South Korea is experiencing a significant uptick in coronavirus cases. The world’s second-most infected country, South Korea is seeing positive Coronavirus cases reported at a faster rate than even China. While ramifications are being felt across industries such as airlines, entertainment and banks, mobile apps are booming as the nation turns to technology to help battle the outbreak.
Bae Won Seok is one of the South Korean developers of Corona 100m – an app capable of showing times of confirmed coronavirus patients with their relative nationality, gender, age, and locations they have visited. This app warns users when they are within 100m of a location visited by someone with the Coronavirus. The app, which includes maps that simply visualize data, has been a success. Corona 100m has been downloaded over one million times since it was launched.
In China, the government and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation have also developed a coronavirus detection app. This app uses data from the health and transport authorities, then lets people know when people are in close proximity to a coronavirus patient. Having real-time data allows consumers to be constantly updated on the changes. It currently shows that there are 44,000 plus confirmed infection cases in China.
However, both of these apps are not available in the US. According to the President of App Association Morgan Reed, “Right now the technology industry is working very hard to ensure the platforms are not being used to provide people with false or, even worse, dangerous information about the coronavirus.” In order to prevent the spread of misinformation, the Apple App store is limiting coronavirus apps to those created by recognized institutions such as governments or health-focused organizations. Google Play is also being proactive about preventing misinformation, blocking all related searches for coronavirus.
While the technology is useful, there are drawbacks. Some are worried that using these apps may cause privacy concerns or spread misinformation. And, while information is powerful, we still don’t know if apps like these will actually help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. Nevertheless, they do bring the benefit of aggregating somewhat-accurate data that allows humans to act more rationally and not overreact to the outbreaks. These apps can also warn users, prevent contamination and calm users in the face of the outbreak.