The Icelandic government was the first to announce negative results from using mobile apps to track the population and help detect the spread of cases of the new coronavirus in the country. Local officials have not been thrilled with the performance of the platform so far, which is called the Rakning C-19, and say that it only works effectively if used in conjunction with other techniques.
According to the MIT Technology Review, Iceland is one of the success stories in implementing mobile apps that track cases – 38% of the population downloaded the local platform, which tracks the user from GPS. If the citizen is diagnosed with covid-19, these data are investigated and compared with that of other people to detect possible transmissions between people.
As the country has a relatively small population (364 thousand inhabitants) and the government was very objective in explaining the service, the adoption was high. The explanation of data usage was also efficient: information is stored for only two weeks and has limited uses. Another positive point about the disease in the country and which may interfere with the results of the application is that the infection curve has passed the flattening phase – the last death by covid-19 in Iceland was recorded in mid-April. In other words, the result in countries still at the peak of the disease may be quite different.
However, according to a country police inspector, the implementation did not bring the expected results – and only works correctly if manual techniques and using human servers are applied, such as phone calls to talk to any infected people and obtain information that should only be provided through the app.
“The technology is more or less … I would not say useless. But it is the integration between the two that gives the results. I would say that it has proved useful in some cases, but it was not a revolution for us”, he says.
Giants in the area
In addition to initiatives of some countries, Google and Apple are developing a kind of “tracker” that works from Bluetooth and helps to establish points of contact between people. Germany is one of the places that confirmed the use of the platform to study the spread of the new coronavirus in the country. However, concerns about the lack of privacy resulting from the use of these services have generated some criticism of the initiative.