protection of privacy, but in exceptional cases there may be an exception. For the moment, the government has not yet taken any decision, but at the Ministry for technological innovation and digitalization have already arrived several proposals for applications, including that of Luca Foresti, CEO of the network of specialist clinics Centro medico Santagostino, who is working with some Italian companies specialized in marketing and software development to create an app on the South Korean model. Application that would be ready for use.

How the app for tracking contagions works

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Luca Foresti explained how the app works. For the development he formed a non-profit organization under the technical and scientific direction of the president of the Accademia dei Lincei and Diego Piacentini, former commissioner of AgID. The realization of the app has been entrusted to Bending Spoons, an Italian company specialized in the development of applications for Android and iOS, Jakala, a digital marketing company and Geouniq, a company that has developed a program for geolocation.

The application has a very specific purpose: to limit the spread of contagions. At this moment, it is necessary to limit the contagion as much as possible, so as not to flood the hospitals that would otherwise suffer. The functioning of the app is quite simple: you download it on your smartphone and once you have identified the positive persons, you reconstruct all the movements, so as to understand who you have come into contact with. Quarantining preventively helps to decrease the spread of Covid-19.

Tracking app: privacy issue

The possibility of launching the app has been talked about for several days now, but there are many doubts and concerns about privacy. Who would have access to the data? Who would own it? Is the data anonymous or is it possible to trace the person? Questions that need to be answered, and the pool of experts who are working on the app already have some answers.

The only one who would have access to the data would be the Civil Defence, so as to be able to act promptly and have the situation of the infected under control throughout Italy. As for the privacy of people, the application does not have access to sensitive data such as name, surname or phone number.

On the issue, however, has also intervened Antonello Soro, President of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, who gave an interview to Tiscali News on the subject. Antonello Soro's concept is very simple: Italian law is very different from Chinese and Korean law and before launching an application that allows a remote control of users' movements it is necessary to take all the necessary precautions.