Governments Harness Mobile Phone Data To Track Coronavirus Outbreak

Govts Harness Phone Data To Track Coronavirus

Governments are utilizing technology to track mobile data to help manage the coronavirus. Here are the latest updates on the outbreak from around the world.

Hong Kong is utilizing electronic wristbands that link up with a smartphone app to ensure that people follow quarantines at home and decrease COVID-19’s spread, CNBC reported. The government is mandating that all arriving travelers follow a quarantine of two weeks along with medical watch. Per the report, there are over 60,000 wristbands available for use in the country.

Meanwhile, the government of Israel has given the green light for security agencies to monitor the mobile phone data of those who are believed to have COVID-19, the BBC reported. According to the outlet, it is “understood” that location information gathered from telecom firms by the domestic security agency will be provided to health officials. The health ministry can then see whether an individual is following quarantine rules.

In other news, government bodies are implementing or mulling an array of monitoring and surveillance technology that stretches privacy limits, The Wall Street Journal reported. Palantir Inc., a data-mining company, is at work on modeling the virus proliferation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Telecom firms in China have aided the government in monitoring and reaching out to individuals who were in the province of Hubei in the virus’ early days. Officials from government and technology are grappling to balance the safeguarding of patient data with the implementation of technology.

And Italian and Austrian officials are beginning to utilize mobile phone data to assess COVID-19 lockdown effectiveness, per Bloomberg. Vodafone Group Plc, for example, said in a statement that it is providing customer information to officials in Italy to help them monitor and population movements in Lombardy.

Telekom Austria AG, for its part, is offering relevant authorities with “anonymized data,” per a statement cited by the outlet.

These nations are among the most recent countries to harness mobile phones to help manage the coronavirus outbreak.