The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) said it has developed an upgraded system to trace Covid-19 patients' movements without any risk of breaching individual privacy.
The national research university worked on the upgraded Prevention System for Pandemic Disease Infection (PreSPI) based on a smartphone’s black box that can help individuals get the Covid-19 test, trace their contacts, and treat the disease.
As the PreSPI used a black box of a smartphone to regularly collect and record signals coming from the global positioning system (GPS), wireless local area network (LAN), Bluetooth, barometer, and inertial sensors. It can minimize the risk of privacy infringement, KAIST said. The previous system, used for the disclosure of Covid-19 patients’ movement routes, came under fire because it extensively accessed to personal information such as credit card usage.
Professor Han Dong-soo of the Computer Science Department of KAIST and his research team developed the latest PreSPI. The system collects signals from the GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and inertial sensors and automatically discards the information after two weeks.
Data stored in an individual smartphone’s black box cannot be disclosed. As the system reveals the movements of a Covid-19 patient through signals, not texts, it can protect privacy.
The PreSPI comes in three versions -- “Self-Examination System for Virus Exposure” for ordinary people and “Epidemiologic Investigation System” and “Isolated Person Management System” for the health authorities.
The Self-Examination System for Virus Exposure helps the user check the possibility of virus exposure by comparing whether or not the movements of Covid-19 patients overlap with the movements recorded in the smartphone’s black box.
The Epidemiologic Investigation System shows signals recorded on a Covid-19 patient’s smartphone on a map, which can help an epidemiological investigator identify the movements. This system uses the KAIST Locating System (KAILOS), an indoor/outdoor integrated location tracker developed by Han for over a decade, to identify the movements of a confirmed patient even inside a building.
The Isolated Person Management System analyzes signals collected by a smartphone’s black box in real-time to check whether the patient is out of the isolated zone. It uses both GPS and wireless LAN signals to check whether the patient is out of a room, as well as out of a building.
“More than 30 kinds of smartphones are being used for contact tracing. As different smartphones use different sensors, we’re testing the new system in various smartphones,” Han said. “As soon as we complete this work, we will launch the system.”
KAIST President Shin Sung-chul said that the PreSPI could drastically save the energy and time of workers in the disease control area, including doctors and nurses who are under great pressure because of the resurge of Covid-19.
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