In an interview with Dhaka Tribune's Ibrahim Hossain Ovi, the founder and managing director of Shohoz.com, Maliha M Quadir, talks about the tech company’s newly-developed 'Corona Tracer BD'— a contact tracing app which can help prevent the spread of coronavirus
How does the Corona Tracer BD app work?
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division, in collaboration with Shohoz.com, has already launched the beta version of the app for contact tracing to help citizens prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Bangladesh.
Like many other apps being rolled out across the globe, Corona Tracer BD uses a smartphone’s Bluetooth signals and GPS location services to record when people come in close contact with one another, so that they can be quickly alerted if a person has tested positive for Covid-19.
First, the user has to download the Corona Tracer BD app from Google Play and register with their phone number; they have to keep Bluetooth and location services enabled on their phone.
If an individual comes in contact with a coronavirus infected person for a certain period or for around 15 minutes, during the infection period of 4-14 days, their information will be collected by this app and will be stored at a central database supervised by the health authorities.
Later, the app will show a yellow sign, meaning high risk, and alert the user.
In addition, by using the stored information, the app will help health authorities to efficiently circulate necessary health advisories among people at risk.
On the other hand, the app will show a green sign if an individual comes in contact with a person who is not Covid-19 positive, provided their phone’s Bluetooth and location services are enabled. This alert means there is no risk of Covid-19 transmission.
What about users’ privacy?
The users of the app will not mention whether they are Covid-19 positive or not.
Moreover, it will not be disclosed from whom or where an individual might be at high risk of transmission.
How will this app help reduce the spread of coronavirus?
Testing, tracing, and isolation are very important in curbing the spread of coronavirus.
When an individual is alerted that they are at high risk of transmission, they can self-isolate and take other preventive measures.
Consequently, the risk of the virus spreading from individuals becomes lower, which will save the patient as well as the people around them.
How is the response on the beta version of the app?
People took it very positively, and the app, which has already been downloaded by over 100,000 people, is available on Google’s app store for everyone to download.
The app is currently only available on android devices, and an iOS version will be developed very soon.
How was it possible for a start-up company to develop such an app?
It is a fine example of Public Private Partnership (PPP). We have a team of highly qualified engineers who worked relentlessly to develop the app.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), Access to Information (a2i), Skill Development for Mobile Game and Application of the ICT Division, and private sector stakeholder Shohoz collaborated to develop the app under the initiative of the ICT Division.
Shohoz provided technical support in app development.