MIT has an ambitious plan to detect if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus
BY KATHARINE SCHWAB
Researchers are using Bluetooth to create an automated method of contact tracing that protects people’s privacy. Now, they need Apple and Google on board.
There are three basic steps to stamping out the spread of a highly contagious disease such as COVID-19. First, you detect who has the disease. Then, you trace who they may have passed it to. And finally, you isolate everyone who is at risk. Step two—also known as contact tracing—can be a time-consuming, manual process where public health officials ask those who’ve fallen ill to create lists of people they’ve been in contact with so those people can be told to self-quarantine. In South Korea, the government has turned to technology to scale up this process, using cellphone location data, CCTV cameras, credit card purchase data, and other kinds of surveillance to tell people if they’ve come into contact with individuals who have tested positive for the virus.