«The app is anonymous and does not record users’ phone numbers, it can save the data it collects only on phones or even on servers; can include more or less sections, such as that for the self-certification necessary for getting around. We have made available a sort of menu of technical characteristics: however, the government will choose which ones to adopt ». Luca Foresti he is the managing director of the Santagostino medical center (network of advanced clinics in the use of telemedicine), which together with Bending Spoons, a leading app manufacturer, to the digital marketing company Jakala, to that of location GeoUniq and the expert privacy lawyer Giuseppe Vaciago created “Immune”, the Italian application to track positive people in Covid-19, which will have to help contain the epidemic. It was chosen after participating in a public tender and yesterday Bending Spoons signed the contract with which it grants the code (i.e. the app software) free of charge to the State.
How does the app work?
«Once downloaded to your cell phone, it lets you know if in the previous weeks you have come into contact with a positive person at Covid-19 and therefore if you are at risk of contagion. It also has a clinical diary that monitors any symptoms for early detection of infections. Users can communicate anonymously if they have a cough, cold, loss of smell and the like. The data thus collected allow us to predict if there are areas in which the infection is spreading and to make targeted tests on the communities that are more likely to be infected. They can also be updated to detect if there is a worsening of the health conditions of each individual. ”
What kind of data does it collect: also the position of users?
«This will have to be decided by the government. The app is designed to use two tools: one is the low energy bluetooth, which detects people nearby (if they have downloaded the app themselves). It is the fundamental component. Then there is also the GPS, which instead allows you to georeference the phone, that is, to see its movements in space: the government must decide whether to use this too. Both tools collect data anonymously. “
And where do these data end up?
“This too must be decided by the government. They can be kept only on the phone or on servers that will indicate the institutions ».
Who can see them?
«Again: it is a decision that belongs to politics. The data can be sent to doctors, helped by a professional call center that helps to carry out contact tracing as in South Korea, that is, you call people who have to quarantine, or take the Covid-19 test. Or to the mayors, who are responsible for health in the area. Or to the Regions, which control the health funds necessary to respond to any critical situations. Up to the central institutions: the task force for the restart led by Vittorio Colao, the Higher Institute of Health, the Ministry of Health or Civil Protection. There are many possible subjects, but it is not for us to choose them ».
How can they be used?
“The goal must be to keep the transmission rate of the virus low. The app is an important element but alone is not enough. Two more are needed: extensive tests (both swabs and antibodies) and territorial health management, general practitioners and other health workers who take care of people without hospitalizing them. Hospitals and intensive care must be the last resort: everything must be done so that the sick never need to go there. “
Do all apps need to download for the app to work?
«The more people use it, the more effective it is. It should also be considered that 20% of Italians – mostly elderly – do not have a smartphone, but old generation cell phones, and therefore cannot download it, and that there are some people without a cell phone. Not even children have it. ‘
When will it be available? Will there be operational tests in specific areas?
“Technically it is ready, the government will decide on the times and any tests.”
Many people fear that such an app would endanger the privacy or abuse of their data.
«Today we continually decide to give our data to private companies that give us services and send us advertisements: Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft use them to create value for themselves. Here we are in the midst of an epidemic that is killing 500-600 people a day and threatening everyone’s health. Anyone can assess the risk to privacy compared to that to health, considering that the app does not ask for name, surname or telephone number and has a technology designed with data protection experts to avoid abuse »
April 17, 2020 (change April 17, 2020 | 20:32)
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